Extras

Breathe

We stood there frozen in place. In perfect sync we lowered our eyes to the red liquid trickling through the spaces between his fingers. Off to the side of me, there was the loud crash of glass breaking. It broke us from our trance and we turned our heads to see Bryan standing behind the shattered coffee table. Shock crowded his innocent features. All three of us shifted our gazes to the glass covered floor beneath the table. I was sure that if I reached down to touch it, the metal would still be warm–as warm as a baking sheet holding his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

The familiar thud of a body falling to the floor ripped my gaze away from the gun. As if I wasn’t already in a daze, I had to check and make sure I was still standing. It was usually my body falling to the floor; my blood leaking from my nose, mouth, ear, whatever body part his blow reached first, onto the carpet beneath me. I looked down at his body. Beside him, laid another gun as cold as ice–the bullet inside cheated its chance to end my life.

As I turned again, toward our son, I breathed. I breathed a breath I’d been holding for 20 years of marriage and every year of my precious boy’s life. I rushed toward him and knelt down; looking him in the eyes, promising everything was okay. With a shaky voice and unfamiliar tone, he spoke for the first time since the fight began. “Mom, it’s over.” I gathered him in my arms and for the first time, we were able to breathe together.

 

-S.C.

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