Dan McKeithan

Jacob left his briefcase on the counter and entered the living room. Marla sat on the couch with her hands on her head. She’d been crying again. She was stuck on this couch all day with nothing to do. Mind numbing depression. He knew she depended on him to help. Just the sight of her in so much pain made him hurt. She would never understand the depths of his love.

He sat beside her on the couch, sweeping her blanket and pillow on the floor and put his arm around her shoulders.

“What’s the matter, sweetheart?” he asked.

She looked up at him with red eyes. Snot was running down her nose. “I can’t seem to rid my mind of all these dark thoughts. Why me? It would’ve been better for you if I’d not made it out alive.”

“I’ve told you time and time—don’t say such things. I couldn’t live this life without you. Do you remember what I said before the accident?”

Marla leaned back into his arms. “That you lived to take care of me—I just never—It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

“We don’t choose our paths in life. They choose us. I chose you.” Jacob said.

Marla sniffed the snot trail back up her nose and wiped the tip of it on his shirt. “I know you did, and I never would’ve noticed you if you hadn’t.”

Jacob squeezed her tight. “You always had your nose stuck up in some dumb book. It took a hell of a lot of work to get your attention. But it was all worth it in the end.”

Marla relaxed and settled back against his arm. “I didn’t know what I needed at that time. Or what I would be missing.”

Jacob removed his arm and grabbed a glass of water from the side table. “Have you taken you’re meds today?”

Marla shook her head.

Jacob reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a yellow pill bottle. He shook out a handful of pills and placed them into the water. They swirled and dissolved quickly.

Marla took the glass and swallowed it in one long gulp. “I talked with my mom today.”

Jacob moved to a recliner beside the couch. He straightened his tie and fixed his jacket. “Really, what did she have to say?”

“More of the same. She still doesn’t trust you. She thinks you had something to do with the accident.”

Jacob rose from the chair. “That conniving bitch. She’s tried to break us apart ever since I found you. She thinks just because she’s my therapist that she knows more about me than I know about myself. She’s full of shit.” Jacob kicked the table.

Marla sat up from the couch. “Please don’t lose your temper. Mom means well. She just doesn’t understand how much you care for me.”

Jacob relaxed and sat beside her on the couch. “Maybe we should just show her how important you are to me.”

Marla tried to scoot away from him. “What are you going to do?”

Jacob grabbed Marla and stood with her in his arms. He pulled her wheelchair from behind the couch and slammed her down inside it. “This time it will be her that has the accident. While you watch.”

Dan completed his MFA in Creative Fiction from UC-Riverside in 2016, studying under some great horror writers – Stephen Graham Jones at UCR and later Richard Thomas independently-all while fighting off cancer. Prior to that he attended UCLA in Professional Screenwriting in 2002 while working for Warner Bros. as security for EXTRA. Now his day job is running two nursing homes in North Carolina and when he’s not at home or off in Russia with his in-laws he tries to get a little writing done.

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