You all may not like it…
When he first said hi to her, she was a little suspicious. It was after all, eleven o'clock at night on a Wednesday night, and few people were out, much less in a social mood. And when he pulled a gun out and pointed it at her head two seconds later, she felt that her fears had been justified.
"Let's go sit down, shall we?"
They made their way over to the bus stop. This struck her as strange, since it was the most lit place around. And bloodstains would be a nuisance to clean up off the glass windows. He motioned for her to sit, and she did, back pressed into the corner, knees drawn up to her chest, as if in self-defense. He watched her, surprised that she wasn't crying. He expected her to cry, expected for her to start blubbering and pleading for her life the moment she realized what was happening. She was silent, extremely pale, and her bottom lip quivered slightly, but she wasn't crying.
She was surprised too. She was an easy crier, and this situation should call for some waterworks. But she felt nothing, just a dull constant terror. The noise from a distant radio- probably coming from an apartment where drunken college students were partying instead of studying- made the scenario all the more surreal. She looked at her assailant, and waited. There wasn't anything else she could do.
He shifted his weight, concealing the gun with his leg as it rested against his knee. But she knew it was still there, waiting to be pulled and imbed a bullet into her.
"What do you want?"
She was very bold. He smiled slightly, but not enough to let her see it. She was so bold, and so frank. As if she was trying to be brave. He liked that. Stretching his back slightly, he replied.
"Let's have a little talk. Tell me why I should spare your life. Tell me why you are important enough to live."
His little social experiment was going to be even more impressive than he thought. She sat there, stunned. He had managed to ask the same question out loud that she had been thinking in her head when he first greeted her. It was like an exam that she had only just started to study for, and had no idea how to continue. She was going to die, because she couldn't answer his question.
He watched her. Something in her demeanor had changed. She seemed to visibly sag, like she was now just realizing her predicament. They sat there together for a few minutes, completely silent, except for the buzz of the electric light above them. He shifted his weight unconsciously, and the butt of the gun jabbed him in the thigh. Suddenly he remembered why he was there. Cocking the gun, he raised it so that it was in her line of sight.
"I asked a question."
"I don't have an answer."
Her eyes stared at him- not the gun, him. She was afraid, but she seemed more afraid of the question than of him. He shrugged and raised the gun to forehead level.
"Then I guess you die."
She was still looking at him, though her gaze was getting slightly bleary.
"You deserve to live more than I do?"
Her question was not what he expected as her last words. "Don't get sassy with me," he hissed, fingering the trigger. She shook her head, almost in apology.
"No, it was a real question. I don't know why I deserve to live. I don't know why my life is worth less than yours. Why do you deserve to live?"
Her question was so genuine that he had to put the gun down. Her gaze shifted downward, as if she were embarrassed for him. Once again they sat in silence. He fiddled with the safety on the gun, snapping it on and off. Her voice broke through his thoughts.
"What's your name?"
Startled, he looked up and answered, "Adam" without thinking. She gave a nod.
"Nice to meet you Adam."
He almost wished that she would extend a hand out in greeting, so he could shoot it. But she stayed in her space, leg folded up, and arms tight.
"Nice to meet you too," he replied pleasantly. And then as an afterthought, "I didn't catch your name."
"I didn't give it."
He cocked his head, puzzled. "Why not?"
She shrugged, still not coming out of her cocoon. "Courtesy." She said simply, "That way you're not killing someone. I'm just the bitch that died in the bus stop."
It was the first time she had acknowledged her fate. For some reason that made him uncomfortable. Before he could respond, she was ready with another question.
"So how are you Adam?"
What she was trying to do suddenly struck him. "Your thinking of being the kind soul that saves me, and conveniently saves yourself huh?" he spat, raising the gun once again, "You're full of shit."
Instead of protesting, stammering, or even blushing in agreement, she simply sighed and asked another question.
"Have you ever had an amazing experience? Or done something you were really proud of?"
Confused, he nodded.
"Have you ever been ready to tell people about your amazing time, but no one listens? Like you don't matter?"
Lowering the gun slightly, he nodded again.
"I think that the basis of human need is the need to tell people about these things. So that you don't forget what you've done, so that it wasn't all a waste of time. No one listens to the things I've done, so I make it a point to listen to what others have to say."
He chuckled slightly, "That's what psychiatrists are for you know." But she shook her head.
"They're paid to listen. It's just a job and you're just another client. People want to be listened to, to know that they actually impact somebody else other than themselves. It's not a selfish thing, and I'm not being a selfless martyr. I'm just asking you how you are."
He stared at her for a minute, and suddenly felt a sweeping rush of anger. "You know what bitch? What if I say I'm depressed? What if I take this gun and shoot myself in the temple?" With that he raised the gun to his own head.
Her reaction was strange. Again she looked downward, as if she were embarrassed for him. And then she said in a simple voice, "Don't do it."
"I don't want you to die."
"Bullshit. You just don't want to see someone die."
"True. But I don't want you to die Adam."
"Fine," he said, turning the gun to her, "the you can die."
She was looking at the gun now, and he anticipated her tears. But they still didn't come. Instead she started shaking slightly, and closed her eyes gently, as if she were waiting for a surprise. He growled in exasperation.
"Closing your eyes won't stop the bullet."
"But I won't have to know when I'm going to die."
"You'll know. Do you know what happens to you after you die?"
"So what does that mean? You just die?"
"Aren't you scared?"
"Betcha you didn't think you'd be this scared."
"My biggest fear in life is death."
"That's good. What's the second fear?"
There was silence and then a loud click as he pulled the trigger. She suppressed a small whimper, but felt no pain. Cautiously, she opened her eyes to his voice.
"There was no bullet in the first round. Now get out of here."
She felt so weak, so shaken, but she wasn't going to leave.
"You'll kill yourself."
"Stop being such a selfless bitch. It won't get you into heaven- you already said you don't believe in that."
She waited for his scathing reply, but instead he just looked at her.
"You're really pretty."
"I bet you get that a lot."
'But you don't believe it?"
"Well no guy ever told me that."
"Well now a guy has."
She gave a small smile and stretched her legs out, standing up abruptly.
"What are you doing?"
"Turning on the heat in here. It's cold."
He watched her walked across the stop and turn the little dial. The sound of a heater came on presently about his head. Then she walked back over to her spot and sat once again, legs up against her chest. He waited a few minutes, and then stood up.
"Ok, I'm done with this. I'll see you later."
"You're not going to go kill someone else?"
"Nah. You were my social experiment for the night."
"You're not going to kill yourself right?"
He looked at her and she stood up to meet his gaze. Putting the gun in his pocket, he rested a hand on her shoulder.
"I was honestly thinking about it, but I don't know, something you said made me decide against it. Maybe because I know I'm not the only one that feels like nothing."
She smiled. "Glad I could be of service to you fellow nothing." With that she started walking away, shoulders tense as if to fight off the cold. He watched her form for a second and then yelled after her.
"I still didn't catch your name!"
"I still didn't give it! I'm waiting for you to shoot me in the back."
Even in the end she was still frank about everything. He gave a small smile and pulled the gun out of his pocket, raised it to the back of her receding head and fired.
There had been only one bullet in the gun. He had decided to kill himself that night. But she saved his life.