Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Flash Fiction: "She"

    Often when I write a story, I have no idea ahead of time where it's headed. I'm not the kind of author who sees the beginning, middle, and end of a story before beginning the writing process. I simply start writing and see what happens. Sometimes nothing happens, and I am forced to scrap the piece. Sometimes the story takes an all-too-familiar turn, and I begin to doubt myself – is it too much like something that's already written (perhaps something I've even read), is it too predictable, is it too boring? Sometimes it is one of these things, and I have to willfully change the course of the story. And sometimes the piece takes an unexpected turn, often in a darker direction, and I am surprised by it. Such is the case with "She".
    I don't always agree with the actions and choices of my characters, but I almost always find them interesting. This story involves a desperate young lady, facing a bleak future, who decides to end her own life. The only question in her mind is how to do it. This tragic story is not intended to glorify or endorse suicide in any way; but rather to make the reader think and feel and empathize. I won't say "Enjoy it!" because it's not enjoyable. It's sad. But I hope you'll read it anyway....

    She dries her eyes with a Kleenex doused in lighter fluid or baby urine or some other undesirable, and ponders her choices.

    The last time she tried she was only eleven years old. Her feeble attempt had ended in a broken arm and bruised pelvis, but was otherwise unsuccessful.

    There are so many ways to die, not one better than another, and she must choose.

    She could open up her veins and let out the bad things, along with all the blood, and pass slowly.

    She could borrow a gun, cherish the taste, and let it explode inside her head.

    She could take pills – that wouldn’t be so bad. She’s taken so many of them for the sickness all these years. It wouldn’t be as quick, but there also wouldn’t be much pain.

    She wishes she could ask her friends what to do, but they are all gone now. The sickness has taken them all, one at a time, over far too short a span, and they can’t help her anymore. She wonders if any of them ever had the same thoughts, and is certain that they did.

    She wishes there was another way; she doesn’t want to have to do it. But it’s probably too late. After all, she’s already infected her eyes with whatever disgusting fluid had soiled the Kleenex she’d picked up off the street. She might even be going blind at this moment.

    If only her father were here, he would have an answer for her. Undoubtedly, he would say that she was doing the wrong thing, that she had too much to live for, that there were always options. But fathers are supposed to say these things, aren't they?

    Her father must realize that every other potential solution has been exhausted long before this moment. If he were honest, she thinks, he would tell her to go through with it – and quickly. But her father is at home watching ESPN.
    She thinks of her mother, that disgusting witch who bore her seventeen years earlier. She thinks of the many times she has walked in on her mother in the throes of passion with someone other than her father.

    How many times upon being discovered her mother had not even bothered to cover her filthy body as she approached her daughter with a faux-maternal smile that seemed to say, It's okay, sweetie, Mommy's just having a little fun.

    Maybe she will take pills. Surely there are over-the-counter painkillers that, when taken in large quantities, will effectively kill all the pain, along with the sickness.

    She starts to cry again. She tells herself that these are hopeful tears, in anticipation of a better life beyond this one. But she knows that they are tears of bitterness and fear all wrapped up together.

    She feels the knot in her stomach shift slightly as a wave of nausea passes over her again. She hates being sick all the time. She's too young to feel this ancient.

    Children, even teenage children, aren't supposed to die this way. But she has been dying for a long time now. The sickness went away for a while, and she was well. But even then, she’d dreaded each new day, afraid that the pain would return, and with it the disease.

    She knows that it will eventually take her anyway. But she's tired of waiting. She wants to hasten the inevitable. Fixing her jaw resolutely, she takes her first step toward forever. It’s a short walk to the 24-hour pharmacy, and she heads in that direction, seeking closure.

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