c’est la vie, c’est la mort | a short story

=>for a totally immersive reading experience please listen to this<=

His voice still existed on her phone. On social media. In their chat. The voicemails. She could get a new phone and he would still be there if she clicked on his name. The honey pot emoji. The unawareness of last words. The usual stuff. Then the dates. The date when it all turned into a monologue. The before and after. She had a different voice now too. He didn’t have one at all. What he said to her was still there. Could be deleted. But why would she? It was so normal, she’d go back to it. She could listen to the same one-minute pieces every time she wanted. He’d still be gone though. But he was still on social media.

She had read somewhere that Facebook is the biggest cemetery in the world. She found that quite fascinating to know. But that’s not where he was buried. He was still listed amongst potential chat partners in the right-hand column. His avatar. Disconnected. Wish him a happy birthday. Let him know that you think about him. He liked this. He reacted to that. He’s not just dead.

He appeared on the screen. She clicked his face away, then it came back, she did that, with another click, right, left, there and there. He was contemplative. He was smiling. He was alive. There and there. She looked at what wasn’t there anymore. Videos as well. The immovable. She watched it once, twice. Same gestures, same expressions and words. On repeat. Against her knowledge. Against the funeral. Against real life. Comment without an answer. Tag without a reaction. It was a gallery of him. A gallery of images that stop. He stopped.

Last active. Seen. Seen by everyone except him. Always, from now on, except him. She wondered how many emails he’d received since his death. How much spam. How many notifications about what he might like. How Facebook would try to get him back on the app. Someone sent him a friend request. Someone sent him condolences. Someone still wished him a happy birthday. A friend who didn’t know that he was dead. That he chose to be dead. Mark as unread.

He didn’t answer when she called. She was scared that he might pick up and then what? Come back from the dead? Did she hang up or did it just ring out? He wasn’t available. Missed call. Missed calls. I miss you. That’s what she wrote. Because it was true. Because she wanted to say that to him. He should know. No typing. No pausing. Just, she missed him. The blue boxes kept coming. One after another. To go back to him, she needed to scroll up more and more. Start at the end of the rope.

Her words brought an ever-growing distance to his. The grey boxes. The press play buttons. The voice that she didn’t want to forget. Back then, when he could still talk. When she had been at the beach and took a photograph of a dead jellyfish in the wet sand. She had sent it to him because she thought that he might find it interesting to look at. They were alike that way. And she had joked, don’t worry, it wasn’t me, because she used to cut snails open as a child, operations, she had called them, to see what they looked like inside. And he had replied, casually, in his voice, in the grey box, c’est la vie, c’est la mort.

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2022 | Instagram: croque_melpomene

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