by Amber Box
Death. On the side of the road. It’s always how I imagined it to be though, dramatic and alone. No one stopping to call an ambulance, no one stopping to close my eyes. Just me in a chair and the rush of cars barreling down the highway to somewhere more important than here. I was invisible.
It snowed today. For the first time in God knows how long. Texas was too hot for snow. Texas was too hot for anything. It had already begun to melt when I stopped at Hank’s to pick up a lawnchair. One of those with the plastic weave, like a basket. Green and blue and white and hideous. Perfect for just such an occasion. I didn’t figure he’d miss it much.
The sun had finally cleared the mass of grey skies when I pulled into the parking lot. This was the place. I knew it every time I drove by it on my way home from the monotony of box stores and fast food. It was sad and dingy. Oil-stained cement tucked between two sad strips of trees. I was certain they were transplants. Palm trees weren’t native to the Hill Country.
That’s what they called it here, ya know. Hill Country. As though the small rise and fall of the highway was something of a natural treasure. The melted snow pooled in spots across the lot, creating a muddled rainbow. It felt ironic, but I wasn’t sure because I dropped out of school before I learned that word. Sad. I knew that one. Angry. I knew that one.
The gun was lighter than I had imagined it to be. Airy in my hands, as though it carried no weight around with it. At least not until it was loaded. I looked at it, felt it, watched it glint under the rays of sunlight. I held it out, pointed it. At the trees. At the passing cars. At my head. Still no one flinched. No one stopped. It was a busy Saturday. I’m sure they had other things to worry about than me and my shiny weightless gun. Movies. Shopping. Things rich people do.
I pulled the bullets out of the shopping bag. Yeah, that’s how they came…in a small box in one of those white plastic shopping bags. No doubt that bag will be swirling the ground with the wind when I am gone. Single use trash that lasts a lifetime. Maybe that’s the irony. Single use trash. Single use bullets. Single use that lasts a lifetime. Loading them into the gun makes me feel at ease. Calm.
The ugly patio chair stuck out of my trunk like a sore thumb. It’s ridiculous how obnoxious it was. I didn’t even want to sit in it. I dragged it across the wet cement, leaving dark streaks in a path from my old car to my new life. Away from here. The sun beat down on me like a spotlight. Little remains of the morning snowfall. I told you it’s too hot here for that.
I unfolded the chair and set it upright in the middle of the parking lot, in plain sight. Sitting, I felt the plastic weaving give against my weight, the weight I carried. The weight that the gun didn’t feel. The weight matched only by the bullets. The shot rang through the air, rustling the trees like grackles taking flight from an interior branch. I watched the cars in slow motion, enter the highway, exit the highway. No one stopped. My chest ached. I watched my white t-shirt slowly fade to red where my heart would have been. I waited. For someone to stop. For someone to see.