She never spoke, never made a sound, but the look in her eyes told me exactly what was about to happen.
I leaned forward. One step. Two. I breathed the words I knew she needed to hear.
I didn’t mean a word of them.
Her pink, sweet lips parted in a beckoning smile, and I moved forward, wanting the promise her eyes made me, the peace of completion and release.
I stepped forward on quivering legs and begged her pardon once more, knowing that which I apologized for could not be forgiven. The slate could never be wiped clean.
I would never be absolved. But I could be delivered.
The next step forward made her eyes go wilder. She wanted me closer. They rounded and I could hear her screaming for me in her mind, like she had before. Her lips made no move, but I always knew what she really needed.
The next step forward brought the sting of the knife, the first punch of it awkward, halting.
My love, you can do better than that.
She yanked the knife free and I missed the burn of it, the proof of life, the tangible evidence that I could still feel.
The second came with more force. Then the third, the fourth, like an energetic boxer, going for the KO.
Atta girl. She may float like a butterfly, but oh how she stings.
I knew this would happen. Her eyes had glinted a challenge, where once there was only fear.
My match. I’d met her.
Some people chose suicide by police. Others simply wished to control it all. I chose suicide by victim. There was a certain poetry in it.
My legs gave out and my knees struck the floor, but I barely registered it past the burn, the feeling. My phone slid from my jacket pocket. She kicked it away and ran, her footsteps echoing down the hall and out into a world she stole away from me.
I didn’t want it anyway. After all, for some, there is no greater torture than living with who you are.
Blood dripped free.
Completion and then,
Justine Manzano is a multi-genre writer living in Bronx, NY with her husband, son, and a cacophony of cats. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Things You Can Create, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Greenwich Village Literary Review and The Holiday Cafe. She is currently a finalist for The Gover Story Prize, and will be published in the 2017 edition of the Best New Writing Anthology.
In addition to being a contributor to the website All The Way YA, she is also one third of The Inkwell Council, a group that provides manuscript review services to new writers. She maintains a semi-monthly blog at JustineManzano.com where she discusses her adventures in juggling aspects of her life such as motherhood, writing, and the very serious businesses of fangirling and multiple forms of geekery. You can also find Justine on Twitter @justine_manzano or Facebook. Her debut novel is currently looking for a home.