Hello again! For those of you who enjoyed my first story, “Bad Reputation”, I wanted to share this other side story that I have been working on. In the first story, Hades briefly talks about Stephen, the Reaper who helps carry souls across the River of Styx. There’s a brief conversation about the all you can eat hot dogs in hell and how Stephen is no stranger to helping himself. Somewhere along the line, the Reaper finds himself being demoted and “under official review” as the “ALA” (after life administration) decides how to deal with the sliding work ethic of the world’s oldest and most deceased. As he begins the review process, its decided that the Reaper will take on the responsibilities and job duties of a guardian angel. This story takes place in this setting as he and a girl named, Mavis, learn to …live(?) with each other. I really love this idea and hope to share more adventures of Mavis and the Reaper. Thanks for reading!


“Look sharp, Mavis, you’re not in the outfield to pick flowers”.

The coach scowled as Mavis reached down to pick up a seemingly invisible object. Coach Marvin was one of the things Mavis hated the most about softball. Not only was she clumsy and terrible at sports, Coach Marvin left her in the outfield to collect the stray balls that seldom carried their way to out to such distance.

Notably aware of her ungraceful abilities, he had no intentions of losing just because a lost cause wanted to participate, even if this was a grade school league we were talking about here.

“They just let these kids do whatever they want”, he mumbled to himself. He paced back and forth behind the rusted chain link fence that separated the field from the dugout.

His sweaty fingers reached at the gaps between the fence and he let out a big sigh and polished off the last of his lukewarm Gatorade.

The drive home was mostly quiet for Mavis and her mother. Still aware of what happened earlier, Mavis decided that when her mother was upset that it was best to just pretend like she did not exist. After all, no one can be upset with someone who does not exist.

“I talked to your coach during the game, Mavis”, Sherry finally broke the silence. “I told him you’re not interested in the game because you don’t get to participate that much in the outfield”.

“Yeah, I guess that’s part of it”. Mavis thought to herself for a moment; that was exactly it.

“Well the coach has agreed to let you start practicing as a catcher now! So tomorrow you are going to have to actually try when you get to practice”, her mother looked in the rearview mirror, attempting to make eye contact for reassurance.

Instead Mavis looked out the window and the rain began to trickle harder and harder down the window. How lucky they were, that the rain had started just moments after the game ended.

“Make sure you put on some knee pads. You’re going to be down in the dirt while you’re up there catching”.

Coach Marvin rolled his eyes, obviously already annoyed by the fact that a nagging mother was forcing him to put his worst player at the front.

“What about a helmet”, asked Mavis?

She reached the Velcro straps of the kneepads around her small legs. The knee pads were for an adult and made her walk like a robot who had not moved in ages.

“I mean if you want to put one on. I do not see any of you throwing a ball hard enough for that to be necessary. Just figure it out. Come on! Come on!” the coach clapped his grubby hands together and wiped a drop of sweat from his brow.

Mavis looked down at the helmet for a moment and shrugged. Then she turned and ran from the dugout, excited to be playing for the first time. As she stepped behind the plate, the batter turned to look at her. Natalie had dark curly hair that she kept pulled back into a ponytail. Her softball cap read, “Collicular” and a small skull was embroidered above it. Mavis remembered asking her at practice before, “What’s a Collular?” and Natalie just rolled her eyes.

“I honestly have no idea; this is my dad’s old hat, I just wear it to practice”.

Natalie tapped her bat to the plate and asked, “Alright Mave, you ready to get wrecked?”

Mavis looked at her for a second, “I have no idea what I’m doing, so ‘wrecked’ is probably right”. Mavis nervously bit her lip and looked back at Natalie for reassurance.

“If by some miracle I miss, just catch the ball. That is it, dude”. Natalie turned to look at the pitcher and tapped her bat two more times on the plate.

“Alright weenies, lets- “Natalie was cut off as the ball suddenly came flying towards the home plate and as she swung, Mavis let out a gasp.


Mavis looked up at the clouds, not unsure of what had just happened. She should have wondered why it was suddenly so quiet but Mavis- relieved to finally be alone-just kept looking up. Everyone had disappeared from the field but the park itself was still the same. Suddenly out of the corner of her eye, a dark figure began to approach.

“Are you sure that’s the right one? …It looks kind of small”, she heard the faint blob speak.

Were they talking about her? Mavis thought about all the times her mother warned her about strangers. But for some reason this did not feel like one of those situations. Sure, he was a stranger with a hood, but he sounded more like an ass hole than creep. Mavis attempted to sit up, but it suddenly felt like her body was made of bricks. What had happened?

The hooded figure towered above Mavis and seemed to be starring her directly in the face. However, it was hard to tell for sure. All Mavis could really make out was a thick hooded cloak, perfectly casting a shadow to hide his facial features. The cloak was black and elegant; something not of this century… or maybe even this world. The cloak reminded her of the evil witches from some of her favorite movies. They were all the same, medieval but somehow restored as if they had been preserved by a Time Lord.

