Sand – Part Nine

ptsd soldier stories

Short Story

 

I blink. I’m in front of Maddy’s apartment, fully dressed, with my revolver tucked into my pants.

My head is blank, wiped empty. All I can do is stare down at the doorknob, the pale light of the newly-rising sun glinting off of its tarnished surface. The hallway is deserted, the building is silent aside from the quiet hum of the air conditioning. Everything, including me, is as still as a painting.

Like electricity, realization starts to fill my head. Feeling comes back to my limbs as I blink stupidly at the door. For whatever reason, the first thing I do is reach out and turn the knob. It turns quietly with almost no resistance. Swinging forward on its hinges, the door stops after a few inches, held shut by a chain lock. For a moment, I feel disappointed.

All at once, I crash back into my senses. Panicked, I pull the door shut as quietly as I can, listening to make sure it latches. For good measure, I ball my hand under my shirt and rub the knob clean. I stumble back, my heart racing as a cold sweat seeps from the back of my neck. Taking a quick glace around, I take out the revolver. It’s freshly oiled, the hammer at a half-cock. Thumbing the button, I flip open the cylinder. Like I thought, it’s loaded with only a single bullet. My bullet.

Quickly, like I’m ashamed, I pocket the bullet and shove the gun back into my pants, covering it with my shirt. Almost all of me, my body included, wants me to get out of here as soon as possible. There’s a dried-up little corner of my brain, however, that wants to knock on the door. I want to see Maddy, to talk to her, to somehow make her listen. The gun in my belt is heavy and awkward. It’s better if I just leave.

It takes me longer than it should to make my legs start moving, but once I do I have to keep myself from sprinting like a madman to the elevator. If I have any luck left in the world, nobody saw me come inside. I’d be willing to bet on it. I came out of my flashback right before I did… something. With probably only seconds to spare. There’s proof that fortune is on my side. I jab the elevator button like I would a cockroach and wait for it while looking like the sketchiest son of a bitch on the planet. My right hand is buried in my pocket, fiddling with the bullet, while my left is tapping manically against my thigh. After a far-too-long thirty seconds, the elevator opens its doors. Nearly diving inside, I punch the bottom floor and hammer the close door button until the machine decides to catch up with itself.

Alone. For maybe a precious minute, I’m alone. Panting, I nearly collapse against the back wall of the elevator, the butt of the pistol digging into my lower back. I almost killed her. I have to think about it to let the idea sink in. I almost killed her. I almost killed her. I almost killed her.

Why?

 

next: Sand – Part Ten (Finale)

previous: Sand – Part Eight

more by WILL HEMLEPP

photograph by Drew Patrick

 

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