Those Who Are Loved Very Much

Nika Župan

Long ago, when the universe was smaller and the earth was greener, times were simpler. Life took stardust, red soil, salty blue water, and mixed air to create humans. They were born innocent, and Life loved them dearly. He gave them little presents of beauty, intellect, kindness, and many more. They were all different but wonderful in their own way. Life watched them be merry, learn, and eventually grow old. It was only once they were no longer innocent that Death came and took them with her. Death never came for anyone that didn’t deserve it. Even though no human was alike, they all received the gift of love. That was Life’s most significant present to humans. Sometimes they found this present of love right next to them, and sometimes they had to go looking for it and find it somewhere else.

Long ago, a Girl was born. She was immensely beautiful. She had porcelain skin, sparkling eyes, and lovely long hair the colour of autumn red. Her face was adorable, and her smile was charming. It seemed that Life made her with extra stardust. As she grew older, everybody noticed how bright she was, too. She learned everything in the blink of an eye. All the other humans admired her sharp mind and quick wit. She was also kind and compassionate.
She accepted the gifts Life gave her, but she was missing the gift of love. She searched high and low for it, but she still couldn’t find it. She often wondered if Life had forgotten about her or if Life thought he had awarded her enough.

Time passed, but the kind, red-haired Girl still didn’t find love anywhere. She grew bitter, and resentful towards others who had found love. No longer was she compassionate and kind. She discovered the gift of magic and wizardry. With her spells, she took the love away from those who she envied the most. All the other humans began to be frightened in her presence and hid from her. They were afraid of her magic – and of her hate. To them, she was no longer the kind, red-haired Girl, but a Witch. The Witch accepted her new name and disappeared into the woods. The Witch knew Death comes for those who are no longer innocent and she waited for her.

But just as everything appeared over for the Witch, it seemed that the love she searched for, for so long, had found her. It was in the form of a strong, handsome King. He was brave, and caring. He often helped other humans in need, and for his help, they awarded him with fortune and riches and made him the King. When the King saw the Witch, he fell in love immediately. He loved her deeply for her mind and beauty, and he overlooked her flaws. He didn’t care that she was no longer kind and compassionate. He was untroubled by her mistakes and decided to make her his Queen. And the Witch loved him back. She loved her King greatly for accepting her as she was and loving her so sincerely. Not long after, they married.

The humans now knew her no longer as the kind, red-haired Girl, nor as the Witch, but as their Queen. She gave birth to a beautiful son, a Prince. Life gave him all the presents he once gave his parents. He was everything they were and more. The Prince was loved by his parents and other people.

But Death hadn’t forgotten about the Witch and her wrong-doings. Once the earth completed her dance around the sun, Death came knocking on the castle’s door. Three times she knocked and waited for the Witch. But it was the King who opened the door. And when he saw who was at the door, he began pleading and crying. He knew that Death came for his Queen. Death was always fair and only came for those who deserved it. She was not used to tears and sorrow.
Death said: “She is no longer innocent; she must go with me.”

But the King insisted: “She is too young, too beautiful, too smart, and I love her too much. You cannot take her.”

And Death calmly replied: “If she does not come with me, I will take someone innocent.”

The King agreed. And Death took a sweet old lady. She had often thought about Death before but still wasn’t quite ready to greet her. But Death explained and took her anyway.

Time passed while the King and Queen grew older. Nevertheless, they still loved each other truly. But Death still hadn’t forgotten about the Witch. Three times she knocked on the castle’s door and waited for her. And again, it was the King who opened the door, and he knew who Death came to collect.
Death said: She is no longer innocent or young; she must go with me.”

But the King insisted: “She is too beautiful, too smart, and I love her too much. You cannot take her.”

And Death calmly replied: “If she does not come with me, I will take someone innocent and young.”

And the King agreed once more.
Death took a young man who was in love and about to get married. He was not ready to greet Death yet. But Death explained and took him anyway.

With time, the King and Queen grew even older. The King noticed that the Queen’s porcelain skin began to wrinkle, her lovely long hair turned grey and dull, and her adorable face and smile were no longer as beautiful. But the King and Queen still loved each other deeply. However, Death still hadn’t forgotten about the Witch. With three hard knocks, she once again knocked on the castle’s door. And the King opened the door, knowing that Death came for his Queen once again. Death said: She is no longer innocent, or young, or beautiful; she must go with me.”

But the King insisted: “She is too smart and I love her too much. You cannot take her.”

Death calmly replied: If she does not come with me, I will take someone innocent, young, and beautiful.”

The King agreed. Death took a young girl as beautiful as the sun. She had never even thought about Death and was nowhere near ready to greet her. But Death explained and took her anyway.

Time passed once more, and the King and Queen grew even older. The King had noticed that the Queen’s once sharp mind was no longer as brilliant. She wasn’t bright or smart anymore, and it seemed that she lost her mind completely. But nonetheless, the King still loved his Queen greatly. But Death hadn’t forgotten about the Witch. Again she came knocking on the castle’s door. And the King opened. He still wasn’t ready to let go of his Queen.
Death said: She is no longer innocent, or young, or beautiful, or smart; she must go with me.”

But the King insisted: “I love her too much. You cannot take her.”

Death calmly replied: “If she does not come with me, I will take someone innocent, young, beautiful, and smart. Someone who is loved very much.”

The King agreed. And Death took his only son, the Prince. He had heard about Death many times, and she knocked on their door often, but the Prince had only begun living, and he was far from ready to greet her. But Death explained and took him anyway.

After Death took the King’s only son, he turned angry, and bitter. He was sure that Death had fooled him, unable to see his own mistake. The Queen was no longer the woman he once loved, and Death should have taken her instead of their son. Looking at the mirror, he no longer saw a handsome, brave King. He saw an unpleasant old man with a wrinkly face and cold eyes. He was selfish and cowardly. The King and Queen no longer loved each other. And they waited for Death to come knocking on their door.

But Death didn’t come. She had grown accustomed to the pleasant company and lovely humans; the innocent, the young, the beautiful, the smart, and those who are loved very much. She no longer took only those who deserved it. She was still fair and promised Life she would take everyone eventually, but from that moment, she picked whomever she wanted.

The King and Queen waited for Death. Time passed, and the earth moved around the sun many times, but there was still no sign of her. The King and Queen searched for her around the world, behind every corner and in every little hole, but they did not find her. They returned to their castle and waited some more. Eventually, Death came. She knocked on the castle’s door three times and waited. She had come for both King and Queen. They asked her why she took so long and where she has been hiding, but Death was tired of explaining and bargaining and remained quiet.

Even now, after a very long time, Death still takes whomever she wants. Often, she takes those who deserve it but sometimes takes the innocent, the young, the beautiful, the smart, and even those who are loved very much. She comes in silence, offers no bargains, and then leaves without an explanation. Giving us the one solace that she will come for every one of us, eventually.

Nika Župan is a 26-year-old Slovenian with a fascination for everything paranormal, scary, and dark. She has a bachelor’s degree in textile engineering but finds it very dull, so she spends her free time writing eerie stories.