Mavis let out a gasp as the hooded figure reached into its pocket. She had only seen skeletons in pictures, but she could see that the hand had no muscle or skin. The boney hand pulled out two crumbled pieces of paper that had been stapled together. The documents look like they may have been important; the front page contained a large stamp showing white wings, stretched out to their fullest capacity.

“HAHA…I’m small? You look like you are all bones”. Mavis smirked. The rest of her body was unable to move but Mavis had always been exceptionally good at letting people know how she really felt.

“Oh good, we’re getting off to a good start already”, said the figure it a sarcastic tone. “Listen kid, is your name Mav-is? Real clever, sounds like you got named after some great-great grandma”.

“Yeah, I’m Mavis. Are you a stalker? My mom said to stay away from strangers, but I am kind of stuck on the ground. What’d you do to me???”

The hooded figure let out an exasperated sigh and crouched down to look at closer at Mavis. As he examined her from her feet back up to her head, he extended his boney finger out and flicked the side of her head.

“Hey! What the heck, this isn’t funny anymore”.

“I don’t know…from up here I’m still laughing”.

The hooded figure stood back up and looked at the crumbled papers again.

“Alright Mavis, here’s the deal. I did not create this problem; I just get to help clean it up…got it? I’m your guardian angel now and we’re going be hanging out for a while. At least, until I prove that this whole reassignment thing is a huge mistake”.


“Yeah Mavis, reassignment. Ever heard of the Reaper? That’s freakin’ me… but you can call me Stephen. I’m supposed to help souls find their way across the River of Styx.”

“Sounds like you’re a tour guide”.

“No that’s- look- it’s bigger than that. You have never thought about what happens when you die? I am kind of inevitable… Or at least, I used to be. It’s like you fall asleep eating a hot dog one time and they question centuries of loyalty.”

“What are you even saying to me right now? Did I die? Is that what this is? That was a lot sooner than I thought…also is that why you have a mustard stain on your cloak?” Mavis began to think about all the things she had not done in her life.

“No, no, you’re not dead. Not yet anyways. Like I said, I’m your guardian angel. I have been reassigned. Administration has decided that I’m not “earning my keep” and has a 3 Three-headed dog training to take my job. Can you believe that? And yeah, it’s a stain. The fourth floor has a great selection and this a delicate hand wash- never mind the hot dogs are not what matter right now, okay?”

The Reaper was now pacing in circles around Mavis as he explained his reassignment to her. If Stephen were to return to the River of Styx, he had to show the administration that he was an asset. Unfortunately for him, the only current vacancy was the position of a guardian angel. The original angel assigned to Mavis was named Ted and doctors were currently waiting for him to wake up from a coma. After flying into a flagpole on his way back to Earth, it had seemed that Ted was as clumsy-if not more so-than Mavis. Until Ted’s return, the Reaper was to watch over Mavis as her so claimed “guardian angel”. While this meant that Stephen only had to be in this position momentarily, he was alternatively on a ticking clock to prove himself.

As Mavis began to open her eyes, she could see the faces of all her teammates staring closely back at her.

“Give her some space, guys!” Mavis looked over to see Coach Marvin shuffling towards the group of girls. She slowly began to sit up, finally able to move her hands and legs. Everything seemed fine.

“Are you okay?”, for the first time Coach Marvin was showing her sympathy and she was a little confused by the gesture.

“Yeah, I’m goo-“but then she could finally feel a searing pain overcome her mouth. She put her hand to her lips and could feel the wet blood trickling down her swollen lip. As she looked down at her hand, she could see one of her teeth lying in the soft grass. She picked it up and held it close to her glasses to get a better look.

“HAHA, gross”, said Mavis, but tears fell from her eyes as she tried to laugh the pain away. The rest of the team looked at her and then to Coach Marvin, unsure of what to do next.

Coach Mavis looked at the rest of the team and yelled, “Alright girls, call your parents… practice is over”. He scooped up Mavis-knees cracking as he bent down to reach her- and carried her to the dugout on the east side of the field. As Mavis sat there on the dusty bench looking down at the tooth, she wondered again about the hooded figure she had seen. Did that really happen, or did she pass out? If he were real, wouldn’t he be here? Wouldn’t a guardian angel have prevented this?”

“Hey Coach, does Stephen ever come to the field to play softball?”

The coach looked up from his phone, “Stephen?”

“Yeah Stephen, the Reaper. Eats a lot of hot dogs or something?” Mavis looked at him confused by his reaction. The hooded figure she had seen was very distinct (and annoying). She was sure that he would not go unnoticed if everyone else had seem him.

Coach Marvin looked at her puzzled and replied, “I think you got bonked a little too hard. An ambulance and your mother are both on the way now”.

Mavis’ mother was the first to arrive and then the ambulance shortly after her. Mavis- who was in no mood to be poke or prodded- was instantly engulfed by her mother’s arms.

“I’m a-Ouch, can you not?” Mavis pushed away from her mother and wiped the side of her lip with the back of her wrist.

