Author’s Note: So… warning you in advance. What you are about to read is extremely
depressing. Enjoy anyway 🙂
by Ashley Nelson
I shivered and wrapped my arms around my cold body. What was I doing here anyway? The
sky was dark, hiding the true time. I didn’t know if it was late Sunday evening, or early Monday
morning. I could smell the thick gasoline that prowled in the brisk September air. I could feel
the heavy lights gazing upon me, like giant spotlights, waiting for my next move.
I could hear the growling of engines as cars passed right through me, and the buzzing of the
bright gas station spotlights above my head. Then I saw it. The familiar van sped across the
parking lot, stopping at the payphone. I could smell the alcohol that laced his breath from where
I stood. I could smell the thick smoke as it rolled out the open window. I could see the man
talking on the phone. I could hear his strangled cries as he shrieked to the woman on the other
end. The poor single mother with her broken children at home.
I could hear his broken sobs and his angry screams as he clutched the phone in his hand tightly,
as if it were the only thing keeping him alive. He hung up the phone and let out a frustrated cry
as the lights began to flicker. He threw his bottle across the lot where it rolled and rested at my
I could see his shoulders shaking as he slammed his fists onto the dashboard in desperation
and anguish. I could see the other people walking past him, without a care in the world. Why
weren’t they helping him? Could they not hear his strangled screams? Could they not hear his
“Are you all deaf?! Do you not hear him screaming?” Not even a glace was sent my way, or
his. I tried running to the man in the van, but I wasn’t going anywhere. It was like I was running
on a treadmill, and the man was still so far away.
The man’s screams were getting louder as the lights began fading and flickering more and more,
growing dimmer each time. He raised another bottle to his lips, throwing it out like the last
one. I watched as the glass shattered against the pavement, the shards piercing the skin on my
wrists. I stood there, helpless and mute as the man raised another object in the air. The bright
lights circled around the barrel and made it glow like a spooky Halloween moon. I begged and
pleaded, screaming to get anyone’s attention… even his.
“What about your kids? Your daughter, just about to graduate and move on with her life… Your
son facing his final few years in high school, needing his father more than ever… Your little
boy only seven years old, not even old enough to understand how much this will affect him
someday… And what about your Bugger Bear? Daddy’s Little Princess isn’t so little anymore.
She may not say it everyday, but she loves you, and would give anything in the world just to
be as close to you as before. What about everything you’ll miss? Wedding days, graduations…
What about your grandkids? Don’t you ever want to look them in the eyes, take them fishing
and tell them embarrassing stories about their mama? Or are you willing to give that all up?”
I screamed at him to stop. I screamed. I screamed. I screamed so hard, it felt like a thousand
needles were piercing my throat, but I kept screaming. I felt my shoulders shake in soundless
sobs and the warm rain that dribbled down my face I saw him take a breath and I shut my eyes
tightly, knowing what came next. I heard the loud blast that made everyone in the lot jump in
panic. Then the thump of the man’s head hitting the steering wheel.
And the lights went out.