30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 9

Photo by Spencer Tamichi on UNSPLASH.

My head is pounding like a drum. I come to and wish to go away in the same breath. Where was I? Sleeping apparently, duh.

But the bigger question is ‘where am I?’

I have yet to open my eyes, yet I feel something is off with this waking.

For one thing, I feel way more vertical than usual. Ordinarily, I wake on my cot? Wait, what did I mean by that? I sleep in a bed, don’t I?

Nope. I think cot was correct after all.

And in a cot, one is generally more or less arranged in a horizontal orientation. Here, as I said, I feel more ‘stacked’ than usual.

“I’m sitting up,” I say hoarsely. My eyes are still closed, and the pounding headache encourages me to keep them closed; maybe sleep will claim me again if I refuse to acknowledge any level of wakefulness now?

No such luck. My headache pounding recedes ever so slightly; the background noise diminishes as if my waking were the point of this, the first act in a play.

If this is a play, if this is only an act, it certainly feels like a significant transition in whatever story this is. When I open my eyes and finally look down, I see wide, sweat-stained leather straps securing me to a wooden chair. Then I see the wires, as in the things used to convey electricity? I’m dreaming, or I’ve just awakened in an electric chair.

Some small part of my consciousness recognizes that it knew this was on the schedule today. But, then a more pressing question pushes its way forward.

“Why am I in an electric chair?”

Did I say that out loud?

There are bright lights in the darkened room. I sense before me a large panel of glass separating me from a darkened room of people watching me; all I can see of them is their dark profiles against a medium blue wall. Why are they here?

‘Don’t be daft,’ some inner voice suggests. You knew there would be spectators. Not many, but a few.

Her daughters are there, I see, and the truth tries to rush in, but I shut my eyes on it before it can fully enter my awareness. I’m looking for my headache, hoping it will come back so I can have another distraction from this truth.

And what is my truth, today of all days?

The truth is simple; I’m minutes from being electrocuted, and I deserve to be here, in this chair.

I did what the prosecution said I did.

He was a well-dressed man with immaculate, wavy dark hair, who never treated me with anything other than respect, the district attorney. He was, however, trying to have me executed (with electricity – this is Texas) for my crime.

I didn’t care. I deserve this punishment.

I thought that I would be able to pull the trigger on the man that killed the only woman I’ve ever truly loved.

But the enormity of what I’d done rose inside me instantly, and I cried violently.

I’d taken a life; I’d taken HER life. Elsie was dead now, by my hand. With the admission of that truth came an iceberg of guilt and sadness. It’s ironic, I guess; I was too sad to kill myself afterward. That had been my plan for months.

I can’t say I regret it. Not that I’m a heartless psychopath, but then again, isn’t that the sort of thing a psychopath might say?

No, my lack of regret (if not remorse, of that I’ve got oodles) is because my actions shortened her suffering.

Her constant criticisms and nagging, in my world view, represented a soul that was suffering – loudly.

And any time I ever tried to discuss her anger with her, she shut down immediately, got angry, defensive, stormed off. But the person storming off wasn’t Elise. The eyes that looked at me during those times belonged to another. So I told myself constantly, her condition, whatever her diagnosis might be, was not her fault; this was chemical.

But it was her responsibility, and she seemed intent to ignore it forever. And I couldn’t accept that. So I did what I did.

The warden and representative from the Texas capitol just entered the tiny execution chamber.

Please, God, if you exist at all, please, please, please, don’t let there be a pardon. I’m ready to go.

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