Present Day: Tuesday 11th March
He didn't look anything like him anymore. The skin was drawn and lined beyond its age. The closed eyes were sunken into the face and the arms were riddled with small holes. Technically Zack didn't need to look at him in such detail. He only needed to identify him.
"Yeah, that's Cody."
The mortician, a middle aged man with balding brown hair closed the slab and Cody leant against the wall, head in hands. His knees felt weak, as though they were going to buckle beneath him and he wouldn't care if they did. Cody's body was hidden now but Zack could swear that he could still see him.
He felt his knees finally give way as he sank down to the floor. Twenty-three, they were only supposed to be twenty-three. He swallowed his pride as the mortician helped him to stand up and go outside for air.
The sun was out, the sky such a dazzling blue that it hurt his eyes to look up. Other people populated the side-walk and Zack felt a rush of anger spread through him at their smiling faces. He took a moment to steady himself, letting the anger flood through him before washing it away as he had been taught to do.
He nodded to the mortician to signify that he wasn't going to faint and the moment he was left alone he pulled out his mobile, dialling his mother's number, his mind flooding with the memory of the last time they had spoken about his brother.
19th April (Three Years Ago)
Carrie squealed lightly as she enveloped Cody in a hug, not having seen him for two weeks.
"Hey." He returned the hug half-heartedly, his voice heavy.
"What's wrong sweetie?"
He wasn't sure if he should tell her or not. She was happy today; he had become used to it again and didn't want to ruin it. But she deserved to know. "I ran into Cody this morning."
"Oh," she released him from the hug and her face visibly fell. He felt guilty but he had started, so he should finish.
"He said he's been in rehab again. But he left, didn't like the councillors."
"I was thinking… If we just…"
"If we just what? Gave him more money? He'll just spend it all on more heroin!" Unshed tears glistened behind her eyes as she looked him directly in his. "He's my son. And I was always love what he was, but I can't deal with what he is. I just can't talk about him anymore."
That had been the last time they'd talked about him and Zack felt his stomach clench as she picked up the phone.
"Zack" How are you?"
He tried to think of a way to say it gently but couldn't help himself from blurting it out. "I'm at the morgue. Cody's dead. Overdose." His knees weakened again as his body quivered from trying not to cry, he had to be strong for her.
There was a silence before her voice came through; a broken whisper, "I'll be right there," before the phone went dead.