Once upon a time, there was a little village, nestled deep in a wooded valley, where no one ever died. You might think that it would have been the happiest village in the world.
The village was in perpetual darkness, the large trees which surrounded every house and farm blocking out both sun and moonshine. No music played, no stories were told. The older undying felt themselves resented by the younger generations that would never take their places and the youngest children sat apathetic and listless on the stoops of their houses, anchored by the knowledge that they had all the time in the world to do everything. So they did nothing.
Many years before, Death had been a frequent visitor to the town. He took the plow horses when their work was finally done, the elders when their last lessons had been imparted, and every so often a child whose story had always been intended to be a short one. Death was well aware that his visits to the world were not, in general, looked forward to. He was used to the tears and loss that accompanied his work. He didn’t take it personally.
But the people of the little village did. At a town meeting, after one of Death’s many visits, a general consensus was taken that their town was a good, blessed place, where much of the vicinity’s wheat and corn was grown, and where virtuous folks lived and it was unfair for Death to take what never belonged to him in the first place.
It was one thing to be hated, but quite another to be looked down upon. Death knew his job was unpopular, but he had thought the people of the little village had understood why he did what he did. But not only did they not, they resented him and thought themselves above him.
So he left them. And he never returned.
The effects were noticed almost immediately. The crops could not be harvested, for though they ripened, they refused to be sheared from their stalks and killed. The economy of the little village collapsed almost overnight. Wild animals began to roam the edges of the town, unchallenged and unafraid. The farmers who had grown up with the hope that the land of their father’s might one day belong to them found their ambitions frustrated; permanently.
Life might have gone on interminably, but the soul of the village withered slowly, wasted, like an unpicked grape on the vine. Before long the villagers would gather round their cold stoves and share stories of the days when Death had come; and they sighed and cried and lamented the perpetual life that plagued them all.
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