She never tries to cheat death — with marked cards or weighted dice. When his shadow passes over her, rather than breathing her last, her lungs refill with air, her brain synapses re-spark, her heart beats in rhythm to her rebirth.

She is not an immortal. No contract signed with Mr. Down Below for a life extension. No possession of philosopher stone turning lead to gold; death to life. Each time, she thought, “If this is it, then this is it.” Feels absolute calm and serenity flood her mind and body in transcendental bliss. But, then her feet find grounding on the seaweedy, rocky tidal river bottom, legs push herself upwards towards light and air. Or food, caught in her airway, dislodges – coughed out onto an ER floor. Always, it seems, last gasp becomes first breath.

She thinks perhaps it was because Death forgot their first date, missed their first dance. The inevitable one in both her family trees: a first child did not live long enough to celebrate a first birthday. Death dropped by – sometimes sudden, sometimes slow. But, always before the 12th month fully passed.

Her parents counted weeks, then days. To ensure Death did not RSVP, no preparations of cake, or blowing up balloons for a first anniversary of her birth. Then on 53rd week, her parents exhaled, and celebrated. A picture survives somewhere, she is sure, of that day. Smiling face smeared with chocolate ice cream. Not yet understanding how special she is, that first first.

For mlmm Tale Weaver 126, Death