Writing Prompt #11: Once

Happy June 1st! We’re going to kickstart this month with another writing prompt from the Promptuarium. Please feel free to respond  to it in the comments below!

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I am kneeling on the ground before her, completely at her mercy. There is a gun in her hand, and it is pointed right at me. I do not know if she expects me to beg for my life or not, but I don’t intend to either way. I respect the both of us too much for that. Instead, I say, “I never stood a chance, did I?”

She swallows. A slight tremor runs through her hands. “That’s the sad part,” my once-friend says, lowering the gun a fraction of an inch. “You did once.”

The words hurt more than they really should. Yes, once. Back when I had no reason to pit myself against her. Days filled up with laughter, touched by the sun. Those days are so hard to remember, now. It’s been a long time since either of us had a reason to laugh at anything. Is she implying that I should have done something then? That I should have known it would end like this, and that I should have tried to prevent it?

She brings the gun back up, and even though I always believed that I was not afraid of dying, the thought of losing my life like this makes my heart race. My friend keeps her face carefully neutral, but I can see in her eyes the same terror that is in my heart. “Lex, you don’t have to do this,” I blurt out. “We’re better than this. You know we are.”

She swallows again, and that steady certainty melts away. But the gun remains up, and I know that although she doesn’t want to do this thing, she still intends to see it carried through.

For a moment, I just see the barrel of the gun, and as the moment stretches, I hope that maybe she won’t do this after all. “Maybe I was, once,” she says finally. My shoulders fall. With those words, any hope I had of convincing her to let me go evaporates in my chest. Her finger twitches towards the trigger before I can even get a word in, and, despite myself, I find that I am squeezing my eyes shut.

Something clicks, and I flinch. But nothing hurts, and after a moment, I brave opening my eyes. My friend has disappeared. I am alone in an alleyway, still knelt on the ground, but I am not dead. I scramble to my feet and I do not hesitate to run. She let me go today, but I do not think she will give me another chance.

In my heart rests the knowledge that she has given me another chance to beat her, and for a moment, an image floats into my mind, powerful enough to make me stumble: Lex, kneeling on the ground while I hold a gun pointed at her. At my friend. I am not sure I could do it. But I’m going to have to figure out how to, because my life might just depend on it.

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