Who gets the last bullet?

They both stared breathlessly at the revolver lying on the table between them. Both waiting on who would make the first move and stay true to their agreement. They both held six bullets in their hands, one for each chamber.

She thought back to the first time, when she was left alone trying to pick up the pieces of the new reality that was forced upon her. There was nothing that could be said or done; there was only silence and pain. A pain so incredible that penetrated her skin violently and echoed to every limb. She had looked for an explanation somewhere between the ashes of five minutes ago, and they came out empty. Burning her fingers and stinging her nose with their stench, having nothing better to offer her.

She placed the first bullet into one of the lonely chambers.

He thought about the day she was in another’s arms. Smiling and laughing as if all the time in the world had passed and erased what that had happened. In another’s arms she laughed and listened to the songs that were once theirs without turning her eyes to him. This wasn’t the her that was his. She would never do such a thing, she shares her body and her features but she is nothing like her. How dare this stranger replace her?

As soon as he went to take the gun, she grabbed it and loaded the second bullet. He said nothing and leaned back again.

They were in the car together, already surrounded by the lies they told in order to get there in the first place. She cried to him to end it right then and there and not take it a step further. He cried three words. That was the first time they came out of his mouth and not on small pieces of paper or thoughts inside his head. He said it and she couldn’t leave, guiding her into waters, the depths of which had not been calculated.

She heard his voice echoing into her head, saying these words she had once prayed to hear, and placed the third bullet into a chamber.

They both recalled all the nights their thoughts spent wandering into the void. A hollow memory box trying to be filled with empty air as they held each other’s hand. They had unleashed a time bomb and, sooner or later, it would explode right in front of them. He wasn’t able to understand her outbursts –she wasn’t able to let them go. His anger began to over-fill him; the reminder of her weakness brought back the realization of how pathetic she was.

They both reached out for the gun, she took it again. She loaded two bullets this time without letting him lay a hand on it. She watched the fury ignite in his eyes but they continued.

The winner would be the one who could claim the last bullet –that person was allowed to fire and end this once and for all. This was the only thing they could agree on, one of them had to go and the other one would have to carry the hatred of what once was. In this darkened room only one person could leave knowing the entire truth –that was the agreement.

It was a journey into a fantasy from the start; a post-apocalyptic fantasy, where the earth lies in ruins and the two people walking on it felt special for their existence, in complete ignorance of the innocent lives that were shattered because of them. They were, if only for a mere moment, then the truth of their action crept up behind them and forced them to take a hard look at the devastation that was caused in order for them to be saved. He said that he could handle the consequences. She bent and broke almost instantly and he didn’t notice.

Just this once he wanted her to be strong and to fight against everything that told her that there was no reason to. She had to come out of this alive; with him. She had to.

How they reached this point they both knew, but neither of them made the move. Not a single word was spoken between them; all they had left now was the gun. By the end there were so many words devouring their senses that they had lost all meaning, so they decided to, just this once, to keep their mouths shut.

A final act of desperation caused her to load the last bullet. He slapped his hand on the table for her audacity to put the blame on him when all he wanted was to return. Leaving him with all six bullets rolling soullessly into his palm.

She loaded her last bullet and loaded the gun. She looked at him and smiled, she wouldn’t allow him to get his hands dirty again.

Before anything could break the silence she pointed the gun to herself and pulled the trigger.

Author: S. L. Robb

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