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Thursday, June 08, 2006

You've Stayed Too Long

I decided to combine two older writing prompts (from 3/11/06 & 4/13/06) into this one story. The two prompts were 'You've stayed too long' and 'I've changed my mind.'

I sensed it coming before the gunman contemplated pulling the trigger. I think I even expected it to happen. My hearing heightened in the split second the safety clicked off and the trigger was pulled. I could hear the bullet travel through the barrel with an explosive sound that rang in my ears. It was an out of body experience, as if I was hovering above, watching a man I did not know get shot. But I was actually that man and I could definitely feel the pain.

I watched the bullet travel toward my chest at break-neck speed. But in my world, from my perspective, it was traveling as slow as ducks on a pond during a lazy summer afternoon. I watched it spiral toward me with no way of moving out of the way or nothing to stop its journey. I could feel my body anticipating… tensing… just waiting for the impact. What felt like an hour, but was actually faster than the blink of an eye, the bullet hit me with such force I was thrown back several feet.

I heard the second shot while the first hit my chest, burning a hole through the top layers of my skin before puncturing through my left pectoral muscle. I felt every layer tear, searing the edges of the entry wound. The bullet made a suction sound much like a spoon piercing into a perfect mold of Jell-O, leaving behind a hole that could never be fully repaired.

I felt the pain surge through my entire body. My right hand automatically reached for my chest in an attempt to shield my wound from more trauma as my body crashed to the asphalt.

As quickly as the bullet entered my body, it stopped even quicker, like a semi-truck colliding with a brick wall. I could feel it wedge into my breastbone, coming so close to my most vital organ it was as if with every pump of my heart I could feel the heated tip of the bullet.

As I lay on the black asphalt, watching myself struggle to stay conscious, but also hoping to be relieved of the amazing pain, I heard a woman scream. My mind was racing, thinking that I needed her to call for help even though at this point I just wanted to die.

I saw the woman running toward me in a panic, cell phone in hand talking to a 9-1-1 dispatcher. She was describing the scene before her and the condition in which I lay, the blood from my chest wound staining the ground the deep red of a pomegranate around me. That was the last thing that I remembered until arriving at the hospital.

I found myself in a long white sterile room sitting amongst strangers. There were hundreds of people, yet no one seemed to give me any notice. They all sat, staring ahead at the blank walls. As I averted my eyes from everyone else, I realized what they were watching.

I sat quietly in my seat watching as images were projected on the white walls in front of me. I felt I was watching an old home movie, flickering with no sound and nothing to smile or laugh about. There I lay on a cold steel gurney while doctors worked feverishly around me.

A calming sense fell over me as I sat and watched the projection on all four walls. I thought of the great life I had lead. Though not long, I had accomplished most of what I wanted and was proud of the forty-five years I had lived. I felt ready to exit the life that I knew and move on to my next endeavor, wherever that may lead.

The picture began to scramble and fade as doctors started to silently scream across the table at one another. I continued to watch as they suddenly stopped, staring at the machinery that was supposed to keep me alive.

I could feel myself fading with the movie before me. I had wished for death only moments ago, but a deep sense of sadness came upon me as I looked down at my lifeless body and realized that I would never hold my family in my arms again, dance to my favorite song or even eat my favorite ice cream one last time.

As I continued to fade, I couldn’t take my eyes from the man I once was, laying on the cold metal gurney with the white sheet placed over me. I heard a voice calling my name from afar. I tried to hold on, to not fade away in hopes that the owner of the voice could help me. It suddenly hit me. That was my life, no more…no less. I began to panic. I needed to be back on earth, I needed to live the rest of my life as I had planned.

“I’ve changed my mind,” I yelled. “I don’t want to die anymore! I want to live! Turn back the clock; change my fortune, whatever you have to do! I don’t care. I’ll do anything you ask.”

“But you don’t understand,” answered the voice with a pause. “You’ve stayed too long.”

Comments on "You've Stayed Too Long"


Blogger Diana said ... (7:39 AM) : 

Wow. That ending just grabbed me.

What a great example of using these prompts, combining them like this. Thanks so much for posting it!

(It also reminded me of the book I just finished, The Things They Carried, a book about the Vietnam War. The author, Tim O'Brien, went into great detail about what it felt like to get shot. Yours was similar, although he didn't have that great jello-sound! He did mention the blood a lot, about how warm it was as it was gushing out of him. THat might be a good addition to this, the blood aspect.)


Blogger Tami said ... (10:40 AM) : 

Thanks for the great comments Diana! I had a great time with this one. Those two prompts just seemed to pop into my head and a great combination.

I actually didn't think of the blood aspect too much. I might just see if I can work it in! Thanks for the idea.


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