So, I am doing Nanowrimo this year (again) and poking at the royal family tree, and then started wondering about the Coroner in it, and what kind of family she has.... so I decided to figure out the son with a short story about why he isn't a coroner.
I tend to do about 1-3 short stories like this before a nano, just to help me get a feel for the world and a few of the characters in it.
“So, why aren’t you -” Adwyn trailed off as Collin looked over.
“What do you want?” He waited. “Well? You can talk, you know. I won’t bite your head off.”
“Why aren’t you a coroner?” Adwyn asked, studying the floor.
“Hah! You hate the job already?”
“No!” Adwyn looked up sharply, meeting his gaze. “It’s interesting, and different, and I’d probably like it more if not for the maggots, but it’s better than a lot of other things.”
“Huh.” Collin smirked. “Like what, being a street mime?”
Adwyn just shrugged.
“You really want to know?” Collin asked before Adwyn could look away. “It’s simple. I know too much about death already. I’ve been buried twice, once by accident, and it taught me many things.” he trailed off, staring at the table, thinking about wooden boxes.
“You don’t like closed in spaces?”
Collin looked up sharply, but Adwyn didn’t smile at all. “Fine, that. And that it all doesn’t matter. I’m me and you aren’t and we’ll never understand each other, because there is wood and empty spaces and I’m too far away from you even if I’m right here. Nothing connects us, or people at all, and we talk about love and mean lust and lust and mean desire and sex and we don’t understand that sex and love aren’t the same thing, that I can be screwing your brains out and look down and just see emptiness in your eyes.”
Adwyn turned a bright shade of pink.
“That’s all it is. We just have duties and obligations, we we call them love. We have language, and we invent words, and all they do is allow us to lie. We can’t talk with them, we can only put more distance between our bodies. And you’ll never understand me, or be me, or know anything about who I really am because we never take off our masks.”
“I asked you about being a coroner, though,” he said softly.
“See? You’re just proving my point. I told you.”
Adwyn hesitated a moment, then drew a deep breath and shook his head. “You just said things that sounded pretty. Like a poem. You never really said anything.”
“That’s the point!” Collin waved a hand and Adwyn jerked back. “No one listens! No one even tries to read between the lines! We tell the truth, and no one pays attention! No one cares! The truth is just another lie because no one wants to try and bridge the gaps! And you think I’m not telling you the truth? It’s all we have, and we waste it because it’s not love either!”
“You don’t need to shout?”
“And you could speak up for once! You’re too gods-cursed shy for someone who’s never died!” Collin took a deep breath. “I was buried because of the plague 13 years ago,. when my mother was off working, but I recovered. In the plague room, filled with bodies of the dead, I chose life! And three years ago, some bastards drugged me and buried me just because they were bored. I had to crawl up out of the earth, breaking my fingers, and I don’t even know their names. But we all do that. Crawl up, and try and reach other people.. The distance between us is too great to bridge.
“And we are all hollow and pathetic and lost little creatures without hope, because hope is too hard to find and we piss on it and choose hatred over it and being cynical over being happy and we always take the easy way out! I’ve known too much of death to waste time with corpses, of the living or the dead.”
Collin walked over to the table, wrapping up tobacco and finding a match. “You’re too quiet: maybe you understand this, too, but you won’t admit it. No one likes to admit we can’t understand each other, that we’re all wandering in the dark confused and alone and filled with broken promises and hearts we broke so long ago they’ll never be whole. That’s why. I’m not going to let the world hurt me any more, not stare at dead bodies and have the living try and figure out how it happened when death happens -- we’re born, so we get to die, and they want it to mean something, to be important, to somehow get some closure and so they leave the rotting body for my mother to look at. I don’t want a part of that.
“She learns things about them, sometimes. The death don’t have secrets from the living: we can pry open carcasses and learn so very much. Some day I’ll talk without words, and someone will examine my body and learn what I’m saying. And for a moment I won’t be alone, but it will be too late to matter.” He took a puff of the cigarette and walked to the door. “That’s why.”
Adwyn just stared.