• She’d waited by the phone for seventeen hours, eleven minutes, and forty two seconds. She’d fallen asleep twice, and then gotten up to take the pills she took like clockwork every six hours and thirty minutes. She was just waiting for him to call so that she could tell him that everything was all right, that it had all just been a misunderstanding. She’d never meant to tell him that she never wanted to see him again.

    Tala sighed and looked at the clock. It had been a while since she’d lifted her head to look at it. Eighteen hours were gone. She tried to remember what had set off this argument. She’d come home late, and had caught James sneaking pot out of the house to smoke with his girlfriend. Tala got mad, and James got violent. He pushed her and told her that she was just a little sister, that she had to be quiet about it, or he’d tell mom and dad that she was home late. Tala swore at him and spit in his face, and cried that she never wanted to see his face for as long as she lived.

    He’d left without another word.

    Now, eleven days, eighteen hours –nineteen now-, and ten minutes later, Tala was waiting for him to call. He called every Tuesday, but he’d missed last week…probably because he was mad. Tala needed that schedule to keep her sane, to keep her from breaking. So she’d called him eleven times, once for each day, but didn’t leave a message until the very last one, the call that came at eleven fifty two p.m. on Monday night. The message was simple.

    “You have twenty four hours and eight minutes.” Then, Tala had set herself up in her room next to the phone, staring down the barrel of the loaded 9 millimeter that her father kept in the house. She hadn’t eaten, had only napped, and got up for the bathroom, and to take her pills. That was it. She was waiting for her Tuesday call.

    James was too high to pick up the phone, stuck in his own world of smoke and mirrors that his girlfriend provided for him whenever she was around. