In the End

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 51 Take Two

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

In the end, she tells herself for the millionth time; it was only an accident. He hadn’t meant to injure her in this most irreversible manner. This had been the unfortunate outcome of an unintentional flirtation. He hadn’t meant to die, but only to taste the long imagined cessation of feeling, loathing, comparing. Surely, that was all this had been, right?

The medical examiner’s judgment would forever be the period of this chapter in her life. ‘Suicide.’ Death by self-selected means. That would always be the balance point. The story between her last contact with him and that verdict, however, was in her domain.

The saddest bit for her? Her last contact with him would forever be her last contact with him. To her credit, she did her best to remember every slight detail of their last encounter. How she had rested with him on her couch, gently touching his head as they napped together. A deeper, more intimate meeting would have been preferred by her, but by that time too much water had passed under the bridge.

The subject, a white male aged 59, lay in his bathtub and made longitudinal knife slashes along both wrists. The resulting tissue damage was too severe for Dr. Huang to repair. The board finds no wrongdoing on Dr. Huang’s part.

He had only meant to flirt with death that night; she tells herself for not the first time. However, death was in no mood for a mere flirtation that night. She had demanded payment, and it had been forthcoming.

It left her precious little wiggle room in which to rationalize. Still, she did her best. Still, she tried. She had to. He had been a kind man. Perhaps the kindest she had known.

“He was only sad,” she told her friends over and over.

“He was only playing,” she tried again with those willing to endure a second round of explanations.

They all took pity on her, nodding their head in the deemed appropriate level of sympathy. Nodding, commiserating until the perceived time limit had been crossed. When the limit had been crossed, regardless of where she hovered emotionally, they quickly closed shop. They were blunt, understanding, sympathetic, but they were gone then.

It turns out people are far more flexible in forgiving the sufferer who takes pills, overdoses than the one brazen enough to open their veins.

He loved her. Of that, she was clear.

So selfless had he been. That was the only logical explanation she had postulated time after time before her long-suffering friends.

“Yeah, that, or he was just overly needy, codependent even, that he allowed you to abuse him until one night he just snapped and opened the veins in both wrists and fled to whatever was, or was not, waiting for him next,” several people had wanted to say but didn’t.

To the end, he remained firmly agnostic.

He wanted to reconnect with his nephew, the formerly outspoken atheist, turned/returned to the flock of believers with conspicuously good timing. In the end, he went to his grave without restoring the relationship with his brother’s son.

Maybe it was because he feared his learned nephew might top him in the necessary ‘debate.’ Maybe, just maybe, his nephew would voice some argument for which he had no counter.

While he had never felt bold enough to embrace the overheavy mantle of ‘atheist,’ his nephew, at one point, had. And he regrets he hadn’t revisited their relationship status at one of those times. Not that he would encourage him in his entrenched polarization – for to him, the extreme atheists were almost as bad as the fundamentalists. Surely the question of faith ought to include some ‘not sure’ or intermediate response options as a survey answer.

“He was only depressed.” She tentatively tries out her new excuse with a mutual friend.

They exchange a sad look that conveys more than words could ever.

But she is up and moving. Forever moving, postulating, explaining. How could she do anything else?

He had loved her, and he lost faith. He gave up. What other rational explanation was there?

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