Crystal clutched her shoulder, blood seeping through slender spaces her fingers left on the soft, sanguine skin. She could not look away from the blood, but her periphery revealed much. George had put the gun down and was pacing. Her ears still rang from the shot, but she could hear him muttering to himself. Something about justice. He kept using the word "fair". She wondered momentarily if he knew what it meant. She almost chuckled, but the smell of blood and gunpowder dictated 'smirk' instead.
"George, you fucking asshole. I'm gonna die."
"Oh, shut the fuck up. I shot you in the shoulder."
Crystal took a deep breath and tried to move. No way.
"George, listen to me. It doesn't matter where you shot me if I bleed to death. You gotta take me to the hospital. Just drop me at the ER. I won't say shit."
He cocked his head to the side. It was a habit he had. Crystal had always called him 'the parrot' behind his back.
"Why the fuck would I take you to the hospital?"
"'Cause you fucking shot me! Because they can stop me from dying. Are you fucking mental?"
"I'm not taking you to the hospital."
"Why, George? What the fuck are you doing? What do you want?"
He cocked his head again and scratched his chin thoughtfully. Crystal was beginning to feel faint. None of it mattered anymore.
"What do I want? I wanted to fucking love you, bitch!"
"Then why didn't you?"
"You didn't try hard enough."
George walked into the kitchen and she could hear the ice cubes kiss the glass before he drowned them in gin. Fucking think, Crystal! She was fading, but there was time. But that was the joke. It had always been fading, and there had never been enough time. She could no longer see, but she could hear him. He was right in front of her.
"How could I have tried harder? Tell me..."
"Fuck you, George."
She felt a slight surge of energy, followed by a pain so immense that it had a color. Deep, opaque.
"You want to know how? You could have stopped thinking about yourself for five minutes. You could have not fucking shot me. You could have been a decent person. But you're not. You're an asshole. And a stupid one at that."
"Call me an asshole again..."
"And what, asshole, you'll kill me? I'm dying, motherfucker. You failed. You didn't want to kill me, but you fucked up. Like you fucked up our relationship. Like you've fucked everything up for your whole life. You want to know why I married you? I felt sorry for you. And I felt worthless. I felt like I deserved your pathetic ass. Maybe I did."
There was silence for a minute or so. Enough time for Crystal to reflect. She would never pick up her dry cleaning. They would never know why. She could feel her mind shutting off.
"Pick up my dry cleaning?"
"My fucking dry cleaning, can you pick it up after I die?"
"You're not going to die."
"I am dying, you idiot. You can see the blood, right?"
"Don't say you're sorry. Whatever you do, don't say you're sorry."
"But I love you."
"Then pick up the fucking dry cleaning."
"You don't know what love is, George. You think it's about possession and absolute loyalty. You never wanted a wife. You wanted a female reflection of yourself. But I'm not like you. I never was."
"Tell me. Tell me what to do."
There was no response, and he grabbed her shoulders, slumped her against the wall. Her mouth gaped open and her eyes were opalescent. Beautiful eyes. She'd always had such beautiful eyes. He realized that she would never speak again, but he knew what she would have wanted.
His hands shook as he tried to hold the gun backwards, thumb awkward on the trigger. He could see her side of it. She had never seen his. He was willing to give it all up. So they could be together. He heard a pounding on the door as he worked the barrel between his gritty teeth.