"All of Me"
new flash fiction, (c) 2012 by C. N. Nevets
I shudder with the purest relief I have ever felt, as if the warm blood that is washing over my hands is both a soak for my body and a baptism for my soul. The smell is horrific, and I have to breathe through my mouth. I close my eyes. The sight is just as horrific as the smell.
But the relief . . .
That is real, and that is pure, and that is everything.
Months. Months of build-up. Months of taut consideration. Months of stressing the details and fretting over the plans and projections. Months of weighing the pros and the cons. Months of knowing what I had to do, but knowing how much I did not want to do it.
And now there is relief.
Slowly, I open my eyes, but I do not allow them to drift toward the floor. They rest on the wall. They rest on a picture of my wife and me in our dune buggy, the dune buggy I had sold when it became clear that it was a distraction from work. My gaze slides a little to the right, where it finds a picture of my parents and my brothers and sisters, whom I have not been able to see for about three years; the vacation time just wasn’t there.
I take a deep breathe.
My eyes turn downward a little. I can see a little table with a picture of my son in a batting helmet. I was going to be his coach. That had always been the plan. I had never been able to see him play a single game.
I pivot on my heels. I can see a pile of books on another table. The spines of the books are flecked in blood. I can picture them perfectly, even so. I know the spines of those books well. They were my future. Once the time was right, I was going to ease out of my job and start a business building and repairing sailboats. I had been studying the craft all my life. I had the tools. I had a skeleton of a boat that I had started in college. I had the books. They were now flecked in blood. The time wasn’t right.
The phone rang.
I ignored it.
I dropped to my knee.
I looked at what I had done. What I had not wanted to do. What I had to do. Months of build-up. And now relief.
The phone was still ringing.
Sacrifice. I don’t take it lightly. I’m the guy who doesn’t take anything lightly. I’m the guy who actually cares. The guy who actually tries. The guy who puts his personal life last. The guy who –
The answering machine picks up.
“Ryan, we had a leadership meeting and we’ve decided to go in another direction. It’s nothing personal. We know how much work you put in, and you’ve done a good job for us. The organization just needs to make serious changes, and unfortunately, there’s not really going to be a spot for you anymore. Take your two weeks.”
– I drop the knife from my right hand. I sink to the floor.
The blood is drying on my hands, sticky and suffocating.