The VERY first draft of something I'd like to eventually use for contests.
I ease myself down onto the couch and just as my head hits the armrest, the TV in front of my feet flashes to life.
Eddie, this old guy on the screen, he looks at his wife and says, "Tara, I don't know what I'd ever do without you." She gives him a loving, "tsk" and the audience goes, "aww".
I hate this show, and I feel nothing.
I sit down on the couch, trembling, but still smiling.
From the living room window behind my head, a streetlight glows, making the pistol in my hand shine. I've loaded it with a single bullet.
My dad, this young guy in my mind, he's holding a crying, naked, writhing baby in a hospital room. He looks at my mom and says, "this is our son." She reaches up from her hospital bed and strokes his arm.
I hate these people, and I feel nothing.
I change the channel. This is what I do. I wake up, shower, go to school, sit in different classrooms, learn different things, have different people try and prepare me for the real world. Then I come home and watch TV. Get whisked off to mars, the Jeffersons', the county jail. Anywhere but here. Any way I can escape. Fuck the real world.
I pull the trigger as I aim the gun at the light-pink chair across from me. The round's empty, but in my mind the chair explodes into pieces of fluff against the living room wall. The picture of a farmhouse that's above the chair falls and smashes on the floor.
When I was a kid, my mom would sit on that chair and put me on her knee and tell me stuff.
Different houses, different lessons, same chair.
"Sometimes parents fall out of love", "moving away can be fun, too", "treat people with respect, or they will leave your life". With lessons like these in my head, no wonder I want to escape.
I change the channel and it's adult cartoons. My mom used to never let me watch these, but now that I'm older she doesn't mind. When I was younger it was weird to people. A cartoon for adults. Kids would be allowed to watch it, and the next day they'd come to school with all this magical new knowledge. They had learned more than just addition and subtraction. And their vocabulary had grown substantially. After just thirty minutes, their kid innocence was gone. They knew things that made the world dark, dirty, and rude. And they couldn't be happier. Especially when their parents found out and cried and yelled and blocked the channel and wrote angry letters. Especially when their parents were upset, the kids were happy.
I've pointed the gun at the family cat and pulled the trigger. The round's empty, I knew it would be. I still feel a little bad, because when I was a kid I loved that cat so much. Moving, switching schools -- all that made it so that she was my only friend and playmate a lot of the time.
But as I grew older, I realised she wasn't much of a friend. Actually, she hated me. I'd come around and she'd wag her tail and it took me years to realise cats don't do that when they're happy like dogs do. It means they're annoyed. It means the mere sight of me pissed her off. It means the one living creature that I thought was always there for me through all this shit stuck around because my mom never ran out of treats. All that trust was made up. Bullshit. A kid's fantasy. So actually, maybe I don't feel so bad for pretending to kill her.
It's about time. I'm done here. No more trying to call a house a home. No more best friend who's a house pet that hates me. No more, "it's okay, mom. He's not worth your tears".
So I put the gun between my lips and I'm shaking again. I'm mostly just scared it'll hurt. I wish I cared it'd hurt my mom. But I'm past that point, or I wouldn't be sitting in my living room with a gun between my teeth. I take a breath and I'm ready to escape. I close my eyes and wait for the -
I jump at the unexpected sound. I always just assume my mom's asleep this late at night. But not tonight. She's coming inside. The door's in a straight line from the couch, and she sees me immediately, basking in the glow of TV light. She sees me escaping.
She's in the living room now, standing in front of the TV.
She gives me an affectionate look. "Aren't you tired?" she asks me.
I shake my head, then move so as to see past her to the TV. I hope she leaves.
"Could you... could you maybe turn off the TV and talk to me?"
I think about that. Escape versus listening to complaints about men, about dad, her job, her friends. Maybe even complaining a little myself. TV or reality?
It's an easy choice.
I jump at the unexpected sound. My secret's going to be exposed, someone's unlocked the door and they're coming inside. I don't know who it could be. They can't take the gun from me. But when I try to pull the trigger, I can't. Maybe the shock of the door opening made me pussy out. Maybe I don't want someone I know well enough that they can get into my house to see me blow my brains out. The only people with keys, though, are me, and...
I hadn't even bothered to check if my mom was home. She's rarely out. But she does go on dates, or out with friends.
The door's just down the hall from the living room. She could seem me the second she locked it.
And she's beside me already.
She's oddly calm. It's bizarre. She shakes her head slowly, brown curly hair bouncing, as if I've gone and done something silly. As if her only kid didn't have a gun in their mouth, looking up at her, shaking, beginning to cry.
She makes a soft sound of understanding, and says, "It's hard right now, isn't it?"
I tell her I have to escape, moving the gun just enough so she can understand me.
"An escape is a vacation. This is more like moving away... to another planet."
I actually laugh a little. She's such a good mom. She can always fix a bad mood. But I'm not sure that's enough to make me stick around.
She tells me, "Hon, you're eventually going to want to put that gun down. Give it to me, honey."
My hand's shaking. I'm so torn between doing what she says and escape.
She tells me, "come on," in a soft voice and reaches out her hand. It's shaking too, calm as she sounds.
I turn the volume up. My mom stands there awkwardly for a couple minutes, then, with a sad look, she walks away. The show on now, it's awful.
But my mom can't save me. No one can. So I change the channel.
I put the safety on. I don't want to end up accidentally killing her.
I give my mom the gun, and she gives me a smile. If anyone's taught me life is tough, it's her, so I guess she understands.
She sits down in her pink chair, still intact. "Let's just watch some TV," she says.