“What the hell did you do?! What happened?” her mother was still inspecting her body to determine the level of damage. Mavis could already hear the stupid jokes she would tell the doctors while Mavis sat on the examining table.

“Oh no, anything but that pretty face”. Her mother was in fact notorious for the same set of one liner’s that she would feed to people at her own designated times. Mavis thought about how predictable her mother was. Then trailed off into her own predictability.

Did her mother view her is the same light? Mavis thought about Noreen and how she might already anticipate Mavis going home after this only to grab a soda and lock herself in her bedroom for the rest of the evening. Not that there was much to do outside of their typical routines. Finally, her mother spoke again, “Hey! Are you okay? Tell me what happened out there!”

“I got hit with the ball…but its fine”. Mavis exhaled and leaned back on the old bench. She could feel a small piece of the wood where it had begun to splice, sticking outward just slightly enough to bother the person sitting there.

They could see the ambulance pulling into the parking lot, red and blue lights flying around the top of the van. Mavis had never seen an ambulance without its sirens blazing through traffic, she wondered why they were not doing the same.

Noreen got up from the bench and walked over to meet with Coach Marvin and the paramedics. Mavis could not make out their words, but she decided that she would just let the Coach explain the situation and keep quiet. Things always worked out better for Mavis when she kept quiet.

Finally, her mother called for her and waved her over, “Mavis, come on!”

Mavis walked over and looked at them, “This is ridiculous I’m fine”.

“Yes, I’m sure you are. This is just a standard precaution to make sure you do not go home with a concussion. We’re just going to have you sit in the ambulance for a few minutes while I take your blood pressure and check a few things out”. The paramedic was tall and muscular. His head was shaved, and Mavis tried hard not to giggle at the small beam of light that seemed to reflect off his shiny head. She was interested in the idea of having a concussion and what exactly that entailed.

“Check out what?” Mavis was already thinking of the next twenty questions she was going to ask the paramedics about concussions.

“I will check out your pupils, for example. Your body shows certain signs of a concussion and its important to find out before we just let you fall asleep”. The paramedic reached out his arm in support and Mavis made her way to the steps and climbed into the back of the ambulance.

He spoke again, “How are you feeling aside from ‘fine’? Are you feeling dizzy or tired or anything? Tell me your thoughts”.

Mavis liked the way he spoke to her. No one had ever asked her a question like that before, especially not regarding her own thoughts. “Not tired, my mouth just hurts, and my tooth is in my pocket”. She smiled, showing the remnants of a pearly white smile under layers of dried and fresh blood. The paramedic grinned and she pressed her tongue into the gap and winked, “Mom’s going to be pissed”.

“Ohhhhh Lord!” the paramedic peeked out of the ambulance and waved to Noreen.

“Your daughter is fine; she just needs a dentist.” They both turned to Mavis who was still smiling to show the new gap between her teeth. She extended out her hand to her mother, dropping the tiny, bloody tooth into her hand.

“Good thing it’s your baby teeth…I can’t believe you did this. Why didn’t you say anything before?” Noreen sighed and gripped the small tooth in her hand. “I’ll schedule a dentist appointment. We should get home”.

Mavis was surprised to see that her mother was composed, opposite of what she had originally anticipated. Mostly, she expected to see Noreen in a fit of rage and lashing out at the Coach or demanding to know the name of the pitcher and her parents. Instead, her mother just seemed to be tired. While Mavis did not quite understand the pressures of being an adult, she could tell that some days were harder for her mother than others. Most days felt the same for Mavis and she often wondered what it would be like to switch shoes for a day.

The ride home was mostly quiet, an unusual state for Mavis. Maybe it was the large pool of intrusive thoughts that made Mavis sit motionless in the backseat of the car. The pain in her mouth had not settled either. The paramedics had given her some slight pain relief and a few gausses to catch the bleeding but otherwise, there was not much that they could do. Mavis would just have to wait for the swelling to go down on its own and wait for the next available appointment at the dentist.

Late that night, Mavis sat, legs crossed underneath the comforter on her bed. She was supposed to be in bed hours prior but was reluctant to sleep, given all that had happened earlier in the day. As she sat there flipping the pages of an outdated Rolling Stones magazine, she tried to balance a large metal flashlight on her lap, aimed perfectly to make the pages visible in the dark. She pressed her tongue into the new space between her teeth. It was strange how you could be so used to something and then suddenly it flies away… She smiled to herself, amused by the idea of her tooth giving her a break up speech, growing wings and literally flying from her mouth. After all, she had hardly remembered what happened when she dreamt about Stephen, the hooded figure in the ballpark. No one else has seemed to notice the skeleton making fun of her while she lay on the ground. She decided it must be a dream…what else could it be?

While turning the page, a faint shadow passed the corner of her eye. Without turning her head, Mavis cast her eyes to the right, unsure if what she had seen was really or imaginary. She sat there, quiet and careful not to make any sudden moves. Suddenly the blanket flew off her head and there next to her on the bed was the same odd and familiar face.



Kaylie Rivas Denver, Colorado

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