A Short Story About Finding Peace

Wallowing in self pity and staring at a cesspool of anger, frustration and disgust, she sits wondering how she got here. The light on the wall has been flickering for hours but the bulb is brand new. She yells angrily at it as if it can hear her. Her screams are cries for help and an attempt to undo the many past mistakes she’s made throughout her short life – the ones that brought ‘them’. “When is enough, enough?” she cries. “When will this pain go away? When will I be done re-paying all my sins?”

Her life is not one of wants or desires for she has most everything she needs. She has a home, a family, a nice vehicle, an income and the pets to compliment it all perfectly. Shes a pretty woman – not beautiful, but pretty – possessing long, brown hair with just a touch of curl and dark brown, sultry eyes that seem to see right through to the soul of a person. Her skin is olive toned, but fair, and while her body isn’t that of a young woman any longer, she still has enough shape to make her mildly attractive to the opposite sex. She should be content in her life and with herself, but feels the nagging awareness of something not right. This night of angst has been coming on for some time now, and as hard as she has tried to fight it, the night envelopes her like a veil of darkness.

The light is still flickering as she curls herself into a fetal position in the middle of the hardwood bedroom floor. Tears of urgency fall from her eyes as she rocks back and forth screaming “PLEASE STOP YELLING!! PLEASE LET ME BE!! MAKE THE VOICES STOP!” She had tried seeing a doctor about them, but he only suggested medication. She is against medication unless absolutely necessary for survival. He urged counseling but she can’t understand how trying to explain what’s going on to someone else when she had no idea herself could possibly help. She resorts to begging God for forgiveness and mercy. She asks Him to please grant her peace. She begs the voices in her head to stop tormenting her and let her mind rest. If only I could stop the voices, perhaps I could make sense of the emotions, she thinks.

She crawls on heavy arms and legs to the small nightstand by the bed. Tucked deep inside its drawer is a small handgun and a bible. Reaching in carefully, she pulls out the handgun and cradles it within her hands. The flickering light dances across the smooth metal sending tiny beams of light to reflect off the walls. She stares at the handgun until her breathing settles back into a normal rhythm. Taking one hand only, she reaches back into the nightstand and slowly pulls out the bible. She methodically lays it down and opens it effortlessly to Psalm 18:2. “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” she says quietly at first. “STOP!” she begs the voices. “I cant do what you ask!! The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower!” She’s yelling now but the voices in her mind are still louder than her own.

Cradling the gun in her hand, she slowly and carefully checks the cylinder for rounds. One shot, she thinks to herself. She removes the cylinder lock and retracts the hammer. “I CANT DO THIS!” she yells. “PLEASE DONT MAKE ME DO THIS!!” she begs as she lifts the barrel to her head. “My children need me!!” The voices get louder and louder egging her on – urging her to pull the trigger. “NO!!” she screams. The light seems to be flickering wildly now and shes sweating so badly shes afraid she’ll drop the gun. She grabs the bible and clutches it to her chest with her free hand while the other unsteadily holds the barrel of the gun against her skull. “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want….” The room is silent. The tiny beams of light no longer dance on the wall for the bulb has burned out.

The room is eerily quiet as she begins to awaken – the kind of quiet that makes a persons ears ring. Her eyes slowly open and she is unaware of her surroundings. She feels a cool breeze wafting over her body. She’s cold and soaking wet from sweat. The room is dark, but there is enough moonlight shining through the window that when her eyes finally regain focus, she can see shes in her bedroom. Quickly she sits up and panic rises in her throat. “Oh my goodness, what have I done?” she thinks out loud. The moonlit room is sparkling with small pieces of what appear to be crystals all over the floor by the window. She notices she’s clutching a bible so tightly that her knuckles have turned white. Knowing what was partnered with the bible, she drops it and frantically grabs for her face, head and neck. “Did I do it?? Am I dead?” she cries hysterically. She finds nothing extraordinary and shakes her head in disbelief. “This isn’t happening.” she said. She remembers hearing stories about people that attempt suicide, but for one reason or another, the attempt fails. She recalls details about the stories where the person who attempted it feels their soul release from the body and how these newly released souls could turn to look at their bodies below. She really isn’t sure shes ready to know, but she slowly gets to her feet and turns around. No body. The only thing she sees below her is the bible and the small handgun.

Hands on her hips, she paces the hardwood floor of the bedroom, trying to make sense of the night. She remembers feeling angry and distraught, but cannot remember how she ended up on the floor. In the closet, she locates a pair of khaki pants and a faded pink shirt. Shaking now, from being drenched with sweat while the cool breeze blew across her, she changes quickly into the clean, dry clothes. She throws the wet, soiled clothes in a heap on the floor near the handgun. Her eyes shift slowly to where it rests. Scared and confused, she contemplates picking it up again. “I’ll just move it,” she says. “I’ll move it back into the drawer.” Unable to get the gumption to bend over and touch it again, she gives it a small kick with her foot to move it out of the middle of the room.

