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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Dark · #1930050
There are certain things in life which, once gone, can never be recaptured.
         There are certain things in life which, once gone, can never be recaptured.  Youth is an easy answer, if you’re looking for easy answers.  But there are other things, less tangible things – that is, if you can believe there are things less tangible than youth – which disappear as quickly.  Morals, I think, can fit into this category.  I’ve heard people talk about the slippery slope, but that never felt right to me.  If you’ve ever tried to catch a fish with your bare hands and actually managed to grab one, you might be able to relate.  You grab, and all you get are sharp scales and muscle, and the harder you squeeze, the less you have to hold on to.  That’s the slippery slope, to me.  My morals, when they went, flew off like kite too loosely held.  They just got ripped away.

         The thing is, once you do what you do to lose your morals, your morality, you’ll do pretty much anything to protect yourself.  That’s all I did, really.  Protect myself.

         I didn’t kill Carly.  Not entirely.  She helped; started it really.  I didn’t have a choice.  Let’s say you run over a cat on the road and break his back, so that half of him is dragging behind, just useless baggage really, while the front keeps going, or trying to anyway.  What do you do?  It happened to me once; some lady in front of me ran right over the poor thing.  She didn’t try to, slammed on her brakes so fast that I nearly ran into her.  But she did it, nonetheless.  Intentions don’t mean anything in this life, if you ask me, and this pretty much proves it in my book.  Anyway, this poor lady jumps out of her car, hysterical you know, and is just screaming and sobbing and throwing a fit.  “Oh my God, Oh my God, what did I do?”  Over and over again, like saying it enough would solicit an answer. 

         So I get out, see if I can help, but at that point there wasn’t much to do.  That poor cat was howling to beat the band too, had to be in all kinds of pain.  She pulled out a phone from her purse and started fumbling with it.  “Oh my God,” she repeated, even though I’m pretty sure she was talking to me.  “What do I do, who do I call?”  By now her breath was coming in these sort of ragged, staccato gasps, and I was pretty sure if she kept it up she was going to end up on the ground.

         “We have to kill him,” I said, as gently as I could.  “We can’t let him suffer,” I added, hoping that would clarify it for her.

         “What?” she asked, looking at me like I was the lowest, most awful thing she’d ever seen.  And you know what?  I probably was.  But what I wasn’t was Jesus, or God, or even one of those laying-on-hands preachers from the revivals.  All I was, was a guy who saw a cat that needed killing, and all I saw was a lady who wasn’t going to do it, despite being the pitcher of record.  So I did what I had to do, the only thing I could do and still live with myself.  But you know what?  That lady, she didn’t thank me.

         If you don’t know what I mean by that – being the pitcher of record – imagine you’re watching a baseball game.  It’s the top of the eighth and the home team is up by four runs.  They trot out their pitcher, and he tries his best, doesn’t intend to do the wrong thing, but before you know it, the bases are loaded, two runs are in and there’s still nobody out.  If you’re the manager, you pretty much have no choice.  You send down to the bullpen for somebody to come in and clean up the mess, close out the inning and eventually, if things work out, the game.  The guy who leaves, he’s the pitcher of record; the guy who’s responsible not only for the two runs already in, but also for the three potential runs, just waiting for their chance.  So that was me, the closer in this case, the guy who didn’t have a choice in what to do.  In the baseball game, still up by two runs, you know what you do?  You play your infield at double play depth and throw a sinker down the middle of the plate.  You hope for a grounder, trade another run for two outs.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but regardless, even if it does, sometimes the pitcher of record doesn’t appreciate the extra run being tagged to his line.  Still, if you’re the closer, you do what you have to do, and take any looks your teammate might give you.  And you know why you do that?  Because, at the end of the day, it’s the right thing for the team, and the manager, if he’s worth his salt, will shake your hand and give you a pat on the back when the inning is over, despite the extra run.  But that lady sure didn’t get it.  She couldn’t get in her car fast enough to get away from me.

