Any Resemblance Is Purely Coincidental

“What do you want?”

“To talk.”

“Okay. Talk.”

“You might want to watch your mouth.”

“I’m sorry.”

“That’s better. No one really understands, you know.”

“Understands what?”

“How anyone can get to this point, how things can go so far off course.”

“Why don’t you explain it to me.”

“Don’t patronize me. Try to keep me talking and distracted. Try to connect with me so I won’t kill you. Don’t try it.”

“Okay. I’m sorry. I just… Don’t shoot me.”

“I told you, I just want to talk.”

“But the gun…”

“It’s just to make sure we have some time alone. Don’t want to be interrupted too quickly.”

“So you aren’t going…?”

“No! If you keep asking me, I might change my mind though.”


“Now, where was I…?”

“You were saying no one understands…”

“Oh yes. People whose lives are okay could never understand how things could get so bad. If they could understand, they wouldn’t have okay lives. Nobody really understands desperation until they are desperate. It must be a law or something.”

“Maybe if you tried to explain. Maybe someone… Maybe I could understand?”

“I told you not to patronize me.”

“I’m not! I swear! You can put the gun down. I want to try to understand. I mean it.”

“… I almost believe you.”

“You should.”

“Well. Let me try to explain.” With that, he raised the gun to his own mouth and pulled the trigger.


“Do I know you?”

The man in the white coat smiled at her. “Apparently not. I’m Dr. Murphy. Do you know where you are?”

Concentrating hard, she tried to find the answer, but her mind was almost blank. Finally, she gave up and shook her head.

Her distress must have been obvious, for he reached out to touch her shoulder gently. “It’s alright. I’m here to help you. Now… Take it easy, but let’s try again. Where are you likely to find a doctor?”

The answer appeared in her mind but vanished before she could grab it. Try as she might, she could not find it again. It was hopeless.

He gave her a friendly smile. “That’s fine. We’ll come back to that later. Do you know your name?”

She knew the answer. Of course she remembered her name. “Yes.” She gave a relieved smile. “It’s…” It was gone. What was it? She knew it. She knew she knew it. But she didn’t. The information just wasn’t there.

“Okay. Do you remember me bringing you here?”

She didn’t. Her sense of frustration continued to grow.

“Do you remember screaming and struggling as I gave you an injection?”

His smile never wavered, but her frustration turned instantly to apprehension. What injection? “What?! What did you give me?”

Still he smiled. “Nothing terribly dangerous. It affects your memory. I wanted to see how effective it is.”

Now apprehension was replaced by terror. What was going on? Who was this man, and what had he done to her? Why? Her chest felt tight as she searched for some way of escape.

As she looked around, she saw a man in a white coat. “Do I know you?”

All He Wants

How many times had she asked? “What do you want for your birthday?”

“I don’t want anything. Nobody needs to make a big deal about it.”

“But we’re your friends. We gotta do something.”

“Really. It’s okay.”

She let it drop. Still, there was one thing he wanted. But he kept it to himself. Brave people ask for what they want, and he had learned long ago he wasn’t brave.

As the day approached, though, he thought about it more and more. Two days before, he saw her, and he took a chance. “There is one thing I want.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah.” He mumbled, his resolve slipping.

“What?” She looked at him over her glasses.

“I like being in nature on my birthday. I like walking. Do you want to come to the park with me. Walk through the snow?”

She looked at him as though she didn’t quite believe him. “Is that all you want? To walk through the park?”

He nodded, what little courage he had was gone.

“Sure. Why not? When?”


“Ok. See you then.”

She walked away. He stared after her, wishing he was brave.

The day came, and she drove with him to the park. Despite the snow, the sun warmed the day. They walked, talking about pleasant things. She fell to the ground and made a snow angel. The park was small, and they covered most of it, ending up by the swing set.

He stood leaning on a wooden railing. She leaned on a matching railing across from him. They had gotten quiet, though they stared intently at one another. She had to know why they were there, she smiled as though she knew. But she wouldn’t say it. Wouldn’t do anything to help it. It was up to him. But he wasn’t brave.

Finally, after an agonizingly long time, he leaned forward and kissed her. It was tentative at first. He expected her to pull away at any moment. But she didn’t, and it became more insistent. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. After awhile, he broke the kiss. Or perhaps she did. She looked at him over her glasses again. He couldn’t read her expression, but she wasn’t running away. They stood in the embrace for several moments more before she stepped back.

“So,” she said eventually. “Is that what you wanted?”

He nodded. “Yes. That kiss is what I really wanted for my birthday.” He wasn’t sure what more to say.

“Is that all you wanted?”

A brave man would say, no. What I really want is to take you back to my place and lead you into my bedroom. I want to undress you, slowly. To kiss every inch of skin as it is uncovered. To lie next to you and trace your body. I want to caress you, feel your skin. I want to learn every bit of you. And then, when we know each other’s bodies, I want to make love with you. To give voice to my passion. To tell you how I feel in a way words cannot hope to reach. That was what a brave man would say.

But he was not brave. So he simply said, “Yes. More than anything else in the world, that is what I wanted for my birthday.”

She smiled an unreadable smile and took his hand briefly. “Well then, happy birthday.” And she kissed him once more.

They walked back to his car quietly and then met up with others for dinner. Because of his lack of bravery, he did not get all he wanted that day.

But because he managed a little courage after all, he would get it one day.