by Apple Ardent Scott
Alabaster blindness, so bright as to render useless any barrier, flared, then froze in time. Douglas Martin Hoover’s finger lay clenched upon the trigger. The bullet peeked past the misty end of the muzzle and pressed into the flesh of the genihyoid muscle, poised for its invasion through tongue, upper palate, spacious nasal cavities, then into soft, creamy brain matter. Doug’s thoughts anticipated oblivion, even as his creamy brain matter exploded into a Chinese New Year of lit fuses and racing sparks. Every neuron fired its brightest, vying for Doug’s last nanosecond of attention. He saw the handlebars on his first three-gear bike and felt the sweaty grips under his hands. He saw his fifth grade teacher, a southern mammy, moved from the plantation to the classroom, keeping them chillens in line and teaching them their 1-2-3’s. Mrs. Barnes was the greatest math teacher in Potters Hollow, or at least to any fifth grade student. Doug especially remembered the day she took him aside and told him that she knew his secret. She knew he was really smart. Doug’s face hid any agreement he may have entertained, but he knew she was right and it scared him.
He lived life at arms' length behind a brick wall of fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of glory. This day he took arms against his troubles and rode the bullet train through the fear and reached toward the light. He would be free at last.