talking about death

(This ended up being the piece I wrote for my Creative Writing Paper, 2nd short story in a while)

In a rather twisted turn of events, it was found that Zach talked his way to death. This didn’t mean that his throat dried or vocal chords died. It simply meant that he literally talked himself to death, all the while talking about death. Death was his favourite word and he threw it around so much, so casually that it almost seemed like he had lost all his near and dear ones and was deeply affected by it in such a manner that he responded to it now by being unaffected by it. But that was not the case. Roy had found out after his death that none of his family members was dead. Of course, his great-grandparents and some old aunts and uncles were, but they were people whose deaths were unremarkable. So this lead to the question of why Zach was actually so matter-of-fact about death.

She had other reasons too but this primary need for investigation was the catalyst for Roy's sneaking into the boy’s hostel on Saturday night. She had a hoodie and baggy jeans on, pretending to a boy. It wasn’t necessary. She already had really short hair and very little in the chest area that a little loose t-shirt covered up pretty easily. But mostly, it wasn’t necessary because the guard was fast asleep. Roy slipped into Room 456 on the 3rd floor of the boy's hostel at 2:31 am running into no one on the way, except a few boys with joints who looked like they didn’t bother and didn’t want to be bothered either. 

After Zach had died 3 days ago, the institute allowed for two days of mourning. It fell on Thursday and Friday and with Saturday and Sunday being holidays too, most of the faint-hearted had gone home to their parents to cry and be pampered while the rest had taken the long weekend as an opportunity to drink themselves to (ironically) a certain death. Friends of Zach especially had been out of it since the news had come Thursday morning about his passing. It was understood that there was no point in fining the offenders at this point, as there were too many and the many were extremely volatile. So the administration decided that the best thing to do was to pretend like everything was fine, turning a blind eye to the mound of glass bottles and cigarette butts that had formed outside the gate. 

Roy removed a hairpin from her hair and undid the lock on the door. She wondered for a bit why his room hadn’t been searched yet and when she opened the door, she realised it had been. Most things were left in disarray and Roy was disgusted at the lack of sensitivity the Police (and the administration) had shown to this boy’s possessions. There were books scattered across the floor and bed, all gathering dust, never to be read. She made a mental note to make sure that didn't happen, for books always had to have a home. Stepping carefully across the scattered dusty books, heaps of unwashed clothes and bits and pieces of wire and paper, plastic bottles and potato chip wrappers, she found his desk. Its surface surprisingly clean and devoid of random artefacts. There was a mural, graffiti rather of selected swear words that all directed strong emotions towards a certain person belonging to, as well as a whole gender group - more specifically, Roy’s gender - females. Roy wondered if something had happened with Sophia that warranted this amount of hatred towards the female population but he hadn’t mentioned anything of the sort and Zach wasn’t one who kept quiet about things. 

She rolled over the mattress searching for what she was looking for. She thought it weird that the people who had searched his room had forgotten to look under his mattress, an obvious spot. She made a mental note that maybe the Police in real life were not as dedicated and smart as the ones she saw in the movies. This train of thought was interrupted by the finding of what she was looking for, a neatly bound leather jacketed notebook that Zach had carried around everywhere. The first page read - "Sophia. To Zach, All my Love." She slipped the small book into her pocket to look at, later. 

Zach enjoyed the act of talking. He, in fact, kept talking even as they kissed, more than once in the very same room. He talked about Sophia as he removed Roy's glasses and pulled her close. There's something deeply intimate about removing someone's glasses and only a wearer of them can understand this. Roy decided to jump the gun and make judgements instead of inferences since she was pathetic at logic having scored a C for the same the previous semester. Roy believed that Zach must have spent more time thinking and talking about Sophia to other people, than spending it talking to or with Sophia herself. None of them had actually met Sophia and his friends had even gone on to assume her to be a certain doll that he kept in his room. Though Roy strongly believed that Sophia existed and that Zach loved her, she still did sigh with relief when she didn't see any such doll in the room the first time she came.

The drawer was empty, the cupboards were empty and Roy felt thoroughly empty too. Roy lay down on Zach's clothes, on the floor, staring at the ceiling. Roy had never thought about death except in those rare moments when she heard her dad coughing at night and woke up dreading the debt he had racked up that her mother and she would have to pay off. This was the first time she sat contemplating the idea of death realising slowly why Zach spent so much time thinking and even more time talking about it. 

When Joe walked into the room at 3:41 am seeing it unlocked, he found Roy lying on the floor on her stomach deeply engrossed in a little black journal. He went and lay down next to her. Roy didn't even turn to acknowledge his arrival. "I think Sophia was this fucking book." Roy couldn't stop laughing. "What are you talking about?" Joe asked her feeling extremely confused. Roy had this mad look on her face. "The book is fucking Sophia.  It's fucking love ballads," she said, tightly shutting the book but placing it down next to her with a certain tenderness. She turned on her side to look at Joe and he did the same. He carefully removed her glasses and put them away. "Did you find anything else?", he asked. "Just that he died", Roy replied.