by Jason Alan

When the gun went off it scared the shit out of me, both times. Those two piercing pops, followed by the ringing in my ears. Then there was a slow, aching part immediately afterward where time made copies of itself, dragging on until the reality of it all snapped it back into place.

I thought I would feel better. Vindicated. Satisfied that I had taken his life after so many years of him degrading me. Beating me. Touching me. Violating me. But what I felt was my stomach winding itself into knots, my head a station of static after a storm knocked the cable out. The small hallway I stood in transformed into a constricting cocoon of nausea.

Gradually, as I watched his blood seep into the taupe carpet, the carpet we had just had put in last year, thoughts began bubbling to the surface. My brain was a bile, carbonated beverage, dripping with condensation on mother’s coffee table with no coaster. Would they take pity on me, would they understand? Could it be claimed as self defense even though he hadn’t done anything to me that day? Would they lock me away, and if so, what would happen of the child growing inside of me?

I backed into the wall and slid ever so slowly down it until I was sitting, thighs cradling my belly, gun still held limply in my hand and tears racing to be the first to caress my breasts. Why I felt the need to be completely naked, I don’t know. I think I had a reason for it at the time, but even a few moments before seemed like another life. As if I had died since then, and reborn as someone else entirely.

I could hear the neighbor at first knocking, then trying to come in the front door. Saying my name at first, then yelling it.

Rebecca, are you ok? Hello! Rebecca! Hello…

Then silence.

A millennium disguised as eleven minutes crept by, and then I heard the sirens. Wailing softly in the distance, coming closer. I put the gun in my mouth, tasted the cold metal, felt the rigidity of the barrel on my teeth. Then I pulled it out, my hand hitting the ground, limp again. The sirens continued to get louder. Closer.

I put the gun back in my mouth and pulled the trigger. No aching part afterward, just that piercing pop again. But it was only in my mind. I shot myself over and over again in my imagination, but in the end I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

When the police came in (they had found the back door unlocked), words came out of their mouths as they trained their own guns on me, but I didn’t know what they said. Except for the involuntary movements that the sobbing produced, I couldn’t move.

When one of them took the gun out of my hand it was still limp. It was as effortless as taking candy from a baby. A baby that had just killed her own father.