There are no limits to what we are willing to do for those we love. At the sketchy Motel 8, there sat a man and a woman contemplating that very statement.
Previous guests, left mementos by the smell of smoke in the air, set piss stains in the sheets, and long abandoned needles left around the room. The half-made beds and cockroaches possibly as old as the hotel itself greeting the current guests in passing, scurrying from one corner of the room to the next. Grace and Aidan sat on their perspective twin sides beds facing one another in contemplation, while the clock on the wall ticked with strength more daunting than the summer heat they felt even indoors. The payout will leave one of them and their family set for life if they play their cards right.
“The scar on your face it’s… interesting. where did you get that from?” Grace asked.
“I earned that oversees fighting for our country. My wife Eileen had a reaction like yours when I finished my time with the army and came home. Your finger has a red ring around it, but I don’t see a ring. Are you married as well?” Aiden asked.
“I was. My husband died last year in a hit and run incident, the driver was never caught, but my son Jace and I have been surviving as best as we can ever since. He’s only five years old, too young to understand the ways of the world, but old enough to know pain and sorrow. Sometimes I wear it on my hand, other times I leave it on my necklace, but I always keep it and my memory of him close.”
“I can’t imagine what that was like for him. I’m sorry. My wife is three months pregnant, expecting a boy of our own in January. We planned on waiting until she was in the last month to name him. We lost our previous child six months in. We are both confident that this one will make it.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I can only imagine the turmoil that left both of you in in the aftermath. I pray your wife and child survive and thrive.”
Once again, the tense silence sat between them the clock still ticking in the background reminding them both that this hour would lead to the hardest decision of their life. Grace checked the burner phone they were given sitting on the nightstand between them. They had already been sitting there for almost thirty minutes.
“We have thirty-three minutes left. I almost regret not buying some wine. Wine always makes things a little easier for me to deal with.” Grace said. They both laughed, but there was no joy behind it, only remorse over what was to come.
The clock continued to tick in the background, fifteen minutes until nine pm. They stared at each other, Graces eyes red, Aidan’s face unreadable.
“I’m sorry” he said.
“I’m sorry too.”
In one swift motion he reached for the knife he carried in his back pocket and lunged at her. Grace just barely dodged and pulled the gun from her pocket. He slapped the gun out of her hand and decked her in the face. She fell to the floor. He advanced to stab her on the ground, she kicked him in the groin before he could. She crawled on the floor to reach the gun. He grabbed her foot and yanked her towards him. He went to stab her in the back, but she turned swiftly carrying a syringe on the floor and stabbed him in the chest. He yelped and she again went for the gun.
“You don’t have it in you to pull the trigger, let me end this and I promise to take care of your son.” He said advancing again.
She fired and the first shot hit the wall. The second, straight in his heart. They both stared at one another adrenaline rushing, shock set in. He dropped to the floor dead. With two minutes to spare she picked up the phone.
“it’s done.” Was all she said.
“3 million dollars will be transferred to you as promised, well done.” Said the distorted voice on the other end of the line.
Grace shook uncontrollably and cried. She felt relief for her family, and sorrow for Aidan’s. She swore she would use half of the money to help his family, like she hoped he would have done for hers.
Nagee Powell is a creative type from North Carolina. A jack of all trades when it comes to work. In his downtime he enjoys video games, anime, art, reading, drawing, food, mother nature, and good friends to help keep him upbeat through the roller coaster called life.
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