Category A: Second Place (2020) Monash Short Story Writing Competition
Author: Maya Norman
Title: Even death has a heart
There is one thing about humans I cannot comprehend, and it is their capacity for feelings. Their appetite for emotions resembles that of a menu, with an infinite array of flavours. There are the people who always order the same thing off the menu, tirelessly playing it safe, never daring to jeopardise their comfort. Contrarily, there are the customers who have the rare patience and unwavering determination to examine the menu in its entirety, and effortlessly delve into the true power of the feeling. I was confounded to witness two unconventional souls meet, a pair eager to sit down and explore the menu together.
It was a boy, not too long ago, that taught the girl real romance, and how it isn't something hopeless or unenergetic like stale poetry, or futile like canned compliments. She had familiarised herself with his redundant flattery, proving futile, for she was already smitten with his twinkling eyes; a pair infused with a goodness that could only be reflected as the creation of summertime and butterflies. Comparably, he was infatuated with her ability to radiate a golden glow, a warmth that he would bask in eternally, with a single flash of a smile.
In retrospect, it was on that day all those years ago, in the midst of their embrace, that I finally understood the fidelity between the two. The pair hugged with ease, encompassed by a love that had blossomed at a time that was fuelled by hatred. Inevitably, a connection as natural as theirs was always in jeopardy. It was always cursed. I was always the precarious variable, the devil in the detail - well, the death in the detail.
Ruthlessly, the bombs arrived later that day, dropped by the merciless humans hiding in the clouds. They tore apart the lives, the bundles of happiness that people, that she, had so diligently pieced together.
I knew, on that day that reeked of loss, I would be the one to blame. I knew from then on, the very notion of my existence, of death, resided in her mind as cold and cruel and relentless. I know stealing the person she needed the most was my cruellest trick.
Despite your perception of my apathetic and forbidding demeanour, it truly kills me sometimes, how people die. Often, I find myself contemplating how the agonising torment of losing someone would influence one’s heart, one’s soul. Would it slowly tear away at all the hope meticulously embroidered on the seams of the heart? Or would it surge through the soul, like a hurricane diminishing all of the infrastructure, gushes of anguish and aching, one after the other? Woefully, I’ve been a bystander for the endings of countless tragic love stories, so I make it a point to notice the collateral beauty; to find the flowers sprouting in the cracks of the rubble. Contemplate the possibility that to have lost, is to ultimately have loved, and you see? Even death has a heart.