by Marissa McNamara
I'm telling the guy up the street about the gang I saw running from my house, the doors wide open and my purse in their hands. He says, "This sounds like the same crew who walked up to my wife last year right in front of our house and said, 'You wanna get shot, Bitch?'"
I answered, "Well, what did she say?"
I mean, really, one could, in the right mood on the right day, say yes. Say your father has just died or you've found out your son is a heroin addict or that your daughter in college is down to 80 pounds that the therapist says is your fault because you expected her to be perfect--it could be a day like that, and you might consider the offer.
Why not want to get shot there in the street by a boy with a gun and his crew? And who says he'd really do it? Would he pull the trigger right there in the sunlight on a tree-lined street? I don't know-I mean, there his friends are, and he wouldn't want to lose face. Maybe he would pause, wait for them to hold him back or maybe they would hold you back while you yell at him to go ahead, shoot the gun, you don't care what the fuck he does because there is too much to do to want to add another thing. Maybe you don't feel like going home from this walk and opening the front door and letting the dogs out and cooking dinner, answering the phone, breathing. Again.
Only now the crew just thinks you're crazy because you're yelling at them to go ahead. To yes, please, shoot me. They're lifting you to their shoulders, they're carrying you toward your house only they don't know which house is yours and you tell them, you tell them, "That one!" Only you don't point at one so they don't know. They carry you, four of them, the one with the gun walking ahead like a priest leading a funeral procession and they are the pallbearers and they the choose a house, any house, any house that looks like it might be yours and they lay you in the grass and cross your hands over your chest.
The question is, do they shoot you after all or do they leave you to work on the cross stitch in the basket by your bed or to finish the bread dough that you made this morning, the dough that is rising warm under a towel on the counter, this bread that you kneaded before all of the phone calls and the falling apart of things, and you think, even in death these things would still be mine. They're not going away either way unless you suddenly believe in heaven and even then, they would still have existed at one time-here. Even if in heaven your son is healed from heroin and your daughter has been disconnected from feeding tubes-even if in heaven they will be whole and not shattered from a childhood in which things happened that you don't want to hear, they still will have gone through it. It does not take away what happened.
So if you die now, maybe they will follow you to heaven where, at least according to lore, they are, in some way, healed. In the meantime, whether you die or not, their lives are unfinished until they meet up with you again, and this is assuming that you are all allowed in.
All of this, of course, depends on if you believe in heaven which you do not except now in consideration of death and you realize suddenly that the boys have gone and you are alone on the lawn, hands crossed over your chest, grass under your back, a blue sky above and the smell of jasmine around you and that although you've asked to be shot, they have not followed through on their offer. So you get up and go into the house. You brush off the grass and put the dough in the oven and when your husband comes home and asks how your day was, you tell him that a group of teenage boys offered to kill you today but wouldn't follow through on your consent and he wonders then if you are alive standing before him or a ghost. But he doesn't ask and you realize that all you can do is to bake the bread and put the grass stained clothes in the wash and sit down to dinner with your husband and ask him if he's going to mow the yard.
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
Want to comment on this story? Click Here to go the Literary Review Discussion Forum (for the subject, enter "Comment on story You Wanna Get Shot?")