Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled The Inevitable. Please enjoy.
The man found himself on a couch. It was late at night, much later than you’d expect a therapist’s office to be open.
She had lost track of time. As a favor, she agreed to speak with a patient with a poor and potentially dangerous mental health history. This was a mistake.
The therapist had spent much of the night going over the patient’s mental health records. Her receptionist along with the rest of the staff were long gone. Even the cleaning crew had finished their duties and had returned home. The woman stayed put as she perused document after document.
She was the only one in the office building when the man arrived. In spite her best judgment, she decided to see him, to speak with him, to find out what was on his mind and what brought him there unannounced so late at night. Dread emerged but fascination triumphed. Something about the man entranced her. Besides, it was not as if she was going home anytime soon.
There was only one thing on his mind. A simple question. What can you do if you know something is inevitable, that bad things are going to happen to really good people, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it?
The therapist wanted to explain it to him. She wanted to utilize all her years of education, training and life experiences to further delve into the matter. The woman believed she had the words to alleviate his concerns. She wanted to tell him that the perceived inevitable might not be so inevitable after all.
She never had the chance. As she was about to speak, her office door was thrust open with a thunderous bang. The therapist leapt from her seat. The man rose to a sitting position. Before her mind could comprehend what was happening, the gunman aimed and fired two shots. One bullet plunged into her brain. The other went through her heart. She died almost instantly.
The gunman stared at the man. He pointed his gun at him and their eyes met. The man shook his head.
Tears formed in the gunman’s eyes as he turned the weapon towards himself. He looked at the man once again. The man shook his head once more.
The gunman lowered his weapon. He turned silently and ran out the door.
The man rose to his feet. He grabbed the woman’s hand and walked away.
The man found himself walking along a bridge. It was early in the morning. The sun had yet to rise. There he met another man. This man clutched a railing as he leaned over the side. He clearly wished to jump.
The man asked him what he was doing there even though he already knew. He tried to reason with him. Life was short enough as it was. Why end it early?
The jumper explained that his wife had just been murdered. He had just gotten back from the coroner’s office to identify the body. She was working late alone in her office. A gunman had entered unannounced and shot her. He was still at large. They believed him to be a deranged mental patient.
He then added that it didn’t matter what the man told him. He was going to jump. It was inevitable.
Nonsense, such a thing is not inevitable, the man said. The man begged him to reconsider. As long as you are alive, there is hope, he pleaded.
The jumper disagreed. He explained that his wife was his hope.
In one swift motion, the jumper threw himself onto the rocks and rapids below. It wasn’t a long fall, relatively speaking, but it did the job. It helped that the jumper landed face first.
The jumper’s neck was completely shattered. The rest of him was broken and bruised. After a few short breaths, the jumper was gone.
The man sighed. He walked over to where the jumper’s body had washed ashore. He grabbed the jumper’s hand and walked away.
The man found himself sitting at a kitchen table with an elderly lady at sunrise. She placed a cup of tea in front of the man.
“Most things aren’t truly inevitable,” the woman said as she shakily poured a cup of tea for herself, “Old age, for example. It’s not something everyone will get to experience. The sands of an hour glass often run out long before they should.”
“There are some things that are beyond an individual’s capacity to prevent,” the man countered. “Those things can be called inevitable.”
“True, but you shouldn’t worry about things you have little control over.”
“There’s something I must tell you. There has been a-”
The man was interrupted by the ringing of a telephone hanging on her wall, a relic in this modern age.
“I’m sorry, dearie, I must answer this call.”
“No, wait, I have-”
“It’s okay. I’m sure you can tell me later.” She answered the phone sweetly. “Hello?” The man could only watch in horror as he knew what was about to unfold. The woman turned from a healthy peach color to a sickly white as she listened to the police officer on the other end of the line “Oh my God, no! No, this can’t be! You must be joking!” The woman dropped the phone from her hand. The receiver dangled from the cord.
“What happened?” the man asked already knowing the answer.
“My daughter, she’s,” the woman began to sob, “And her husband too, they both are-” She could not even complete the sentence.
The elderly woman began to feel a series of heart palpitations, followed by a shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and pains in the area between the left shoulder blades and arm as well as the upper abdomen. Her skin went clammy as she went into a cold sweat. The elderly woman attempted to gasp for help as she plummeted to the floor.
The man wanted to help her. He wanted to perform chest compressions, call an ambulance, help her in some way, any way he could. There was literally nothing he could do.
He was forced to sit there and stare as the woman breathed her last. After the inevitable occurred, the man rose from his seat. He grabbed the woman’s hand and walked away.
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