While the rest of the city sat along their ruby, satin couches with red wine swirling in their glasses, he lay perfectly flat on his bed with a carton of cigarettes next to his head. The lighter only sparked, but never drew a flame to burn the bullet that was buried in his throat. When he tried to drown it with a cold beer, the bullet simply froze in its place. His shoulder still felt stiff from the recoil that echoed up into the trees and bounced between the grey mountains. Even when he listened to music, he could hear it in the drums.
Every time he caught his reflection, his eyes immediately drew to his hands. They were the real reason this whole thing happened. He saw them covered in the dust that surrounded the campgrounds. If only his finger never buckled against that trigger, there would have been no cloud of ash that erupted upwards. It was like a halo, mocking his once clean reputation.
If he could manage to find a way to take that bullet out of the man he struck, he would. It didn’t matter that instead he would be the target; the man dressed in red with a hole in his neck. From the minute the gun fired, he made a promise to himself to never shoot another living soul. All he ever thought about was watching the man swing back, his arms going limp.
He conquered the enemy. Yet, he felt foolish. Another man had to suffer, die even, just for him to prove his side was superior. It didn’t make sense. Maybe if he had just walked up to the man, shook his hand, and introduced himself, they would have been able to figure something out. There would have been a way to get to what was tugging at the chain that dragged the anchor between the two. There had to be a way to lift the anchor back up, and continue sailing. Sailing doesn’t need a gun. It needs a steady foundation, and wind to guide it over the waves that bounce underneath.
Jenna Thomas is a first-year student majoring in English with a minor in creative writing. JT923387@wcupa.edu.