Just a heads up, this short story contains violence (and snot – people seemed to be upset about the bodily fluids). so if you’re not sure it’s your thing, you can always go read Why I’m Still Single instead. There’s nothing disturbing there, except my own social awkwardness.
Enough of that, now on to A World of Hurt…
“Oh…no… you didn’t…oh…” Her tone like she’d just walked in on a toddler spreading peanut butter on the walls.
Except what I’d just done was shoot her husband. She sat, stunned, looking at me and I waited for it – the wave of rage that would come after the shock. Her fury at what I’d done, what I’d taken from her; her dawning realization she’d be next. I stuck that gun right in her face and watched for it… and her shocked face softened… tenderness. I rubbed the sweat away from my eyes and looked again. She shook her head and said, “Oh baby, you’ve just unleashed a world of hurt.”
“Are you threatening me bitch? ‘Cause you’re about to die!” She started crying then, still looking at me, like I was a companion in her grief, not the cause of it. Fuck. So I shot her. I didn’t mean to… well I did and I didn’t. She fucked me up, looking at me like that. I felt like I’d just been split in two. Part of me wanted to just shut that face up, blow apart that look in her eyes. But part of me was held by it. No one had ever looked at me like that.
So my body made the decision my brain couldn’t. Reflex took over. I don’t even remember hearing the gun go off. Just her eyes… and her hair whipping around her face as she fell backwards.
That’s when the retching started. I puked. I didn’t just puke – I was doubled over, dropped to my knees heaving myself inside out. Then the grief – her grief, and the rage and the horror I had expected her to feel. It came screaming out of me with each new wave. Not just her grief, but the panic and anger her husband had felt in the moments before I shot him – powerless, unable to help himself or his wife.
Every horrific feeling I’d ever put on anybody’s face, wave after wave of it hit me. Blurred together in wracking sobs and vomit. I felt EVERYTHING, I finally felt everything. Not just what I’d done, but every one of my own hurts, rages, violations, betrayals. A world of hurt I though I had long since mastered, shoved away for good. Wave after wave it came crashing though me. I thought I was going to die from it. Unrelenting, washing away everything else, nothing but pain. Howling pain.
I felt it all. And then it was gone… all of it. Empty and drained. Too weak to even roll out of my own vomit, face pressed to the ground, I knelt there in the blood and the puke and sweat and the snot. My chest burned, rasping and coughing. And the emptiness was even more shocking than the pain. There was nothing, just NOTHING…
Breath shuddering into my belly, I managed to roll onto my back, my legs screaming as they finally straightened out. Totally spent, totally empty, my back on cold pavement. The stars… there were stars. I can’t remember the last time I’d noticed them. Little points of light in all that darkness. The darkness, and the stars… I felt tears sliding into my sweat-soaked hair. I was crying… I was crying because those stupid stars, those stupid little stars, were beautiful.
And then another great flood, that emptiness filled. I was so grateful for those stars, for just being stars, thought my chest would burst for the beauty of it. And peace. I felt peace. I thought peace was just some empty fruitcake word, but there it was. Just peace, and love for those little stars. All that rage and pain were gone, I lay there feeling quiet and full.
She’d looked into my eyes, and it set me free. She looked into my eyes, and I shot her.