AN I: Please read and review. I really would love to get some feedback, so I can improve my writing. Thank you for taking the time to ready my story!

CHAPTER 2

Anna waited outside the building, blending into the background, the night wrapped around her like a shroud. She knew it was almost time to collect Angela Davenport the way she had known to take her next breath when she'd been alive, it was purely instinctual. She had plans for the good doctor, something Anna needed from her before she helped her to find the pathway to the next realm. Anna supposed you could call it psychoanalysis but really she just needed someone to talk to, and how else was she supposed to find a therapist given her "your dead, I'm dead, we're all dead" approach to life.

Anna saw the breeze rustle the leaves, sending them dancing through the night. Not a single hair or article of clothing moved against her skin. God, how she missed something so simple as feeling the air move across her body. There were so many things Anna had taken for granted when she'd been alive.

A warm pull began to center in the middle of her chest signifying the soul's readiness to cross planes. Anna wasn't sure if she was going to get into trouble by delaying the doctor's journey or even how long she could stall the natural order of things, but she was willing to try. Even angels of death deserved peace, didn't they? At least, that was going to be part of her argument for when she had to justify her actions in front of Bane.

Bane was the head of her department, no one knew when he had died, or who he was before, but it was well known he took his orders directly from Death himself, and he didn't speak to just anybody. Bane had been the one to reap Anna on that long ago summer day.

Anna closed her vivid green eyes and chanted Angela Davenport's name until she found herself standing next to a slumped body within the warm inviting tones of the birch and russet colored office interior. Angela Davenport still sat in her office chair, head pillowed on piles of paperwork, legs crossed demurely at the ankles hidden underneath the desk. She was 67 years of age, probably rested her head for a moment never realizing that it was her last as a massive and sudden stroke claimed her life. Anna could see her soul gently undulating beneath her skin as it waited to be collected, but she didn't want to, not yet anyway.

Instead, the petite Angel bent down and lightly blew her breath against the heart and waited for the body to reanimate itself. It happened slowly, painfully, as the body struggled to comply with Anna's wishes even though it went against everything it yearned to do. Anna doubted they'd have much time at all.

Angela Davenport sluggishly blinked filmy blue eyes, attempting to focus. Her eyes widened in distress as she slowly took in Anna's shimmering form, her skin shining with an ethereal translucency much like finely woven strands of gossamer.

"What's going on," asked the therapist?

Anna almost sighed but caught herself in time. It might be her millionth death talk but this woman would only die once and deserved the company line as fresh and wholesome as the tiny redhead could make it.

"You died," she said simply.

"Young lady, I don't know who let you in here, but this is private property and I don't have time for your games."

Anna resisted the urge to sigh again. Why did people continue to think that death would never come for them; that time would wait? She tried again.

"No, Angela," she began gently. "You died just a few moments ago. You had a massive stroke right here at your desk." Anna's features were calm; her voice passive, even as she delivered the news that another life was over.

"This isn't funny," remarked the therapist but her voice was trembling.

"No, it is not intended to be a joke. Death usually isn't."

"Okay," bargained the older woman, "say I really am dead. How am I here talking to you right now? Who are you and how did you get into my office?"

Cue company line thought Anna.

"My name is Anna. I am the Angel of Death assigned to help facilitate your soul crossing over to the next step in your journey. I cannot tell you where you'll end up, whether it will be up or down, only that your time here is over and you must go. It is the natural order of things."

The greying brows quirked in disbelief.

"Look inside yourself. Can you feel your heart beating? When was the last time you drew in a breath other than that which was required for you to speak with me?"

Angela looked around her office, at the piles of papers untouched on her desk, out the window where night had indeed fallen, and back at Anna yet again.

"Go quietly into the night huh?" she questioned.

"Something like that," responded the Angel.

"Okay then, back to my original question. Why am I here talking to you? If I am dead," at this she gulped but then moved bravely on, "why are you not moving on with the facilitation portion of the program?"

At this Anna shifted and it was her turn to gaze out the window.

"Because," she answered softly, "I need your help."

"What could I possibly help an Angel with?" The honest confusion over the kindly features was reassuring. At least, Anna wasn't the only one feeling out of her element.

"Well, that's what you do right, help people? You listen to them, give advice?"

"Yes," confirmed the therapist, nodding even though her hair never moved with the back and forth motion.

"I just," Anna paused. It was harder than she had thought to verbalize the private thoughts and feelings that had been richicating around inside of her for so long. "I need someone to talk to."

"I'm here," soothed Angela even as her form wavered and Anna felt the pull in the center of her chest even more forcibly than before. She didn't know how much longer she was going to have, already she could sense Bane and his growing displeasure at the amount of time she was taking in completing her assigned task.

"I died very young; some would say in tragic circumstances, foolish might be more appropriate. And since then, I have dealt in death. I have seen every possible way for human beings to leave this world, all of the atrocities they do to each other, and I'm starting to question what is the point of it all?"

"I thought I was supposed to be asking you that, given your job description."

"I wish I had all the answers but I don't. I was told I would be given this job until I had learned the importance of life and death, but honestly I don't even know what I'm supposed to be learning anymore." Anna started pacing, the calm veneer cracking to show the turbulent agitation underneath. Angela watched fascinated as she moved up and down the length of the room and yet not a single thing on her body indicated she was moving.

Anna stopped and then whispered, "Sometimes I think they just needed available bodies to help ferry all the souls across and all this life lesson stuff is crap."

"Well, I can't very well imagine the stress and strain from having to do what you do, but honestly in all the years you have been here, all that you've seen, have you witnessed none of the beautiful things as well?" questioned Angela.

Anna looked at her sadly. "Whenever I close my eyes, all I see is death. I can't remember who I used to be, the feel of my dad's beard when he hugged me, or my sister's smile. I am death."

Angela sat back and took a minute to compose her thoughts. "If this were a normal situation, I'd be telling you to break the mold. Do something abnormal, outside of the routine. Something you enjoy, that is only for you, and nothing to do at all with your job. But this isn't a normal situation and I'm not sure of the extent of latitude you have within your position."

"Nope," breathed Anna. "Nothing about this is normal."

"Well, screw it."

"Huh?"

"You're already bending the rules by talking to me correct?

"Yes," confirmed Anna even as she blushed at the answer.

"So my earlier advice stands, in lieu of sounding trite, when there is a will there's a way. Honey, only you can make it better. Start small, change one small thing. Go from there, see how it goes." As she spoke the therapists form grew fainter and fainter, her voice echoing as if coming from a long distance.

The burning in Anna's chest was almost unbearable now.

"Thank you for your help, it has been incredible just to be able to talk to someone. But, now it is time for you to rest. Don't worry; I'll see to it that you make it there safely."

The last spark left Angela Davenport's eyes, and once again she slumped down over her papers, her body relaxed in death. Anna admired the gentle yellows, greens and pinks of the soul as she drew it towards her and proceeded to the holding room.

As unorthodox as it had been, Anna was glad she had reanimated the therapist. She had given her some things to think about. Time to think was one thing she definitely had a supply on.

Thankfully the path to the elevators in the elaborate holding room was blissfully clear. As she stepped inside and the first notes to Stairway to Heaven floated out of the speakers, she gave a relieved smile.

"Rest peacefully, Angela Davenport," she murmured.