It Is What It Is.

by Chloe Nightingale


     Elsie 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.
A different program was on the TV, too.

     How long this time?

     She looked at the clock. 4:27. Over 2 hours.

     The 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 --


     She 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 spouting gobbledy-gook.

     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 to phone.

     Her 2 sons began taking turns, stopping in at her 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
since 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 late anyway.

     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.

     The 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 hands.


     When she awoke, the gun was nowhere to be found.

     Maybe I'll have that whiskey, after all, Elsie thought.

The End.


  Copyright  2007 Chloe Nightingale.

Chloe is a short, crabby slacker living in Scotland. You can find more of her work at

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