Chess Board – A Matter Of Life and Death
She was stuck in traffic, amid lines and lines of stationary vehicles. It’s going to be a while, she thought with a sigh. Her iPod had failed her with its dead battery and she didn’t want to be left alone with her thoughts. So she switched the radio to Tuner and started flicking through the stations she had saved until she fell upon what seemed like an interview with an author about his latest novel that tackled death and existentialism, two topics she constantly contemplated.
The interviewer sounded like one of those pretentious radio and TV hosts who ask questions they think are smart and informed when in fact they’re silly and meaningless. But she was intrigued by the author’s confidence – or was it arrogance? – and defiance.
She picked up her mobile phone, dialled the station’s number and waited for her call to go through.
– “We’ve a caller on the line,” the host finally said. “Yes, hello.”
– “Oh, yes, um, hello,” she stammered, as if awakened from a daze.
– “Hello, welcome to the show. What’s your name?” the host asked.
– “Where are you calling from, Zoe?”
– “Um, from my car. I’m stuck in traffic,” she said half smiling, half irritated by the host’s congeniality. “I’d like to ask the author a question,” she said bluntly.
– “Oh, yes, yes, of course. Go ahead.”
– “I think death is an integral part of life. There’s no one without the other. It seems that we do spend our lives defying death, by hanging on to life. But our souls last as long as our allotted bodies. That may be fatalism. But knowing that, accepting that is how we defeat death. When we philosophize, we learn how to die. What matters is how we approach our existence from the moment we are born until the moment we die, as you mentioned.”
– “Yes,” the author concurred.
She sensed her quivering voice live on the radio about to betray her. She took a deep breath to recompose herself, then said: “For me, existentialism is how we live and ultimately die. But I wonder if death were faced with the option of death or life, what would it choose?”
There was a pause on the radio.
– “You’d like me to answer that question?” the author finally asked.
– “Yes, I’d like to hear your take on it. I mean, you said that in your last novel you killed your protagonist because you wanted Death to know that he’d lost the battle, that it was time for him to come up with new ways to deal with human beings…”
“Okay,” the host jumped in. “My director is telling me it’s time for a break. We’ll hear the answer to that question after these messages from our sponsors…”
Note: This post is my first attempt at fiction and Chapter 2 of a story I’m writing with Pascal Assaf, as part of an experiment we decided to embark on. To read Chapter 1, which he authored in Arabic, click here. Now, Pascal has one week to pick up where I left off and continue the story. Feel free to post your feedback and questions in the comment box below.