         You may be wondering, if you’re the wondering type, why I would say I lost my morals, if what I say is true and I didn’t have a choice in killing Carly.  But the thing is, I can throw around all the words I want and it doesn’t change anything.  The facts are the facts, and the fact of this matter is that there’s a big difference between putting a suffering cat out of his misery and killing your wife, regardless of the reasons.  There just is.  So when I walked through the bedroom door and saw Carly laying on the bed, white froth pouring out of her mouth like she was a can of beer that had been shaken up, my first thought wasn’t that I needed to put her out of her misery.  I tried to save her.  I really did.  But the thing is, sometimes when you’re the closer, there’s just not that much you can do.  You can throw your sinker down the middle and hope for a ground ball to short, but that may not happen.  Maybe you just don’t have your best stuff and your sinker doesn’t sink, just floats there looking so much like a beach ball that you don’t know what’s bigger, it or the hitter’s eyes.  In that case, most times, the hitter’s going to torch the ball, and it’s not going to stop until it hit’s somebody’s seat out in the left field bleachers.  That’s just how it is, sometimes, in baseball.  Or maybe, just maybe, you do get it to sink, and the guy sends it to the shortstop like planned, but maybe it takes a funny bounce and the shortstop can’t handle it.  Maybe it’s an error, maybe it’s not, but what it is for sure is another run in, bases still loaded and still nobody out.  That’s what happened to me.  I threw the perfect pitch, but it didn’t matter.  Carly wasn’t going to make it, any more than that poor howling cat.

         There were two empty bottles of pills on the bed stand.  Carly was always thorough.  I was supposed to be at work, but got sick and had to come home.  I read somewhere that attempted suicides are usually a cry for help, and that the person doesn’t really want to die and sets it up so that he or she will get caught and rescued.  Carly wasn’t like that.  There’s no way she could have known I was coming home early.  She didn’t want to be caught, didn’t want to be stopped.  She took every pill in each of those prescriptions, and they were brand new – I’d just filled them the day before.  Carly didn’t want to be stopped; she didn’t want to live anymore without her baby.

         The miscarriage happened two months or so before that, and we both took it hard.  She was in her second trimester.  We knew the sex.  We were having a little girl, and were naming her Willow after Carly’s grandmother.  But things happen, sometimes, and you don’t ever know why.  We didn’t have that little girl, and Carly didn’t want to live without her.  She was dying every day of those two months, and I was too absorbed in my own grief to know or care.  It’s not great to say that, not cathartic, not therapeutic.  It sucks, but it’s true.  Carly and I both went to the doctor for depression, and both of us got pills for it, but Carly put hers – and mine – to better use.

         When I saw her convulsing on the bed, I tried to help.  I rushed over, tried to hold her still, but she ended up biting her tongue.  Now the froth was red, and I didn’t know what to do.  I called 911, told the lady on the line that my wife was dying, and she told me to hold the line, and that the paramedics were on their way.  But I wasn’t interested in holding the line.  Carly’s thrashing was slowing down, matching her breathing, and I knew what I had to do.

         In the Catholic faith, and in others I’m sure, committing suicide is a mortal sin.  You go straight to Hell, don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200; just spend an eternity suffering for the sin of not being able to take an eternity and a half of suffering here.  It’s not fair, but I don’t make the rules.  I’m not even sure who does make the rules, or if I even believe in those rules.  All I knew for certain was that Carly did believe in those rules, and I felt strongly – still do – that what you believe is part of what decides where you go when you die.  Carly believed she would go to Hell if she committed suicide, but she took those pills anyway.  If I had let her complete what she started, I felt there was a good chance she would end up there.  I couldn’t let Carly go to Hell.  We had a little girl in Heaven that needed her more, and Carly needed Willow, too.  I couldn’t save her, so I took a pillow and shoved it over her face, held it there until she stopped twitching.  I killed her, the woman I loved, the only person I wanted more than anything to spend my life with.  That was my kite, my morals, my right to live like a human being, ripped out of my hands and gone, before I even knew to hold on.

         As I sit in my cell, awaiting trial for my crime, I pray to a God I don’t really believe in, that Carly is in Heaven. I tell myself that she is. After all, she didn’t technically kill herself; I did that. Who knows? Maybe the paramedics would have arrived on time to save her life. That’s what the prosecutor is going to say, anyway.  It’s possible, right? Just like it’s possible that Carly is with Willow now.  It may be a faint hope, a foolish lie I tell myself so I can go on, but it’s what I have. It’s like a glimmer on the horizon that could be the kite I was talking about earlier, the one that got ripped from my hands. It might be that kite on the horizon, but for me, I have to believe that it is; have to spend the rest of my life chasing that kite, that faint smudge of hope, which makes what I did worthwhile.
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