The glass in Phil's hand shook violently. He was trembling so much there was almost more water on his skin and the couch than in the glass, he wasn't even thirsty. It was the epitome of how dire these particular straits were, he'd become little more than a robot going through the human motions of life. A small, yet growing part of him wanted to upheave the whole damn glass and send water flying around the room, just to remind himself he could do something, but he settled for angrily slamming it down on his mess of a coffee table.

The everpresent rent was due, but Phil wasn't even looking for jobs any more. It was too late for all that. Besides, he had a plan that would allow him that freedom he so desired and he'd never have to pay rent, or look at his smug, overpaid landlord ever again. As plans go, he'd already considered it a bit of a cock-up, despite the lack of even having attempted execution of it; but as any film made in the advent of modern pop culture will tell you, it's important to have a 'Plan B'. And he did.

He considered praying, a part of him still believed in that kind of thing after all, at least sort of. He couldn't, though. Since his last girlfriend reminded him of how 'resoundingly pathetic' he was, he wouldn't be able to stomach the inner shame of giving up his will to a power he only half believed in. But as he rolled his head back and looked at the ceiling, he would have given anything to be that same naïve choir boy, sitting in church and singing from his dusty hymn book without any kind of serious care in the world. There were serious cares now. Bills to pay, and what not.

So he waited. He had no idea what he was waiting for, considering his thought processes, most likely divine intervention. But that was about as likely as his remarkable contraption coming down and crushing him by accident. Phil's apartment had notoriously high ceilings, it was a historical building, and strapped to the roof was a menagerie of wire, rope and metal that could rival an industrial application of the pulley system. That was Phil's plan. Pull the rope, metal comes down, no more rent to pay. By no means was his invention hanging precariously, all those years of home studying engineering paid off, in a cruel sort of Darwinian way. Besides, it had to be Phil's choice. He couldn't die by accident, that too would just be pathetic. He had to have made the conscious decision to end his own life, and every day homelessness beckoned, that final solution edged ever closer to the inner realms of his psyche.

Laura pushed her way through the crowd of passengers on the train, she needed to get off and on time. People rarely sent letters by actual mail these days, and the contents of the one she'd received that morning made her business all the more urgent. She loved her brother. Enough to skip out on work and travel half way across the country to find out just what it was the clouded her brother's mind enough to have him end every other sentence in the letter with either the word 'pathetic' or a synonym for it.

As she eased her way through the platform, sauntering at a fairly hurried pace, the excitement of seeing her brother soon turned to dread. He said he 'wasn't going to commit suicide', but he said it three times. Why would he be so fixated on the term if he had no plans to go through with it? The dread soon piled up in her bowels, her stomach, it penetrated her entire being. If she opened the door to a sight like that, she might just follow suit. Laura had heard stories of 'discovering' family members before, one story even came from a close friend of hers, having come back to their family home only to discover their father had managed to turn a wine bottle into a suicide instrument. Consumed with thoughts of impending misery, she broke into a run, if only to hold back her tears.

The housephone was ringing, and Phil was eager to pick it up – it'd been a long time since he talked to anyone, and since no-one called the house, he had a feeling it was a sales call. A pleasant ineffectual sales call. Perhaps he could even use it to reach out for some help, relying the common decency of man… or the kindness of strangers, he couldn't recall. The opiates he'd been taking had really muddled his mind. He decided against picking up the phone and pouring out his feelings to a stranger, and this all only served to remind him of his sister. His proverbial 'Plan B'. If she still cared after what he'd done then maybe life was still worth living – he'd take anything at this point, although in ways it had, he'd do anything to stop the depression completely consuming him. He didn't want to be a footnote to the annals of life. But where was she? She didn't call, email, text… Maybe she just ripped the letter up. Did she even live there any more? He felt that it might be a better plan to wait until the letter bounced back, just to see if she really did receive it. Than again, the idea of sitting around, waiting for the postman to deliver a letter he'd already sent back to him was the absolute definition of pathetic.

Phil was all she had in the world, despite being estranged from him for years. But when you pull a stunt like Phil did, separation is the only way the wound can heal. But none of that mattered now. Her brother was in a crisis, and she was willing to do anything to help him.

It was becoming too much. His sister probably either didn't care, or didn't want to help. His ex might as well have been named 'pathetic' at this point, it was all he could muster when he thought of her. Grabbing the rope, he pulled.

Flash Fiction

- Written by Ruben Fisher, Early 2014.

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