Matter of Certain Gravity
|| As they walked along,
I thought of something that Mom had told me when I was about fifteen
or sixteen. At the time I had just dismissed it as more of her hippy
rhetoric, but now it became clear exactly what she was trying to tell
"Now, Jack," she had said, "there will
come a day when you realize something about how the world works; how
people are manipulating others every hour of every day. You watch
out, and don't assume everything to be like it appears." Being
a normal teenager, I dismissed her as paranoid. I mean, how could
you believe someone who had faith in healing crystals and Tarot cards?
Dad was easing Mom onto the picnic bench, and Dr. Reynolds had gotten
The Device set up. The wind picked up again, and I peered up into
the sky, watching the gray clouds float by overhead. It looked like
it would rain at any second.
"Everyone. Victoria would
like to have a few last words," Dad said. We all angled in a
little closer to Mom, who would be whispering her raspy last words.
"I would like to thank all of my close friends and family
who came out to be with me on my last day. I just wanted to tell you
all how very much I love you." A few sobs came from around me,
as I sat there staring at Mom, trying to burn this last impression
or her into my mind. "I will miss you all very much."
She looked to Dr. Reynolds and nodded, and he began fitting an IV
contraption onto her arm. Dad was sitting next to her, his eyes red.
I looked over at Sage and Reno and my other brother Tyler. They appeared
numb, like me. Mom seemed ready to do the deed, and a few sobs turned
into loud cries around me.
"Now then," Dr. Reynolds
announced somberly, "Victoria, this is your last chance to change
your mind." He waited for an answer of some sort. She just looked
at dad, and then at all of us again, and nodded to the Doctor. I almost
expected him to say something to the equivalent of the portion of
a wedding where the minister asks if anyone has a reason why the couple
should not be joined in holy matrimony: ‘Does anyone see a reason
why this woman should not kill herself?’
right then," he said to Mom, "whenever you’re ready."
She reached up to turn the switch that would send the liquid down
the IV tube and into her bloodstream. I felt water starting to swell
up in my eyes. Random raindrops began to pelt the ground.
Suddenly, a pack of dark blue sedans roared up the gravel road. They
skidded to a stop right next to our party, and a bunch of serious
looking men with crisp haircuts and dark glasses jumped out and ran
"Freeze! Hold it right there, nobody move!"
yelled the one in the lead. "Federal Agents. Everyone just hold
Chaos erupted as everyone from our party started screaming and making
a break for their cars. I just stood there, frozen in the eye of the
storm, and the rain began to fall in torrents while the Feds tried
to stop everyone. People got into their cars, and made haphazard exits.
The agents decided to concentrate on Mom and Dad and Dr. Reynolds,
instead. Dr. Reynolds pulled a pearl handled revolver out of his little
black bag and screamed valiantly:
will be legal only when they are made by defense contractors! Dignity
for the suffering!" With that, he aimed his pistol at the agents.
Unfortunately, they were a little more experienced in the art of killing
than he, and they ended up plugging him with about five or six bullets
before he could even get a shot off. Mom and Dad had fallen to the
ground, so I ran over to see if they were all right. I crashed down
next to Dad, who was closest to me. He lay face down in the sparse
grass. I turned him over, and he had a big bleeding bump on his forehead,
but otherwise no bullet holes. I turned around to Mom, who lay there
on her back, staring up at the sky. She had a bullet lodged into the
side of her neck. She looked at me through hazy eyes, and whispered:
"Jack. Remember everything I’ve taught you. And ask
yourself... why is it that they only let you have a slow suicide?"
She closed her eyes for the last time, and I looked up into the melting