think foreshadowed this? She evidently gives up, then procures a manufactured empathetic expression. “It’s not your fault, you know. He probably felt alone and felt he couldn’t talk to anyone.” Those words make me snap out of my semi-coma state. “HE COULD HAVE TALKED TO ME!” I was screaming, and every eye, including the ones in the forming crowd behind the tape, snap to me. The worst part was the fact that she had just been trying to help. I push past everyone and run home with bitter tears threatening to spill over, leaving twenty people trailing me with their gaze. I come in the front door, hurt and rage and despondency all battling for dominance in an emotional battlefield. My mom jumps at me, slinging the onslaught of Universal Worried Mom Questions. I am buried under a slew of Where were you?s, Why weren’t you in your room?s, and How dare you sneak out?s. I am still numb, except for the newly acquired buzzing in my ears, which serves to tune down the Questions. My face must look pretty horrible, though, because my mom stops following me halfway up the stairs and lets me go. I go into the bedroom, this one without a dead friend inside. My father has the same routine every night. I can’t remember a time when he did something different. He comes in through the side door, shuffles to the table and dumps his duty belt on it, then collapses on the couch to watch an episode of Arrow. Upon completing this, he’ll go upstairs to take a shower, taking the belt with him to tuck it in his closet. So, what I’m saying is, he leaves his gun on the table. For a full forty minutes. When he comes in tonight, I wait until he flicks on the TV, then creep downstairs and into the kitchen. I lift the gun out of its holster and hold it in both hands, as if trying to cup water in them. Then I press the cool metal to my temple. * * * * * My father is stirring. That wasn’t part of the plan. Once he was on the couch, he wasn’t supposed to get up; he must have heard me come down. I quickly slip the gun back in its holster, then walk over and stick my head in the fridge. “Hungry?” My father is standing behind me. His voice is gravelly, and it is the first time I’ve ever seen him look so unsure of himself. I turn to face him, shutting the door. “Not really.” He comes over to the table and sits down, nervously slapping the salt shaker between his hands for a few moments. He clears his throat a few times, trying and failing to cover the sound. “What happened, Andrew?” He says it in 35

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