Of course he is dead.

I really

really

need that cigarette.

My hands are shaking.

I have seen a lot in my 23 years. But today, the seemingly dead man attempting to swim in a pool of his blood has to take the cake.

What happened here tonight?

I would remember if I handled a gun in my hands, wouldn’t I? A gun is not something you wield and lose all recollection of, is it?

I can’t have had anything to do with this mess in the bathroom. No.

If this were a movie, I would scream and rush to check the man’s pulse – check if he is alive. Then I’d prolly hear the director yell ‘Cut!’ What would I have done wrong? Not stepping on the blood would be what. You’re not supposed to be thinking straight so rush in and mess up the damn floor with your footprints! He would yell. In my mind, film directors are always yelling. I would make sure to step on the red sauce during take two, or five, or whatever take we would be at.

Only if this were a movie.

I always wanted to be an actor, you know. Back in the day, when I had ambition and shit…

Except.

This is no movie. This is my life.

My lace panties leave my shaking hands to land noiselessly by the bathroom door.

The gun follows suit and hits the floor, louder than I expected.

It startles me.

My head is spinning.

I cover my mouth to hold back a forging scream.

My eyes open wide. I can’t get them to look away. I close them instead.

This cannot be happening.

What the hell is happening?!

My mouth is dry! My feet refuse to move! My heart is beating as if it needs to be let out urgently from its cage! My chest is on fire!

Breathe Felicia! Breathe!

Cigarette, someone! Anyone! Please!

The stranger on the bed stirs, shifts his body to face the wall and continues to snore.

Tears are rolling down my cheeks. My hands refuse to stop shaking.

Cigarette.

Sniff.

I need my purse. It must be inside the wardrobe. I open it. I find it. Rummage through it. I see the condoms. We should have used those! Why did we not use those?

Sniff.

Only one cigarette stick remains. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the crowning of one shitty night! Like, what’s one cigarette stick? Foreplay?

I light it anyway.

Sniff.

I puff on the cigarette with every breath in me. It has never felt this good.

I should turn off the lights. I obey this thought.

Puff.

Sniff.

I sit at the edge of the bed. Darkness embraces me. Smoke, puffs, sniffs and a shitload of tears comfort me. They all combine forces to calm me.

Sniff.

A live stranger in bed. A dead stranger in the bathroom…

Wait.

I switch the lights back on and rush to the bathroom. Making sure not to step on the blood, I bend and move close to the dead guy to have a good look at his face.

Familiarity.

Sniff.

I saw this face earlier tonight.

Sniff.

Kevin?

KEV?!

Sniff, sniff.

Kev is dead? But is he really?

Sniff.

I stretch my cig-free hand and touch his neck to feel for that pulse they always look for.

Stop holding your breath, you and I both know that it’s not there.

Sniff.

His body is cold. I think it would be appropriate to call it dead cold. Yea, why don’t we throw in the puns.

Sniff.

I have never stood this close to a dead body before.

Sniff.

The gunshot wound is on his chest. Right where his right nipple should be. A small hole with exposed flesh and blood. He died while grabbing the wound. Both his hands are covered in blood. His lifeless eyes are wide open. His chest is bare. His bottom is covered in boxers that were initially grey but are now decorated with red. No trousers. No vest. Nothing else. Just socks on his feet. Boxers and socks.

Puff, puff.

Death.

It now surrounds the whole room. As if it was waiting for me to discover it and release it to the rest of the room and to the universe.

Sniff.

Now it embraces me.

Comfort left a while ago.

In its place, I have the cold eerie embrace of death.

The kind of embrace that decorates your skin with goosebumps. The kind you’d want to shake off. The kind you’d like to run away from and leave as far away behind you as possible.

And my dead brain jumps to life.

I am dizzy. I am falling.

I am pulling myself up and dashing out of the bathroom.

I need to leave!

I can’t be here!

I need to get away from this mess!

Now!

I kick metal.

The godforsaken gun finds a new location next to the exit door.

Shit!

Scream!

It escapes my mouth before I can stop it.

Now the neighbourhood must be awake. If any.

Shaking hands.

Puff.

Puff.

Puff, puff, puff, puff.

Up and down pacing.

Sniff.

Unsteady feet.

Tears.

Sniff.

Heaving chest.

Scolding brain; LEAVE!

I pick my purse.

I turn the door knob.

Locked.

I turn the key in the keyhole.

My hand is on the door handle. But what is on the other side?

Breathe. Breathe.

“Where do you think you are going?”

What do you know. The fool is not snoring anymore.

I wipe my nose with the back of my hand – eeew?

The gun.

It now sits next to my feet. Saved by the kick, wouldn’t you say?

The fool is getting up from the bed.

My brain needs to come back from wherever it went. It needs not to let me down. Not now!

I throw the cigarette butt down. Sorry. I would step on it if I had any shoes on. Right now, I have bigger fish to fry.

I swiftly put down my purse and pick up the gun.

If there is a gun in the room, it’s always good to be the one holding it. Didn’t I tell you that my mother did not raise a fool? Or maybe I watch too many movies?

I should go…

He is standing.

…I should open the door and just leave…

‘Where did you get that?”

…but I want answers, and I know, so do you…

He now sits on the bed.

…Renee wanted to make me leave…

“This?” I ask him, holding up the gun.

…I know. Can you believe her?…

“Where did I get this?” I raise it.

…I told her that just because she holds the pen doesn’t mean she gets to make decisions for me…

I now hold it firmly, steadily (I know!) with both hands.

…I stay…

I point the gun at him.

…because I want answers.

Familiarity.

To be continued…

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