The way Amy met men, you’d think she was the Angel of Death.

The way that hospital nurses will help their patients along, take them on the fast-track to the afterlife, the way these kind, caring women will put the elderly out of their misery so they can rise up to heaven, Amy Ellis is her own kind of Angel.

Amy worked at a suicide hotline. It’s not exactly the cheeriest line of work; it lies somewhere between mortician and postal worker, professions that inevitably end in doom for all involved.

But then, Amy wasn’t the cheeriest person.

Dozens of rows of seats, the place seems more like a telemarketing center than anything else. A dozen shades of the same gray plaster the tables, phones, floor, ceilings. On the walls, interspersed between plants dying of dehydration, there, every few feet, there’s a poster.

Every few feet, there’s a giant face looking down at you with a condescending smile. Every few feet, a mantra. Positivity. Encouragement.

The posters are most depressing of all, more so than the sea of gray, more so than the fact that, once you're here, your only connection to the outside world is a suicidal maniac.

A smiling Asian woman or a happy young black boy or a cheerful middle-aged white man, these people of paradise, of every race, every creed, these freaks stare at you in a desperate attempt to keep you alive, as desperately as you're trying to keep the people you can't see alive.

Like police surround a hostage-taker with guns, these smiling faces are all around you, on every side, threatening you with joy.

It only takes a few seconds in here for any optimism you have left to die off altogether.

This is when I burst out laughing.

Why anyone else would work here, I can’t imagine, but Amy, she was here by choice.

Before here, Amy worked in a bar. Before that, a strip club. Before that, a nightclub. Anywhere dead men lurked, that’s where Amy headed.

A different kind of one-night stand.

The sex that ends in sorrow, with a sloppy piece of flubber unraveling on top of her, measly amounts of cum dripping down her thighs, mixing with his tears as he screams his sister's or his mother's name. Or both.

This is Amy's orgasm.

She only read obituaries to ensure they were dead. Post-coital masturbation. Postal workers were simplest, but she couldn't deny the allure of morticians. Stiff, rigid, they were already corpses. Eyes vacant. She was fucking a dead man, and if she could have done it for real, she would have.

When they stayed alive, that was the problem. That was when Amy had to do damage control.

If it took phone calls to his wife, if it took outright blackmail, fuck, if it took drugging him, kidnapping him, finding the right shotgun to fit perfectly in his mouth, she got the job done.

Amy wasn't the cheeriest person, but she was fucking determined.

You had to give her that.

I am here because of her.

I am her replacement.

I sit down at my chair and wait for the calls to begin. So strange to be on the other end of the line, knowing who is about to ring, how they're already too fucked up to be anything to anyone anymore, facing a stream of lies that bubble easily from the hotliners' mouths, drown them, tickle their ears, then, hang up and kill yourself.

Amy's obituary was printed yesterday.

I would have liked to have seen mine instead; but when an opportunity presents itself, I suppose one has a responsibility to to go for it, balls out. No holds barred.

I'm not the cheeriest person, but I'm fucking determined.

You have to give me that.
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