Alex had been hanging out with the Death for a while now. It had different forms that she’d seen: sometimes it looked like a swarm of fireflies, sometimes it looked like a very tiny man dancing inside the flame on the end of a match. Currently it looked like a sandworm from the Beetlejuice cartoon, green and purple stripes and eyeless. It had just collected an old man and they were sitting on the wide steps of his mansion, talking and drinking. Well, she was drinking; it was just watching her and nodding.

“Still,” she said, “there must be parts you enjoy, right? Where you like your job. People who are really happy to see you, right? Or even just seeing so many different people. Right?”

The Death shook its head, and moved its mouth like it was talking, except only a swarm of cartoon beetles came out.

“What? Nothing? That’s terrible!” The forty was making her sentimental. “Look, I worked for a summer sorting backpacks, and I hated that job. Hated it. Hated getting up that early, hating getting out by 2, hated moving boxes, hated how pointless it was. But sometimes it was beautiful! Sometimes I loved working that job, even though I still hated it, you know?”

The Death shook its head.

Tears filled her eyes. “You poor bastard! You poor, dumb bastard. Come here and give me a hug.” The Death hesitated, purple and green skin flicking uncertainly. “Come here and give me a hug! I’m feeling sorry for you, dammit!” It squirmed over to her and she gave it the tightest hug she could, arms sinking deep into the dry hide.

There was a clap of thunder. “Aaaah,” said the Death, the first thing she’d heard it say, and suddenly she wondered what she’d done.