Time. An elusive motherfucker of a concept. It deceives us with the illusion that it’s never-ending, when the reality is that our allotment of this most precious commodity is limited. It goes on forever, while we do not.
I’d always been aware of the proverbial ticking clock, each sweep of the hand a not-so-subtle reminder that time was not on my side. And for nearly eight years, I had locked that away, managed to embrace the here and now as opposed to slashing off the minutes with acute consciousness of their finite number. I’d pay for that soon enough, but I would never regret it. The risk had been worth it, though the magnitude of the fallout, once I pressed the detonator and blew up the world as I knew it, remained to be seen.
This particular day came far sooner than I had anticipated. No, I wasn’t going to die. Not today anyway. But I faced something that could no longer be avoided, and might well be much worse.
My bet had been called, and I already knew I’d lost. That’s what eventually happened to selfish pricks like me. I hadn’t grown up to be a good man. I’d done what was best for me at the expense of others, and I didn’t have a conscience. At almost forty-two years old, it was too late for me to form one. That was an inherited trait passed down by dear old Dad. As much as I’d done everything in my power to avoid ending up like him, it’s what had happened anyway. The fucker .
Even from the grave, that son of a bitch was determined to make my life a living hell. Good always prevails over evil, my ass. I shoved the file I’d been looking at away and plowed a hand through my hair.
For the second time in my life, I wished for a different path than the one I’d been destined to take. The first time had proved futile; this would be no different. I’d known I wouldn’t be able to hold on to the best thing in my life, so why the hell did I feel like my heart was about to beat out of my chest?
Preparation was the key to every success I’d had, and today was no different. Despite being in the middle of desperate ground, I was prepared, and I intended to win. I also had the element of surprise going in my favor, but even that felt hollow. Victory would in essence be defeat.
There were two women in my life that were more important to me than anything. They had wormed their way inside me, made me feel as if I actually had a heart. One of them had come to me after years of surviving on my own. She’d forced me out of solitude, been the only person who truly needed me. The other owned me completely. Without the first, I never would have had the second. Both of them had shown me the true meaning of family. Of unconditional love. Of what it meant to be a part of something bigger than myself.
What I had to do would hurt them, wreck them really, but in the end, I was saving them both from the misery that lay ahead. I would do what was best for them, even though it might kill me.
The red light on the security system panel lit up, alerting me that the front door had opened. I rolled my shoulders back, inhaled a lungful of air and released it, and then pretended to focus on what was on the desk. This would not go well.
The familiar sound of heels clicking on the hardwood floors didn’t bring the sense of comfort I’d grown used to. Today, it was more like the final seconds clicking off the countdown clock in my head.