YOU DIED ANTHOLOGY SUBMISSION
The Tale of Rosemary Lee - Thumbnails and Script
In all the years of mortal ken, only one soul had cheated death of her due.
No great beauty or princess was she, but as plain as plain could be. Hearken and listen to this, the tale of Rosemary Lee.
It began the night Grandmother Lee’s life ended, god rest her soul.
Grandmother Lee had been a real piece of work, and had once locked Rosemary Lee overnight in the cellar for not saying ‘please’ when asking her grandmother to pass the salt.
But family is family, and Rosemary Lee dressed her grandmother in her best clothes and sat vigil, waiting for death to show up and collect her due.
But one night passed, and then another, and then another. Death was late.
When death did arrive, she was flustered, sweaty faced with robes askew, nothing like the terrifying ruler of the underworld that Rosemary Lee had imagined. All apologies, Death stated that a prior engagement had made her late.
‘A fellow lost to me in a game of chance and made the mistake of wagering his life. His girl pledged to bear a child for me to save him, but it amounts to nought as the whole town was just taken by raiders’ (It has been a remarkably busy day for Death, and she was hoping to get this grandmother business over quickly).
‘The rate of exchange is a life for a life?’, asked Rosemary Lee.
‘Has and has always been’, said Death, stating that which is older than time itself.
Rosemary Lee thought for a moment, and said ‘I offer you a life for sparing mine from death’.
‘You offer me life? Which life?’ says Death.
‘I shall bear life for you, if in turn you give me an eternal one,’ she insisted.
Death thought for a moment, taking in Rosemary Lee’s overly large eyes, the care she’d put into her grandmother’s appearance, considering her in more ways than one.
‘Agreed’, she said and reached out a bony hand to shake her living one, sealing the deed.
Then suddenly pulls Rosemary close to lay a dry kiss on her forehead and whisper in her ear.
‘The word is binding. I shall collect my due in 9 months time,’ said Death, and then disappeared with a deathly rattle.
Rosemary Lee smiled to none but herself, and went to make herself a pot of tea.
The moon rose and set, the world turned, and 9 months went by. Death knows when life appears in this world as surely as she knows when life disappears from it, and knew the instant her child was born. Grabbing their scythe and a cradle made from reeds that lined the River Styx, Death went to collect her life.
Only to find it cradled at another’s breast.
And not any breast, but the breast of the great witch Voleur, known throughout the lands of life and death as a powerful enchantress and necromancer.
‘That babe at your breast is mine,’ said Death, for as intimidated as she was at the great witch Voleur’s beauty, she was Death after all. ‘It was born of me and I have come to take it to underrealm.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said the Great Witch haughtily. ‘This babe is mine. Her life was pledged to me by her mother’.
‘Her mother…?’ inquired death.
‘You don’t say,’ said Death.
Shortly after finishing her cup of tea nine months before, Rosemary Lee packed a small bag and made the trip to the great witch Voleur’s cottage.
The great witch was wise in the ways of women, and eyed Rosemary’s belly with much envy. Witches are unable to bear children, and while the great witch was usually able to dispel that longing, she had woken that morning feeling full of emptiness.
‘I welcome you and your unborn child into my threshold,’ said she enviously. ‘What I wouldn’t give for one of my own.’
‘What would you give?’, inquired Rosemary Lee, appearing none to interested.
‘Wealth. Infamy. Your heart’s desire,’ said the witch, absentmindedly, picturing herself with a milk smelling babe in her arms. ‘The usual fodder I suppose.’
Rosemary holds her hand out to the witch’s voluptuous one. ‘The babe in my belly is yours if what you promised is given in turn’
The great witch Voleur is taken aback, then thinks, the green vine of envy wrapped around her heart.
‘Agreed’ says the witch, shaking her hand and sealing the deed. But she warns ‘The word is binding. But do not cross me girl, or there will be hell to pay’.
Rosemary Lee smiles to herself, and goes home to make herself another cup of tea.
Two beings soaked in the language of trickery have been tricked, blinded by their desperate need for life.
But the word is binding, and the life must be shared.
Death and the great witch stare at one another uneasily, and the stare is the beginning of a partnership, although they are yet unawares.
Thus is Agatha Mimsy born.
A girl able to walk the underrealm with death yet still be living.
A girl able to conjure demons by the light of a waning moon.
A girl who, for some very memorable vacations, learned the importance of grammar.