A Short Excerpt. She glanced down on her finger. On it was an emerald, the light of the sunset refracting

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1 A Short Excerpt She glanced down on her finger. On it was an emerald, the light of the sunset refracting within the complex round cut and making it shine brilliantly--a sort of beacon in the sea of mundaneness that came with every painful day. It was the one gift she d accepted from her husband, despite his efforts. Her mind was a mess, as usual, driving her to go down to the kitchen and pour herself some wine or something else she drank too much--mimosas, perhaps? She always took too many, she knew, but if it helped her forget, it was worth the cost. It was worth all the fights, all the sadness, and all the damage to her body. At this stage though, she didn't care. It wasn t something she did much of anymore. She walked out onto her patio, smiling as the warm reds, oranges, and yellows filled up her field of view, and for a brief moment, she was content. For a brief moment, life was at a standstill and she could forget about everything. She was wearing her favorite thing-- a short black nightgown, which was medium length on her small frame. Satiny, dark, and luxurious, she felt a queen. A baddie, as her niece christened her. Her feet were bare, and she let them on the smooth stone of the grey pathway, weaving in and out of her garden, the shades of pink, blue, and purple from the flowers filling the view. She could forget here, if that was possible. The vermilion sky seemed to envelop everything it touched, casting her brown skin in the most gorgeous lighting. Her dark brown hair was a peculiar color, as if gold was mixed in with blood. The scar on her face, something she d grown to admire, had its redder undertones brought out and looked almost fresh. Her leg was still limping--nothing could fix that--after all, it d been 16 years since it was shot. Wasn t like she was gonna use it much

2 anymore. She was going to end it sooner or later, despite all these mental health days. She couldn t be saved anymore. Far too long, her mistakes had messed everything up, taking everyone s lives and coagulated them into a mess of her own creation, forcing all these people who shouldn t have known each other thrown into the same pot. Her exes, her stepson, her family, her current husband, her affairs, her past...her everything. A mental health day was meant to help her forget about stress and relax for once, but no way that was going to happen anytime soon. A shake of the head was enough to get rid of these thoughts until the next quiet moment, when she d hopefully be drunk enough to no longer have to worry about them anymore. She snapped back to the current moment and only then noticed the black of the satin catching the rays of the sun again, reflecting them and looking almost crystalline, something she cocked her head to fully appreciate. The night sky on my lap. How poetic. She scoffed at this, never having been one for romance or sentimentality. Her emotions weren t soft ones, instead being the type to have more---let s find the nicest way to phrase this-- extreme emotions. Time to snap back to reality again. The sky seemed almost peach-like to her now, a small reminder of the material comforts she was more than ready to leave behind. Her feet still felt the smoothness of the stone underneath, an

3 unwanted reminder that yes, she was here, and yes, it was life that she was experiencing. A bit too into reality now, are we? The vermilion skies would soon be a thing of the past, nothing she d really miss. She walked back inside, breathing a heavy sigh of relief once realizing her husband wasn t home. Samuel hated it when she was like this. She d feel the same. Still gripping her Mimosa, filled a bit too high, she walked back up to her office and opened up the drawer only she had the key to. She pulled out her old six-chambered confidante, a reminder from the old days. The old days of camaraderie in the jungle, where there was nothing to do but work and change. So many years ago, but it still felt like yesterday when she was leading them-- in her military fatigues, with her favorite rifle in one hand and some pamphlets in the other. Her scars were fresh then, but it s not like she had the time to care back then. Her scars still had the natural reddish tint she loved, simply for the aesthetics. Those days were long gone. The coup was a simple historical note now. She d got the power and influence she always wanted, but if she couldn t help her people enough, then there was no point. There was a bullet laying in the drawer as well, the metal reflecting the last few rays of the daylight, looking almost beautiful in this lighting. She loaded it into the revolver, playing Russian Roulette for what could ve been the final time. With no hesitation in her arm or her thoughts, she raised the gun to her head, as she had done so many times before and fired Nothing.

