Lara glared at me from her side of the hot bench seat. Popped open the glove box to see a .357 in there. Carefully lifted it out and pointed it at me. Are you scared? Laughed. Without turning my head I reached over and aimed the gun away. That’s loaded.

She pointed it at the windshield and pulled the trigger. The glass exploded all over us and I careened to a stop on the shoulder of the interstate. There were little pieces of glass all over both of us and all over the seats. I could feel glass dust and chips on my tongue. Whoops, she said. I thought you were kidding. You’re always kidding.

I went to grab the gun out of her hand but couldn’t pry open her fingers. What would you do if I shot myself right now? she asked. I’ve dreamt my own death a thousand times.

How does it end? Like this?

No. Like this. She grinned and squeezed the trigger. Freezing cold emanated from where the bullet tore through my chest. Then another deafening blast and I saw her fall back.

I slumped over the wheel, focusing my willpower on getting my hand up to the ignition. When I finally touched the metal of the key it took everything I had to twist it. Now blood was tickling down my ankle into my shoe. I hit the gas and we spun out, traffic screeching every which way. I swung the wheel back and sent us down into a ravine.

Two weeks later I woke up in a bed soaked in blood. Instantly fell in love with my nurse: ebony skin, kind smile. She spooned water into my mouth until I fell back into a deep sleep. I floated for a long time in a purple, swirling abyss as one thought after another appeared and then sunk away. Scrambled eggs with fresh ground pepper. Lara, cool smile, hair in her eyes. Spiders. Toby, counting bullets. My military fatigues on a hanger.

I rolled over and lost consciousness on sheets that felt like cardboard. My nurse was gone and the cold wind launched me back into darkness.



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