Friday, August 23, 2013

"This is not recess. Everyone is accountable."

Where I live almost everyone has a vanity plate.  It's silly.  But last night I saw one that really caught my eye "PUBLISHD".  I get that.  Good for her.

Today's fiction is backstory for another project but don't let that throw you, it's complete on its own.

By Jon Stark
August, 2013; 689 words

She stared at the pills - tiny escape capsules beckoning while klaxons raged through her head.  She picked one up and studied it - "E31" stamped on the healing poison.  She set it down.  A tumbler with three fingers of Jack distracted her.  When she set that down it was empty.

The room was dark, lit only by the dregs of a distant streetlight not quite filtered by the curtain.  It didn't matter though, she'd spent a lot of time here, knew the place well.  She closed her eyes and placed her hand on a bottle of Jack.  She refilled her glass.

She'd been through a thousand doors, been shot at and shot back, stabbed and pushed down stairs.  Nothing, all of it.  Tonight she was terrified.  The Jack disappeared from her glass in a rapid succession of slurps, burning down her throat between gasping breaths.  "E31".  The one that always got her.

It's not something easily understood if you haven’t been there - how anyone could so desperately not want to do something yet is nearly powerless chose a different path.  With startling speed she snatched a pill and scooped it into her mouth, her other hand - in practiced coordination - taking up the bottle and, no time for a glass, putting it to her lips.

The pill was lost in a rush of liquid that no longer burned.  She spilled a little and with abrupt clumsiness banged the bottle against the table.  It was loud, even to her numbed senses.  From deep within the apartment there was a muffled cry.  Connor.  He looked like his father, was named for his father, but wasn't him.  That had been a huge mistake, but he wasn't.  Connor.

She began to sob softly.  The cry came again - not awake, not in need, but an expression of solidarity – “There are more demons here than yours tonight, Mommy.”

Her eyes opened.  She shoved away from the table and stumble-ran to the bathroom.  The light was too bright but she was already blinded and didn’t care.  Without hesitation she knelt before the porcelain alter and, with two fingers placed expertly at the back of her throat, confessed her sins.

"Angie?"  A knock at the bathroom door.  "Are you okay, Baby?"

Irony.  "Yeah, Mom."  Her voice was harsh and the words burned coming out.  "I'm okay now.  Go back to bed."

"Are you sure?"

Angela could picture her mother, just outside the door in her long worn-out baby blue housecoat, leaning her head against the battered wood.  "I'm good.  You don't have to worry.  I'll be out in a minute."

There was a pause, then shuffling from outside.  She cleaned up the room and her face.  The mirror was in a very honest mood.  She slammed the light switch off.

She checked on Connor, sleeping peacefully.  She went back to the kitchen and put the bottle away.  She drank a glass of water.  Then another.  The pills still sat on the table.  "I can do this."  She spent a long moment looking out of the window, seeing where she had taken her life.  Barely looking, she put them back where her mother kept them.

Her hand rested on bottle for much too long.  "E31"

She swiped her cell phone from the table and went outside.  The night was stifling - hot and humid, filled with sirens and an unexplainable banging maybe a block away.  She lit a cigarette and dialed.

"Hello?"  He was very sleepy.

"You alone?"

"Angie?  Doesn't anybody say hi anymore?"  He was groggy but waking up fast.  "You want me to come over?"

"No.  Mom's awake.  She'd be suspicious."  A pause.  It hadn't come out as funny as she hoped.  It was more... guilty.

"You're smoking.  Rough night?"

"I... You need to know that..."  She started crying.  “I messed up.”  His words were lost but she could hear him.  She knew the tone.  He believed in her.  Even when nobody else did.

"You can do it, Angie.  You can beat this thing.  I'm right here."

He promised everything would be alright.  He really believed that.  And maybe she did too.

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