Thursday, July 1, 2010

The World in Miniature: The Choice

by Justine Dell

The Choice

I never wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.

I thought it would be more like vindication. No. It is hollowness. A wretched knot sticks in my throat—from the sight, not the action. His tar-like, crimson blood pools on the hardwood around my feet. I almost thought it would be black. He is face down. His limbs sprawl out in strange directions. I tilt my head. He looks… broken.

I almost laugh. I am the broken one. He broke me. Time and time again. Doing all the things he never should’ve done. Serves him right, I guess. I turn and look in the mirror. The girl with sunken eyes, raven hair and purple bruises is no more. She’s been replaced by someone who only knows one thing: protection. The eyes are soft, the hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. I even covered the bruise across my cheek and the scar on my left eye. Shimmery pink lipstick is painted on my thin lips. I wanted him to see how other people used to see me. The young girl with the bright future. The pretty girl with no fears. The strong girl who knew how to say no. Even if I'm not that girl anymore, I pretended. Just to see the panic in his eyes when I smiled at him and drew my gun.

My infant daughter belts a cry in the next room. I fight the urge to run to her. I love her, more than myself. It's my job to protect her. To make sure her life doesn’t end up like mine. I don’t want her to be used by ones she loves. I know there are other people who can do better for her. I'm counting on it.

A single tear slides down my cheek. It is warm. I wipe it away. I can’t allow myself a moment of weakness. I look down once more at him. He is still there, lifeless. I prod him with my worn-out sneaker. He doesn’t move. Good. I needed to be sure he wouldn’t get my daughter.

I pick up the phone, dial a number I know too well.

“911 what is your emergency?”

“I just killed my stepfather.”

I drop the phone. The woman on the other end is still talking. I know they will find me soon enough. I put the gun to my mouth. I hesitate for only a second before pulling the trigger.


Vicki Rocho said...

Noooooooo! You had me til the last line. Noooooooo!

The baby! What about the BABY?


JE said...

LOL, sorry Vicki! :o) Five hundred words or less. Use your imagination for the baby.

Matthew MacNish said...

OMG.OMG. Oh my god. This is very good. I mean of course it's terrible, completely tragic, the story, but the writing is very good.

I especially like the stark short sentences breaking up the rhythm of the paragraphs. It forces you into the heart of the narrator and you feel her despair. What kind of abuse would drive her to this point you can only imagine.

Of course the ending sucks. Not that you made a poor decision, it really puts an excellent (terrible) cap on this tiny tale, and you wrote it well, it just sucks for the narrator and her daughter. It's a another great bit of writing though because it is the only thing that could have possibly happened to make this terrible situation worse - like a last gasp before the plunge.

Well done JJ!

Thanks Bryan, you are, as they say, the Man!

Unknown said...

Ack! No! What an ending. Wow. Great job, Justine.

Mira said...

Heavy topic!

A very emotional piece. The opening line is excellent, and I especially like the opening paragraphs. "He looks....broken." I also really like the softness of her description of herself and the juxiposition with the murder act. That's good.

Heavy topic, Justine. Phew.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Awe- the last line is so jolting. Great piece Justine!

DL Hammons said...


*Looks at the authors name again*


Jolting...and thus effective! Kudo's for both the writing and stepping outside of your norm! :)

Candice said...

Eep!!! WOW! Great. Um, yet creepy. Thanks for the nightmares! But I love it! :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Wow. I did not see that ending coming. At. All. Partly because you had me breathless through the whole thing, not able to think ahead, too wrapped up in the moment of reading.


Brava, lady!! :)

JE said...

DL, your comment had me rolling on the floor I was laughing so hard. Remember the warning on my blog? I warned you! LoL ;-)

Sorry to all who were shocked, but I'm glad I surprised you ... sucked you right in!


Unknown said...

Awesomely done, Justine! Dark and heart-wrenching like woah.

WritingNut said...

This is amazing Justine! You really had me going - ahhhh, now I'm all worried about the baby too!

But absolutely wonderful writing--you stepped flawless out of your norm :)

Kay said...

Holy cow!!! That was amazing!!

Great job, JD!! :)


Jennifer Shirk said...


Dark but gooooood!

I bet felt good to write somethng like this--out of your typical genre. Great job!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, Justine. This was amazing, really -- so powerful and beautifully written and so, so compelling. And gut-wrenching.

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

Oh, dear! How very sad.

You broke my heart. Twice. What an ending.

Brilliant story!!!

Christina Lee said...

WOWEE!!!!! Now i want to pick that baby up and protect her *sniff sniff* GREAT JOB!

Tara said...

Wow, oh wow, Justine. Haunting, amazing. Extremely well done.

Lenny Lee said...

hi miss justine! wow! this is real powerful stuff. i gotta say i like seeing a whole nother side of you. i love the funny stuff but i like how you could write some thing way different and do it so good. shows you got lots of talent. for me it ended up how it had to mostly for the good of the baby. i miss you lots!
...hugs from lenny