by Chloe Nightingale
was staring into the tea on the tray in front of her. It was cold and
there was one of those
dead fruit flies floating in it. Sunbeams
through the windows shone on a different part of the floor.
program was on the TV, too.
How long this time?
She looked at the clock. 4:27. Over 2 hours.
blanks had started 6 months earlier. At first, she wasn't sure they
were even happening
because they were so sparse and for so very few
minutes at a time. Even when they got longer,
she'd been able to hide
them, deny them even to herself. She never told anyone, couldn't bring
herself to speak the words. She got busted, though, about 4 months in,
when she was on a train
back from downtown and --
was in a police station lobby. The train had gone to the end of the
line and the ticket
collector had found her in a seat by the window
They figured maybe she'd wandered off
from one of the old folks homes and she'd been taken
to a police
station until someone came 'round to collect her. The cops rooted
through her purse so
they could ID her and maybe find a family member
Her 2 sons began taking turns, stopping in at
house once a week to make sure she was
okay. They'd made her see a
doctor, too. Even though she hadn't had a blank in 2 weeks, not
the train. It was a one-off, she lied. She was tired, she fell asleep.
But her daughter had been
at the police station before she'd come out
of the blank. The jig was up.
There's no cure and once it
starts, there's no going back. A healthy diet of vitamins, sudoku
puzzles, and brisk morning walks can only get you so far. The doctor
had asked if it ran in her
family. Elsie shrugged. Who cares? It's too
Elsie had a double barrel shotgun locked in a
glass case in the front living room. A relic from
the old days when her
husband, who'd died of a heart attack on the shitter one morning before
work, used to take the boys shootin'. It seemed so obvious once she'd
thought of it, but no one
had taken it away, so no one else had thought
of it either.
Elsie knew she had better use it before they
did think of it.
key was on top of the case and there was a half-full box of shells
inside. She thought
about having some whiskey, a last drink of sorts,
but she didn't want anyone to think she'd done
it drunk, so she had a
cup of tea. She loaded the gun and took a deep breath. She opened her
mouth, tasted metal, and clasped the trigger with the thumbs of both
When she awoke, the gun was nowhere to be
Maybe I'll have that whiskey, after all,