Echo, Part 14

Veronica turned to face him.  She seemed genuinely interested in hearing what he was going to say.  Given everything she had already said, that wasn’t very surprising.

“Well, I was considering…”  He was surprised by how hard it was to say the thought out loud.  It seemed ridiculous, both the idea itself and that he couldn’t voice it.

She looked at him askance and he sort of laughed.

“I was considering killing myself,” he finally got out.

“That’s it?”  She seemed confused.

Charles understood her confusion.  It had to be why they were trying to hunt him down but it was such a weird thing to try and prevent, plus, he never had any intention of actually doing it.

He shrugged his shoulders, “That’s all.”

It was Veronica’s turn to laugh.  It didn’t last long, though, as her face turned serious and she chewed on her bottom lip thoughtfully, her brow furrowed.  “Were you going to?”

“No.”

“That’s good.”

He didn’t know how to respond to that so he said nothing.  The silence that fell between them didn’t last long as Veronica quickly launched into another question.

“Why would the FBI care if you killed yourself?”

“Only they know and perhaps the system.  I don’t really care, though.  It is enough to know that they were spying on my thoughts and decided to move to keep me from acting on them.”

“Even though you weren’t going to?”

“Even though I wasn’t going to.  It is kind of a relief, though.”

Veronica seemed shocked, “What do you mean?”

“They were wrong about me.  That means they haven’t really figured all this out and that gives me hope that the system will eventually figure out how to get us all out of this mess.”

Her eyes widened and she nearly whispered, “That’s a good point.”

A little smile twitched at the corners of her lips and Charles could tell that she was about to launch into one her long-winded tirades against the government.  He wasn’t interested in sitting through another rant at the moment so he cut her off before she could even get started.

“So, that’s my story.”

Her eyes found his.  They seemed to bore into him.  “And why you were you thinking about killing yourself?”

Charles sighed.  “I don’t know.  It’s going to sound terrible but mostly out of boredom.”

She laughed.

“Boredom isn’t quite the right word, you know.  It just seemed like, as I am getting older, that there is less and less to look forward to.  Rather the opposite, actually.  There is more to dread.  Health problems.  Higher expenses.  On and on, and at some point I hit upon the notion that perhaps it would be better to avoid some of that.  Thinking about it as a professional sports star, perhaps it would be better to retire on my own terms rather than trying to hang onto the glory and end up being forced out when I wasn’t ready.”

Veronica’s intense eyes seemed to apprise him anew.  There was more than a hint of admiration.  Apparently he had said something that impressed her.  He wasn’t sure if that was good or not.  She wasn’t exactly something he cared if he impressed.  And he felt his own musings on death and suicide tended towards the childish.  There were beautiful parts to all of life.  Some struggles would get harder and some would get easier.  Somethings would cease to come to him naturally and others would start.  The idea of having “glory days” was incorrect.  All of life was glory.  All of life was beautiful, wonderful, a gift.

Veronica smiled again.  This one was different, though.  It was a genuine smile, perhaps the first she had shown him in their brief time together, and it lit up her face.  Charles was struck by how beautiful she was.

“I’m proud of you,” she said.

Charles laughed.  He couldn’t help it.

And, begin:

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