CHRYSTENE PRINTUP - UNTIL THE END
Chrystene Printup attended Full Sail University for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing because of her strong passion for writing. Her favorite genre is horror but she also enjoys writing urban fiction. Chrystene’s primary goal is to write a novel or an anthology of short stories. While attending Full Sail University she obtained a strong interest for screenwriting. Chrystene published two articles for the Niagara County Community College school newspaper while taking a course in Journalism. Chrystene also makes Native American beadwork in her spare time and enjoys watching movies. Chrystene posts some of her work on Blogger at cquinzel.blogspot.com and Tumblr at harlequinn67.tumblr.com.
UNTIL THE END
“And what’s the name sir?” The hotel receptionist asked. Her shiny black nametag read “Carly”.
“Randall, Randall Wiley,” Thomas said and his frail wife, Etta, squeezed his arm. He held her other hand with his fingers bent just enough to touch her skin.
“Okay, I just need a credit card unless,” Carly said in her high-pitched voice before Thomas interrupted.
“I’m paying in cash.” Thomas fumbled in his coat pocket before pulling out a crisp hundred-dollar bill.
Carly raised her eyebrows and raised the bill to the light to assure its authenticity before typing on her computer.
“Thank you, ma’am.” Thomas said, flashing her a wide grin and taking his change along with his hotel key card.
“Have a good night, honey,” Etta said.
Carly resumed typing on her computer, she didn’t hear Etta’s quiet voice.
Etta held Thomas’s arm as he led her to the nearby elevator. She chewed on her bottom lip to hold back the pain of every step she took. They stood waiting for a few seconds before the elevator arrived and very young couple ran out hand in hand with the biggest smiles on their faces. Thomas watched them walk away while he waited for his slow wife to step into the elevator ahead of him.
Etta sat on the bed nearest to the balcony door, running her fingertips along the black stripes on the comforter. “I just love this bed set, Thomas. It reminds me of the first one we purchased together,” Etta said. “Do you remember the first time we got a hotel room, Thomas?”
“Of course, I do, honey. It was the first time we made love,” Thomas said, emptying their suitcase.
“Yes. Everything was so simple then. We had the world at our fingertips,” Etta said. Her eyes followed Thomas as he walked to the bathroom to look at himself in the mirror.
“Yes, and then you got pregnant with Amelia,” Thomas said just quiet enough for Etta not to hear. “Are you sure about this, my love?” Thomas asked, his eyes didn’t leave his reflection.
“I am sure, Thomas.”
Thomas’s eyes filled with tears while he looked at his reflection. The doctors had given up on her cancer and she didn’t want to live the rest of her days in pain.
“Why are you dying with me, Thomas?” Etta asked, her fingers fidgeting in her lap. Every movement of her bones and tendons visible through her pale skin.
“Because I love you,” Thomas said, coming out of the bathroom. He sat next to her on the bed and marveled at the sky through the glass balcony door. The moon lit up the night sky and all of the stars sparkled even brighter.
“I love you too, Thomas.”
Thomas stood in front of her and leaned in for a kiss. Etta turned her head before his lips could touch hers.
“Etta, it’s been almost five years since you’ve touched me.”
Five years ago, on a cold day in January, Etta’s battle with cancer began.
“You told me to leave you the day you were diagnosed. I didn’t,” Thomas said, his hand resting on her thigh. “But you haven’t even kissed me in almost two years.”
Tears fell down Etta’s red cheeks and her sobs echoed through the small hotel room.
He held the mattress for balance as he stood and looked at the light above the headboard of the bed. He drew in a deep breath and his hand curled up into a fist. He looked at Etta’s beautiful eyes and his short nails started to pierce his skin.
Thomas took two swift steps to the other bed where the suitcase sat unzipped and open. Two guns sat at the bottom of the suitcase. He stood with his back to Etta and checked that the gun he grabbed was loaded before setting it in front of him. When Thomas had packed the guns in their suitcase, he assured Etta they were both loaded.
Sweat gathered at the back of his neck and he set the gun on the bed. He ran to the bathroom to vomit, then he said to himself, “She died the day she was diagnosed.” He sat against the side of the bathtub and looked at the ceiling before looking at Etta.
Etta sat on the mattress, looking at the dark gray carpet underneath her feet. She looked at Thomas while he walked towards her.
Thomas made sure the other gun wasn’t loaded before handing it to Etta. “Are you ready?” he asked.
Etta placed her gun against his forehead. “Whenever you are,” she said.
Thomas hands shook so much he couldn’t hold his gun steady. “I love you so much, Etta,” he said. “Together on three, right?”
“Yes.” Etta’s cheeks were red and wet with tears and she could hardly hear Thomas’s voice, but she said, “One.”
“Two,” Thomas said, two tears falling down his cheeks.
“Three,” she said, her eyes locked with Thomas’s.
One gunshot echoed through the shabby hotel room.
“Good-bye, Etta,” Thomas said, picking her unloaded gun up from the bed. “Now, I can live my life the way you never let me.”