The bullet slipped into his skin and nestled just above his kidney.

The agony of his face colliding against the concrete of the midnight alley was muted against the throbbing cavern in his torso.

Thoughts flooded and drained from his brain, but he told himself to stop thinking. His blood was pouring out too quickly. Surely, the brain required blood to think, to understand. If he just stopped thinking, the blood wouldn’t flee from him so fervently.

Jagged shards of cement crept into the surface of his body and held him tight. They were cold and lonely. They clung to him for warmth.

He told himself to stop thinking.

His fingers clawed under his collapsed body in search of the uninvited guest that made itself comfortable between his flailing arteries and squirming muscles. They reached the cavern that ripped through the center of his torso. The blood that poured out was warm.

It was his mismatched patchwork quilt made by his grandmother that sat on the corner of his bed during winter.

The air was crisp; it chewed on his exposed skin. The blood was warm, and he thought about sleeping in it.

He told himself to stop thinking.

A stray alley cat with a ratty tail and a split ear crept from behind a dumpster. It edged closer to him and offered a series of strained sounds. He just stared.

The cat nuzzled its nose up against him and let out a quiet mew. He pulled his hand from beneath his body and reached it toward the animal, but it spung backward. Upon returning his hand to the concrete, the cat stalked closer once more and sniffed at his fingers.

It began to lap up the wet blood from the backs of his knuckles. He mustered enough strength to shove it aside, but it only came back and stared at him again. This time, the cat climbed onto his back and began to knead the fabric of his shirt.

He tried to roll over, but the warmth of the pooling blood kept him in place. The cat continued to purr as it curled up between his shoulder blades. He wondered where the cat had come from, and why it would choose to spend its time with him.

He told himself to stop thinking.

But he was afraid of what might happen when he does. He was afraid of the nothingness that awaited him when he stopped. He knew it was like that place between drifting to sleep and landing in a dream.

The Nothing.

He didn’t want to stop thinking. He thought about the old blankets that his grandmother had made for him. He thought about the cat and its unsuccessful search for food and shelter. He thought about the woman who shot him.

He thought about her the most. It was the enflamed, puffy skin around her eyes and the permanent tears thriving on her cheeks. One salty drop fell from her face and landed upon his wallet in her hand. She clenched the leather tight in her left hand; and in the right, the trigger of a concealed pistol.

He felt his brain pulse with great effort to remember the details of her face, but they fleeted into dust. The harder he thought, he knew, would push out the blood with ease. But he realized that he didn’t care.

He hung onto the image of her face. The fear that impaled her eyes and frosted over her lips. He hung onto it until he couldn’t hang any longer. And he fell into nothing.

And he stopped thinking.


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Oh, My Word! is a weekly updated blog featuring fiction, poetry, drama, and essays for the world. #OhMyWordWednesdays

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One Comment on “He Told Himself to Stop Thinking

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