by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all
She sat alone on the white spread of her rod iron bed, watching the balloons tied to the foot board. “Fun, foxy, and fifty” one read. Her mother had said she didn’t need balloons, but she had got them anyway; along with a few hundred dollars worth of roses. She could go and decorate the table, she could do this much.
She looked back on the creamy blanket she’d used to cover her nakedness, on it lay the brushed steel of a Smith & Wesson .38 Special.
The hollow points loaded in it’s chamber were a mean thing. She knew only too well how they worked. She knew how effective they could be.
It had been a long time since she’d contemplated the gun. It wasn’t right to contemplate now; not on her mothers fiftieth birthday. Not when the whole extended family had come in to town for the party. What kind of daughter would she be if—?
Grandpa’s death three weeks ago had left a bad taste in her mouth. She hadn’t cried, she’d held herself together despite any inklings of emotion. People had thought she was strong for it; she had been able to comfort, she had been strong as steel, now they had this mistaken impression she wasn’t as fragile as she felt.
The .38 Special would settle that. One hollow point round could prove how fragile she was, leaving no room for doubt.
And no one would have to say anything. She’d leave a piece of graph paper under the door, warning Him that there would be a mess. To not open the door. To just call 911. And maybe the Funeral Home.
But that wouldn’t be right, not on Mom’s fiftieth. What would her elder sister say if she knew that the gun was here, within hands reach? What would be said?
She could hear the screaming. She could hear the vacant air of silence. She could hear it all, the why’s and what if’s. But she’d be free; she could be done with it all. Done with the hurt, done with the pretending, done in general with being anything.
Temptation is the barrel. The promised whisper that swears to erase all doubt, all the stinging shame, all the bitterness.
She might even get the chance to ask God something; some empty question like “What do you think?” or “How are you?”
She knew how she was, but there weren’t words enough to say it. There was only this; her with her blanket and gun, and everyone else, unaware.
After Grandpa’s death, she knew how well the world worked. The steady footsteps of the passerby, the honk of the car horn, the onward, continued chatter of existence…
The world would carry on.
She just wouldn’t be with it. It would be one man down the next morning. Only a handful would feel that, but in the end, it would not change anything.
The balloons swayed slightly in the breeze from the air conditioner. She had to take them, and the flowers, and endure.
She had to just endure.
Endure to use the gun some other day.
Endure to wake up, and wish, and want.
She couldn’t do this today. She should have done it long ago or not at all. Too many counted on her now, too many cared.
Still, He could handle the fall out. But not today. Today she needed to put the gun back. Put it three feet away; within reach, but not hers. Today she needed to make believe the whisper of the barrel had been spoken. Today she needed to go and decorate the table.
She owed them that. She owed them another ten hours. Another day. Another 1/2 year. She owed the world that much for letting her be born when her elder sister had been aborted.
She owed herself a chance to right herself.
And the gun, and it’s little promises would still be there for her.