Sand – Part Six

stories about ptsd soldiers

Short Story

 

I think I heard something pop, but I can’t be sure. Like, somewhere in the back of my mind, I could hear a squishy membrane just split from sheer pressure. It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming. I was expecting it, probably more than Maddy was. It didn’t stop me from getting mad, though.

“Okay.” I said. It wasn’t an answer. I just wanted to say something to make sure my body was still there. “Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay.” It was all that came out of my mouth. Even though I tried to form some kind of thought, the only thing that stuck was “Okay, okay, okay.”

On its own, the arm holding my bottle shot up into the air and spiked it into the ground. It pretty much turned back into sand as it hit the pavement. Half my face got covered in beer and tiny bits of glass stuck in my hair. The tables next to us went silent. I went anything but.

“Okay. Okay, Maddy. Okay. That’s- Okay. That’s fucking fine, Maddy! That’s fucking great, Maddy! What the fuck do you think I’m going to do now?! What the fuck do you think, Maddy?! Where the fuck am I supposed to go?!”

With my right hand, I punched the untouched sandwich, splitting the plate under it. My fingers wrapped under the rim of the table. If I’d have wanted to, I could have curled it into a ball and thrown it into traffic. Maddy had pushed her chair back and had one hand on the guardrail, like she was about to vault onto the sidewalk. She kept her face still, but her eyes were so wide I could have thrown a football through them.

I sat back in my chair. I held my hands out in front of me, like I was about to grab something, and just let them shake themselves out. Every book and help site will tell you that taking a minute to breathe will calm your nerves, but that silence always does the worst to me.

When a waiter, different from the one we had before, came to the table, it was only by the grace of almighty God I didn’t beat his mustache off his face. He swept up the remnants of bottle quietly before looking up at us. He turned to me first, then made the right decision to talk to Maddy instead.

“Is- um, is everything-” he started. Maddy held up a hand to cut him off.

“It’s alright. It- It’s been a- Well, it’s been a day. Everything’s fine.”

The waiter glanced at me like someone had left a cage open at the zoo. I felt exactly the same.

“Sure. I’ll- I’ll bring you another beer,” he said, before scurrying away.

“Jesus Christ,” Maddy said, running a hand through her hair. “Max… I didn’t know that you…”

She trailed off, sighing. Picking up the other half of her sandwich, she took a little bite, just for something to do. I picked up one of the pieces of smashed plate and slit her throat from ear to ear. Blood poured down the front of her shirt and spilled onto the plate. Her half-chewed sandwich fell from her neck as her head lolled back in her chair.

“I don’t know. Maybe firing isn’t the best option,” Maddy said.

Her head still sat on top of her shoulders. Her neck was still intact. The pieces of plate still sat in front of me and not a drop of blood had been spilled. Suddenly, I wasn’t angry anymore. Well, I kind of was, but not as intense. I’d had thoughts like that before, like daydreams that you forget never happened.

Just… never about Maddy.

 

next: Sand – Part Seven

previous: Sand – Part Five

more by WILL HEMLEPP

photograph by Rafal Buch

 

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