It takes a lot for someone who professes that she can't write to send a story my way.
But J has a remarkable talent that I think needs to be explored.
So in that vein, I made an edit to her latest, and asked if I could post it on The Tension. She agreed.
(Now if I could just get her to explore her talents on a blog on her own...)
The breeze is crisp, with just the hint of winter in the air. Almost all the leaves have fallen off of the oaks, which surround the small cabin.
She sits in her grandmother’s ancient rocking chair, which she has drug onto the porch, and snuggles in the warmth of a quilt she found at the country store in town earlier that week. She can feel the sun’s warmth as it rises over the hills. Still half asleep from the night before, she cradles the cup of too-hot coffee, just breathing in the aroma for the moment.
The golden retriever lies by her side, always by her side, and he makes small whining noises and soft barks at the imaginary creatures in his dreams. She runs light fingers through his thick coat, hoping to calm him.
Her coffee has cooled enough to drink and she finishes it quickly, not taking the time she would like to enjoy it. Already the grandfather clock in the hall has struck eight bells and she knows she needs to be ready before her guests arrive.
The same routine, the same everyday motions, usually left her with more than enough time. But today was special. Today was the beginning and an ending – and she wanted to make the most out of every minute.
Into the shower for a quick rinse, she slips into her favorite pair of panties, then into the only pair of jeans that fit her the way she likes, low on the hips, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt to cover the colostomy bag, the missing breasts and all the scars that went with it, both inside and out.
Her sister arrives first and in succession friends, other family. Seated in the living room with it’s over stuffed chairs and couches, they talk quietly, guarded.
When she moved in three months ago - after the doctors told her it wouldn’t be much longer and really wouldn’t she be more comfortable at the hospital? - she took down all the animal trophy heads. They reminded her too much of what she had lost. Their vacant eyes cried of pain and loss, something she knew more about than she ever thought she would.
With everyone gathered, she feels remarkably well.
Kisses and hugs and polite “How have you been?” and “You look so good.” All the things people are suppose to say, until she turns around and they whisper, “Have you seen how much weight she’s lost?” or “The circles under her eyes are so dark.”
It’s OK, she thinks. She’s made the pleasantries and made her rounds. It’s time.
“Everybody, if I can have your attention?”
She stands at the top of the stairs and looks so very small, so very weak.
“I have decided there will be no more treatments, no hospitals.”
Gasps and small chatter erupt, but she pays no attention.
“Thank you all for coming out one last time to see me, I love each one of you and you are all very special to me.”
She waves slightly and smiles warmly, taking the time to look each loved one in the face, making eye contact.
She turns to the curio in the hall and takes out a nickel-plated .22 and palms it. Its cold, heavy steel fits perfectly in her emancipated hand.
She turns, puts the barrel in her mouth, lips painted in her favorite light fuchsia for the occasion, and pulls the trigger.
In the time it takes for her to crumple to the bare wood floor, she hears their screams. But it’s too late. There’s an oncoming darkness, a rush of peace, mixed with spent gunpowder.
And at the end, she smells the coffee, feels the soft fur of her lovely boy, the sweet warmth of the sunrise.
There is no pain.