She notices that the bulb has stopped flickering and tries to flip the switch to turn it back on. Nothing happens. “How strange” she says. “I know I just replaced that bulb.” She walks over to the fixture by the window only to find the bulb has not just extinguished, but exploded. “So that’s what all the glass is from” she thinks aloud. “The cold air from outside mixed with the warm heat in here must have been too much for it.” She makes a mental note to call the electrician to see about moving the fixture away from the window. Still trying to make sense of what has happened she stares blankly out the window into the dark night. The moon is full and is casting a yellow hue over everything in which its beams come in contact. From her window, she sees that the other houses are all dark. “Must be late,” she remarks as if having a conversation with a close friend. It was then that she heard it. “You must complete the journey to gain the rite of passage.”

She doesnt move – not even a blink of her dark eyes. “Wh-What was that? WHO was that?” she asked in almost a whisper. She knows all too well what it was. What she doesn’t know is why it wants her.

‘It’ is them – – the voices in her head. “No. No. NO! This is NOT happening again!” she yells. “I tried. I cannot do it! I do not know what you want!! Leave me alone now, PLEASE!!!” She looks around the room hoping to find someone there. She figures if there’s someone in the room talking to her then she cannot be crazy. She looks under the bed, in the closet and in the small adjacent bathroom but finds no one but herself is in the bedroom.

“What do you want from me? Why can’t you just let me be? Haven’t I suffered long enough?” she asks the faceless voices. She knows they will not answer those questions – they never answer – they only tell her what to do. She has been listening to them for the better part of 15 years now and it’s usually the same words over and over. “You must complete the journey to gain the rite of passage.” Sometimes they say other things, but usually it’s the same phrase over and over and over. She dealt with it for a long time until it began interrupting her life. At one time in her life when she was happy and content, the voices never came. Something changed – something she didnt realize until it was too late to fix – and it brought them. She has asked them repeatedly to tell her why they have chosen her but she never receives an answer.

Her only explanation of this phrase is that the journey is her own self discovery, or acceptance, and the rite of passage is freedom – freedom from the pain, the emotional drain and most importantly – freedom from the voices. She longs for the day she cannot hear them. She just has no idea how to make them go away. She tried to make herself happy in life. She tried to enjoy her children and rebuild the shambles of her marriage. She tried church thinking if she could become a witness of the Lord, she’d surely be saved. Nothing removed the shroud of unhappiness she felt deep within her core.

Suicide was her last resort. Suicide would quiet the voices and calm her mind. Suicide would leave her free from pain and suffering so that she could finally get some peace. She had held on to the hope that God would not let her get to that point, but has given up on Him after the events of this evening. She prayed long and hard before locking herself in the bedroom and received no sign, no word and no hope the voices would cease. When she came to earlier, and there were no voices, she thought she had once and for all silenced them. Had He heard her pleas and urgent prayers? “Thank you, God, for finally bringing me peace” she had begun to say while looking out the window but was quickly interrupted by the phrase she’s come to despise.

Desperate to silence them – to have peace – she retrieves the gun one more time from the floor where she had kicked it earlier, but foregoes the bible this time. “Why should I even bother? You have made it abundantly clear you will not help me in this, my time of need” she says aloud. She, once more, checks the cylinder only to find it empty. “I must have shot it when I passed out” she thinks, having no other explanation for being alive when the gun is empty. Wondering where it hit, she walks around the room slowly trying to locate a bullet. She stops when her shoes crunch the broken glass on the floor below. “The light bulb” she chokes. “I hit the light bulb.” With a nervous laugh she says “Oh well, the flickering was driving me crazy anyway.” Hearing the voices get louder and more demanding, she knows what she has to do next. She has to reload the gun. Walking carefully over the shards of glass, she reaches the nightstand. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she reaches into the drawer and pulls out the box of rounds. She finds it mildly disturbing that something so small can make such an impact. She takes one bullet from the box and rolls it in the palm of her hand. She feels the cool metal against her skin and shivers. For whatever reason, she raises the bullet to her lips and places a kiss on its tip. While doing this, shes acutely aware of the voices speaking to her. “You must complete the journey to gain the rite of passage.” Over and over the chant repeats in her mind. “I know. I understand now.”

She places the bullet into the cylinder and rechecks it to make certain its loaded correctly. As if narrating a documentary, she verbally states the steps shes taking. “I’ve loaded the gun and I will now pull back on the hammer so that when I fire the weapon, it will strike the primer and cause ignition.” Shes perfectly calm now. She has resigned herself that there is no other way to complete the journey. She feels at peace except for one thing. “Please, God, I hope that you can hear me. If you cant make the voices stop, then I understand what I must do. I ask, only, that you protect and guide my children when I am gone. I beg of you to keep them safe.” Having said her piece and a loaded gun in her hand, she moves back to the window where the moonlight is still casting its yellow beams across the scenery. She admires its beauty while taking in deep breaths of the crisp night air. She hears them, again, reminding her of her mission. You must complete the journey to gain the right of passage.

Closing her eyes, she sees visions of her children laughing and playing in a field of wildflowers. She sees them grow and mature into beautiful, young women. “Thats my sign” she says. “I know He will watch them when Im gone.” She keeps her eyes tightly closed and raises the gun once more to her skull. This time, though, shes not screaming; shes not sweating or crying. She is peaceful. The beautiful images of her daughters comfort her as her finger tightens around the trigger. One more thing fills her mind as she fires the fatal bullet deep into her head. Silence. She has finally been granted the rite of passage – the freedom from the voices.

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