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Just Count To Ten

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The basement carpet feels rough against my bare feet, digging into my flesh. Carpet, as far as I’m concerned, is supposed to be soft, but this one, bought in large used chunks at a yard sale and haphazardly put together by dad, provides more discomfort than the cold cement flooring underneath it. Silently, I continue walking, cautiously avoiding a block tower built by my two younger brothers. It smells down here, I decide, and badly. The pungent scents of beer and the cheap perfume Mom wears when she feels like being feminine and put together, (which isn’t very often, as she usually walks around in pajamas with hair resembling a disheveled birds nest), wafts through the musty basement air.
I can see Dad’s gun case ahead of me, barely recognizable in the dark, and suddenly my hand begins to tremble. Kateland, you can do this. You can. Taking a shaky breath, I switch on the flashlight. The key. I need the key. I’ve watched Dad hide it many times, concealing myself behind our lumpy 20-year old sofa. I just have to have the courage to find it, to pull it out from underneath the beat up desk where it is taped, where I know it is taped.
The flashlight’s beam of light doesn’t do much good, providing just a pale stream of yellow illumination stretching a mere four feet ahead of me, if that. It’s old, like everything else in this house. Probably older than me even. And suddenly I’m there. Standing there. Right there. In front of the desk. Part of me wants myself to blank out, wants myself to forget about the key, forget about the gun. Forget. Just forget everything wrong in my life, which is not an easy task. My stomach churns. Stop it, Kateland. Just stop it. You can do this. You can. I kneel down in front of the desk, my knees pressing into the carpeting. A sharp pain shooting up my knee is almost enough to make me stop, make me stand up, but I don’t. I’m far too close now. Instead, I simply reach down and pull the shard of beer bottle out of my flesh, placing it on the carpeting.
My hand reaches up under the desk and the flashlight’s beam follows it reluctantly. I can feel it now. A cold metal lump, fastened to the hard wood surface by a tacky piece of gray duct tape. My clammy fingers hastily grapple for the key that has the power to change my fate. With a rip of the tape, it is finally mine, clenched between my sweaty fingers, cold and rigid and scary, but beautiful at the same time. Beautiful because it will give me what I want. Scary because what I want might not be what I should want. I let the duct tape fall to the floor, wrinkled and sad, defeated, joining the other pieces in the lumpy gray heap that serves as my dad’s personal tape garbage dump. I realize, with a sickening feeling, the beer bottles next to the tape pile. An empty vodka bottle sits beside them. My heart sinks. The basement smelling of beer, the bottle shards, the empty bottles, so much for going sober. But I can’t let that bother me now. In a few seconds, I won’t have to worry about that. At all. I crawl over to the gun cabinet, pushing the key into the lock, twisting it. A click. I gulp. No turning back now. The flashlight beam wavers with my shaking hand. All the same, it provides enough light to scan the gun rack. I’ve watched Dad with his guns, though he never knew it. I’ve watched him polish them, load them, arrange them in their case, their glass and mahogany case, possibly the prettiest thing in our house. He loaded one yesterday. Which one though? I scan the rack with my flashlight. There! There it is. Shiny and black, freshly polished. That’s the one. I put the flashlight down, tilting it so that it still shines the little light it has to offer on the gun rack. My hands close around the gun, clasping its barrel in my hands. With a sudden jolt, I pull it out of the case.
I position myself cross-legged and lean up against the cracking wall. The gun feels heavy in my hand, gleaming at me menacingly. I pull it up, curling my right hand around the trigger and pushing the barrel against my right temple. The coldness of it sends shivers down my spine. I’ll count to ten. That’ll make it easy. Just count to ten and pull the trigger and then it will all be over, it’ll all be done. Zero. Zero dollars in the bottom of my piggy bank, the one Gram got me for Christmas. Sarah and I made it a goal to have at least fifty in it by the end of the summer from the friendship bracelet business we want to start. Thinking of the business brings a small smile to my face. Sarah and I against the world, armed with colorful cotton strings. One. One dog, Pepper, old and gray and sick, but still mine. Mine to love and walk with every Saturday around the lake. Mine to whisper my secrets to, even though I know she can’t understand. Two. Two rambunctious and obnoxious little brothers who drive me insane, but whom I love with every fiber of my being. Two brothers who mean the world to me, who I would do anything for. Three. Three best friends. Three best friends who I laugh with, who I cry with, who I share everything with. Three best friends who I love. Four. Four grandparents. Grandparents who are annoying and crabby but sweet and caring all at the same time. Grandparents who spoil me because they know my parents can’t. Four grandparents who mean the world to me. Five. The number on the back of Nick’s baseball jersey, Nick who I foolishly yearn for but who I think might just foolishly yearn for me back. Six. Six fish swimming around in the murky water of our upstairs fish tank. Six fish whose colorful fins and gills shining through the gray water always remind me that you can be cheerful no matter how dismal your circumstances. Seven. My lucky number. The number that makes me smile whenever the grandfather clock chimes it. Eight. Eight pairs of faded, stained converses in the back of my closet, each representing a summer of my childhood. The thought of them plunges me back into my innocent years, years full of love and happiness, years full of obliviousness and giggles. Nine. Nine chapters done in the twenty chapter book I’m attempting to write, hidden in a notebook under my bed. Ten. Ten reasons, ten good reasons, not to kill myself. And with this, I put the gun down.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

forsaken_sadness said...
Oct. 17, 2012 at 2:32 am
This was so inspiring! I've had moments like this... where everything was wrong, and it seemed like the right answer to just end it. But then you think about what is good in life, and the people that you care about most, and nothing matters anymore. This was wonderfully written and I hope you keep writing your inspiring peices!! Great job!
 
BridgetB replied...
Oct. 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm
Thank you so much! :)
 
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