THAT ONE DAY
A father watches his little girl blossom into a little lady on her sixteenth birthday through the lens of a camera, and his nostalgia. A man watches, and wonders where he'd missed his chance at family, as he searches for the courage to end his life. A student, facing doubts about his own family, and his faith, sees a threat, and acts. A boy with a gun has had enough, and decides that they must all face his wrath.
On that one day their lives are shattered, and in the years that follow, they search the pieces for another chance.
PT. 2 | Chapter 4: SAVE ME! KILL ME!
Charlie was unsure of the time, but the hour seemed late. On a day like this the hours all seemed late, leaping and lurching with jarring irregularity. He felt certain that he’d been up since at least six that morning, the time on the red nixie tube wall clock in his living room showing just twelve minutes past when he’d risen. After what felt like all morning, he checked again and saw that less than twenty minutes had passed, the clock now showing six-thirty. Nothing in his brain had cued that time had moved further than another few minutes more when he looked again; he hadn’t eaten, he’d had nothing to drink that wasn’t alcoholic, and no urges had compelled him from his spot on a rundown old burgundy couch except to mix another cocktail. When he looked at the clock, noticing that it was just three minutes to ten at night, Charlie was feeling too apathetic to care, even if he couldn’t help thinking he should.
He spent much of this day as he had spent many of his days before; draped in his old robe and pajamas, sitting quietly, mulling, and mentally dancing his way through an unreasonable dilemma. Fatal desire welled from within, leaving him in bitter awe of the awfulness of what clearly lay ahead. One big tease, greatest of all lies, the sadistic cheat that would keep him twisting frantically around like a kite in a personal storm.
He felt his fingers tighten around the flashy mother of pearl grips, and they mildly warmed against his skin. He turned his hand at the wrist, and the nickel-plated finish winked at him with cruel joviality.
His blood thrashed madly in his ears and in his chest when he felt the scales were tipping. He needed only the strength, and if not strength then rage, and if not rage then some awful anything hot enough to drive him to the one quick act that would free him from his pain. Charlie could almost taste the anticipatory warmth creeping over the back of his tongue, and the poisonous lie would spill in like cheap wine to extinguish the compulsion just enough; keeping the muzzle of a gun from his mouth without really abating the urge to die.
That lie, that glorious goddamned lie he’d been told all his life until he was passively reciting it to himself in knowing futility. The lie filled him like the light of faith, though really the lie was faith all its own; cross and chapel. From waking dreams, to nightmare slumbers. From background static, to the obnoxious tune that just wouldn’t go away. All of it that capricious, cheating lie. To deliverance or demise, whichever path Charlie chose, that lie would be his guide.
A quick peek at the clock showed two fifty-three. Morning again, but he was feeling as though he were still living in yesterday. Yesterday was still the day before, and the day before that may as well have been a week ago. A week or a day, it really didn’t matter; his chronology now measured by the bottle, instead.
Charlie rose, leaving his pearlescent handled promise on a coffee table cluttered with a week’s worth of life’s debris. Scattered rumples of torn yellow notepad paper lay in disheveled heaps, pinned by empty highball glasses coated with dry scotch and orange juice. More paper rustled around his slipper shodden feet as he shuffled toward his kitchen. He passed a bleary-eyed glance at a few of the pages on the floor, remembering only then that they had been part of some despairing attempt at catharsis. A few notes on some, but those were discarded, his mind slipping quickly in and out of fixating upon the lie. On some pages he’d written ‘SAVE ME’, in a lunatic scrawl. On other pages ‘KILL ME’, same scrawl, somehow saner.