A little pit in her stomach. Growing and growing.
She wished it would stop. She wished it would go away. If only it would go away, maybe she'd stop feeling so- maybe she could be calm again, could exhale again, could take a deep breath and be thankful. Thankful for they just saved her life, didn't they, because there was the girl charging her with the hammer- but then this great big noise- and she was maybe safe again. Charlie was safe again, with her bloody nose from when the hammer had awkwardly hit her, and with the little specks of red on her shirt that came out of the other girl's shoulder, and with her gently chattering teeth. She tried to take a breath. To force some air through them. It didn't go as well as she'd planned.
Still growing. Draining something, everything, from the rest of her. Balling it up into this big huge pit of something (of acid? Of something) in her stomach. Heavy. Weighing down. And she still couldn't breathe, couldn't- well, no. That time it worked. Exhale and inhale. So she had that, at least, and maybe she ought to use it. Take advantage of it, since maybe it would make the pit go away. Maybe she'd be fine again, strong again, if she opened her mouth and said a thank you thank you to Dave Matson. Dave with the gun, Dave the cowboy (her cowboy) who shot the other girl down with his big shiny gun and then all of a sudden started looking sad. They all looked sad, well, of course they all looked sad, because to be honest, to be honest, they were all a little shook up right now.
And Kevin stumbled away and the smell of scotch gently followed, and the pit in Charlie's stomach waved bye. The rest of her wanted to say goodbye, but the rest of her was getting slowly drained into the pit so it was understandable that she didn't. She wanted to be mad at him. He was going away, she'd wanted to put her faith in him and now he was gone, but it was understandable. He was a little shook up, maybe. And he was going slowly. And maybe they'd all walk out and find him, tipped over and sleeping, and he'd be back with them. Rested and ready.
Getting a little hard to breathe again. A little choppy, a little too fast. So say something. Say something before it gets too bad. Before the pit gets too heavy. Say anything. Say thank you. Say thank you, David Matson, for saving my life. It'll be quiet, your voice is probably very weak right now, but hopefully he'll hear it anyway, so say it. So say it.
"F- Fuck you." No. Wrong, that was- no, don't say that. You can still stop, Charlie. Act like it was said to the other girl. You can be mad at her, it'd be okay to be mad at her. "Fuck you, David Matson." No, that's- "You fucking idiot! Jesus Christ, you could've fucking killed me! Is that what you do, you fucking trigger-happy psycho? Crazy chick comes at Charlie, what do you do, do you hold her back? No. Do you tackle her? NO. Do you- do fucking any of you do anything at all to help me? NO! You just fucking shoot her and she's right in front of me- you're aiming right at me, you fucking prick, you retarded cowboy, you- fuck you."
Breathing felt easier. That was a plus. And she actually had enough strength to raise her voice. So it wasn't all bad.
"And you, hey, listen, fuck you too." This was David Anderson now. Fuck him too. "You stupid fucking baby, you need a drink? You need a drink now? You need a fucking drink?" He'd grabbed the second bottle by now. She decided she was gonna kick it. She was probably still really weak, pit in her stomach at all, but hopefully she could knock it out of his hand.
It flew against the wall and it shattered. Well. She was feeling better already.
"Nooooo, let me tell you about needing drinks. You'd need a drink if you got hit in the face with a hammer, or if you got shot at by retard cowboy over here, or if you're so fucking boring that alcohol is the only thing even capable of giving you a fucking personality. Oh wait! Ha! Ha fucking ha! I think one of those actually applies to you!"
It felt good. She felt good. She felt strong, strong enough to pick up her duffel bag and just walk out of the shack and never think about it again. So she started to do just that.
"You're all pathetic, self-centered assholes. You, and you, and Kevin- all of you. If you've ever wondered why none of you have any friends, now you know." She looked down at the dead (dying?) girl in the middle of the shack. She must feel left out. So Charlie pointed at her. "You probably sucked too."
She stepped out of the shack and on down the mountain, with a little skip in her step, waving bye cheerfully with her middle finger.
It was gone, the pit. The weight. And the fear, too.
And she'd been right. All she'd needed to do was to say something.
(Charlie DuClare continued in Time is Not On Our Side