I heard the woman before I saw her “Is he ok?”  she asked anxiously. “Is he alright?”

The man lifted me gently, almost like he was scared to. He cradled me with both hands bringing me up to the level of his face. I examined him as he examined me, at first he looked curious, maybe a little confused, and then his breath caught and his hands shook slightly. “My God.” He whispered tears slowly spilling out of his eyes and down his face.

“What?” The woman demanded a little shrilly.

“Oh Sue.” Was all he answered as he handed me over to her. The woman understood more quickly than the man it seemed. She took one soul searching look at me and mewled softly, “oh my baby, my beautiful baby.”

For a time they stood together, with me suspended between them, gazing alternately at each other and at me. Eventually the man pulled away. With the woman’s face in his hands he told her firmly. “We have to pull ourselves together Sue. We have to take care of him. We owe him that much.”

The woman’s face sagged but, she nodded resolutely, setting me down face first on the glass  coffee table, on the other side of it just below me was the boy’s right arm, hand still clutching the gun. In the glass itself I could clearly see the lines he’d etched on my face just before he used it. “Mom, Dad,” they read, “I’m so sorry. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I love you guys. Please forgive me.



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