4 Well, that s that for today. She said this with a breaking voice, taking the bullet out and shoving both it and the firearm back into the drawer, locking it up and hiding the key, a routine she wished wasn t as common as it was. Tears flowed out now, tracing the contours of her face, the aging she only now noticed. Wasn t something she minded--if anything, it made her look refined. The tears kept on falling, her hands unable to lift up and wipe them away, instead gripping the edge of the desk as hard as they could. The confidence of previous movements was gone, her hands shaking now in tension. From the corner of her senses, she heard the car pull up and the door fly wide open, steps coming closer up the stairs. Back from his trip already? Makes sense. Lost track of time again, haven t you? Amara? You up here? With a swift movements, most of the tears were gone, wiped from existence as if they were never there at all. Yes. Yes I am. He walked in, tired and jet lagged, but happy to see her, with his usual wide smile on his face. He got a good look at her, the smile fading into a concerned look, moving towards her and wiping any other tears left in her eyes. You ve...not been alright, have you? Take a wild guess, Sammy. She said this with her usual scoff, rolling her eyes quickly. Please tell me about it? Don t worry about me. I m fine.

5 Amara please. We all know you re not. The entire world does. She grabbed his wrists, moving them down and away from her and walked to the door, looking back as if it was a goodbye. She walked downstairs, the surgical white she loved, enveloping her like snow, something she thought he blended a bit too well into. The lights almost blinded her, but she was going to enjoy her last few days and couldn t bring herself to care. If she didn t kill herself yet, it was probably going to happen in the next week or so-- after all, a 7% unemployment rate was her fault, was it not? Only she was awful enough to miss full employment by one percent. Only she was awful enough to hurt people who didn t deserve it, something she knew she had a lifetime of experience in. A pounding, pulsating feeling swarmed through her cranium, stopping her on the stairs as she grabbed onto the railing and sat down on the step, burying her head into her hands, the cascades of dark brown and grey looking like a mop stuck on the head of a mannequin. Hungover again, aren t you? How miserable. Only up for an hour or so too! Napping all day! What a failure, aren t you? It could ve been a second. It could ve been a minute. Regardless of the time elapsed, the next thing she felt was a warm arm envelop her, moving her a bit closer to the source of the heat, her head resting gently onto the slow rise and fall of his chest with every calm breath. Her hair was gently brushed out of the way of her face, but her eyes were still hidden behind her palms. Sighs of a defeated woman came out of her mouth, while one came from his mouth as well. The arm

6 moved her closer--while her emotions were a swirling mess as always, making it hard for her to focus--while his felt intimate around her--no one else could hold her that close. Stupid of him to bother with you, isn t it? All you do is cry. All you do is hurt. All you re good for, anyway. Now don t go around breaking his heart too. Her hands came off, her lips parted, and she looked up at his face, with the soft green eyes looking away from her. They seemed to have something welling up, and he seemed too lost in his thoughts to notice anything. Sammy. I m fine. He looked down, wiping his eyes, and did nothing but stroke her hair, moving it gently away from her face, smiling down at her. You re not. Just stay with me though, please? With me. Weird word choice to use with someone like her. Someone whose mind was creeping away to her old friend in the drawer, almost thirsting after the bullet to finally take her. Just say something to make him happy, now will you? Don t need anyone finding out about your little plan, you pathetic little woman.. I m too tired to move anyway. And besides, you re warm. He chuckled at this, suddenly picking her up and walking to the bedroom, all while she giggled from the surprise of it all. He flopped her rather childishly on the bed, all while she kept on

7 giggling like a schoolgirl, resting her head on the pillow from the pounding headache. Nothing wrong with sleeping a lot, Amara. If only I could never wake up What was that? Nothing. Sure. She didn t know what happened after that. She fell asleep, maybe? Made sense, as apart from a few naps, she hadn t slept a wink the night before. Regardless, a few days later she was back at work, in her favorite red dress and her usual well-manicured look, the same emerald ring resting on her finger. The gold of the metal and the gem reflected the midday sun, brighter than what she usually liked, and it reminded her of the last time she saw these things. All the memories and emotions of that time flooded through her again, and suddenly, in her other office, the choking tears, the self-hatred, the everything came back. She self-medicated as she knew how, grabbing the bottle of whatever her poison of the day was and poured herself a glass. The contents were gone fast, but by this stage, she d done this so often that it took much more than that to help her feel anything. She kept a different gun here-- a rifle she kept up on the wall, a testament to a past that shouldn t be a prediction of the future. Grabbing it should ve been easy, but she was only 5 2, and her heels were on the other side of the room. A scoff came out of her, as she shook her head and sat back down in her chair, pouring herself another glass. Another day then?

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