With shaking hands, he raises the gun to his head, his finger a mere breadth from squeezing the trigger. “Is this what you want? How you want to see your dad go?” he screams, spit flying from his toothless mouth, his eyes glowing red. “Answer me,” he says. Again, “Answer me.” A part of me wants to; the other part cannot quit staring at the purple and blue wildflowers scattered throughout the field, how the sun shines on them, making them seem worth as much as store-bought flowers, when we deem them weeds and pluck them from the earth.
I remember being a child, running through this very field, and gathering up the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. My heart racing, I ran to my mother, hiding the flowers behind my back and giggling. “What is it? What do you have there?” she said, reaching out. But I turned away, her giggles joining with mine in song, as she chased me down, and I raised the hand clutching the bouquet. “Oh, honey,” she said, bending down to grab them from me, “these are wildflowers, you don’t want these.”
Of course I did not, they were for her. But she said, “See, they’re fading.” I began to cry, as she walked towards the waste basket, wondering why I did not know that, that these were not good. My mother heard me crying and she stopped. She looked at me and smiled, took a vase to our kitchen sink and filled it with water, then my flowers, and then she sat it in the sun. I quit crying when she said, “Now they’ll be just as beautiful as when you found them,” even though they were already gone.
“Answer me,” he says, water filling his eyes, eyes with pupils that could swallow a planet whole. The gun moves, pressing further into his temple, the skin around the barrel stretching to make room. A warm breeze grazes my cheek, pushing against me, while the dirt clings to my feet. The sun, its brightness scorching like the fire it is, keeps my gaze down. Birds chirp loud across the sky, coming home to warmth after hiding from the cold, and I wonder what they are saying.
I do not run to my father; I do not see him press down on the trigger; I do not even hear the bullet’s ringing as it breaks through his skull.
To me, he was already gone.
Born in Tennessee, Angel Filyaw is currently studying English literature at Roane State Community College. Find her snuggled in the corners of a coffeehouse, sipping a hot mocha and inhaling a novel.