366 Days of Writing · Original Posts · Short Stories

Day 121: Zeroes

“Where did all the good go?

Baby, this is where you’re dead wrong”

-“Here’s to the Zeroes” by Marianas Trench

He was righteously angry, blood simmering to a boil, hands and heart hot to the touch. Her voice was in his head-

“There’s nothing left, Michael, you’ve just got to accept that,” Becca had sighed. “You’re the only one who believes in that kind of stuff anymore.”

To Michael, this perspective was an excuse for Becca’s complete lack of ethics in recent weeks. The plagiarism was just the worst offense.

“You wouldn’t be on academic suspension if nobody cared, Becca,” he had shot back. “Why don’t you care?”

Her anger was so typically entitled, Michael had taken a step back to re-evaluate his fellow grad student. Which was where he was now, in his office, trying to get a grip. How could someone at such a high level of education have so little respect? He heard her heels on the stair. If she opened his door…

Becca opened the door.

“I still can’t believe you,” Michael said, fingers on computer keys.

“Michael, I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” she insisted. “There was no other way-“

“There is always another way!” he shouted. “Always. Why do we study these things? These books?” Michael swept a hand to indicate thousands of years of literature, all represented on his shelf. “Because they show us the other way.”

“Only for you,” she retorted. “Books lie. They create happiness from nothing. Deus ex machina, Michael. It’s all deus ex machina. We don’t get that.”

“Then why are you still here?”

“I’m not, anymore,” she snapped. “Goodbye, Michael.”

Though Becca’s expulsion was validating, Michael was never quite satisfied with the end of the tale. It was about more than her error. It was about her brazenness. Becca never conformed to myth. She remained, forever, inescapably real. Fiction might lie, but only real life allowed for static characters.


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