Originally Written 9/30/98 as an excercise to write a story with no adjectives. This is a true account.

An Epitaph

The doctor looked at me. "Have you made your decision?" she asked. I nodded, staring at the floor. "There really isn't any alternative, is there?" I looked up, meeting her gaze.

"Do you want to be with her?"

"I realize this is... well, what I want to ask is: Would it be possible for me to do it?"

"You want to give her the injection?"

"I... I couldn't ask anyone to do something I'm not willing to do. I'm making a decision about someone's life. I can't turn away and not face the consequences."

The doctor's face rearranged itself. I had impressed her. A time like this, and I still think how it affects me. "I like that," she said. "I feel the same way. But the law requires..."

"I understand."

"I'm used to this. I know it's necessary. It's really for the best. It isn't something to feel badly about."

I wasn't trying to spare her feelings. I offered to do it myself for my own sake. Too many times in my life I took the coward's way out. Not anymore. If I make a choice, I look it right in the eye. I used to fear guilt, pain, or fear itself. Now they are things to embrace. They are the only things that let me know I'm still alive. Still human.

We walked into the room. She lay there on the table. There wasn't much heat in the room. With what little strength she had, she looked at me. I kneeled and stroked her head. "You never had a chance, kid. I'm sorry. You never had a chance," I whispered.

The doctor lifted the syringe, and found a vein in the leg.

The needle went in.

She didn't make a sound. She moved so slightly, then stopped.

I looked her right in the eye.

She looked back at me.

"It's over, she's gone," said the doctor. It happened so quickly. In one literal heartbeat. The last one, ever.

The doctor left us. Alone.

"I've only known you since the day before yesterday." I choked. "But I learned to love you."

I tried to close her eyes, but they wouldn't close. They bored into me.

I stood up. "It was for the best," I told myself. This was no rationalization. It really was. But that didn't change how I felt.

I managed to close her eyes. I covered the body of the kitten with a towel. I got up, opened the door, and walked away.

Her name was Olivia. She was beautiful.