“You look like you’re on drugs, but I need to know – do you know where the heart exactly lies?” Ida shouts at you.
“It’s generally not as far to the left as you’d think”. You put the revolver too far to the right, and she corrects you. “No. Egor will escape at worst with a punctured lung. You put it too straight and it’ll go through straight through his spine, leaving him paralyzed. That won’t do.”
Her soft fingers hold your hand and guide it to a spot on Egor’s chest where the revolver barely grazes a thumping heartbeat – a soft, rhythmic drum waiting to be subdued. “But here’s where the heart lies.” Her hands clasp around yours, a moment that surprises you with its intimacy. Her pulse touches yours, and through the layers of skin and blood and flesh that we are, you know you are more ephemeral, more timeless; that she and you are stars and light, far more than the stench of the night forest that surrounds you. For that one moment, you’re convinced you’d shoot all the Egors of the world for her.
“That’s it, sweetie. You shoot through here, between the ribs and the heart will bleed out.” You think of what remains of your friend Egor’s heart. His heart would slowly give in, much like he had, tied up and alone in the forest. As the red would soak through, his heart would lay about in a crimson waste, a tragic shrine to all the possibilities of his life.
The night doesn’t sneak shyly behind a tree, ashamed in the ritual of your brutal murder. It’s instead pompous, unabashed even, as it bears down heavily on you with all its darkness, an accomplice to your celebrations. As a bright yellow speck wafts through the night, perhaps a firefly or your own imagination, your mind wanders back to months of counselling sessions and group therapy. Ida and Egor both accompanied you to them all those times, a place where all her mental activity and growth was restricted to playing with her bright red hair and fidgeting her small mechanical pencil that she kept tucked behind her ear.
All she understood was want and desire, a little being at the core of her existence restlessly shouting.. more, more, MORE!
“Just shoot him so we can be one again”, she shouts – this time at her loudest, her voice unbearable, drowning at all else in you – even the voice within.
Your fingers reflexively operate the trigger as your muscles go entirely limp. You wait for the bullet to course through Egor’s heart and then it hits you.
Ida’s quiet now, and your Egor’s only a slightly deader than when you found him. With that comfortable realization, you pass out on your sofa, a half-used syringe in your hand.
Kanishk is a student at IIM-A. He likes to write. This story was written for a short-story competition on a gloomy afterglow of a Sunday afternoon.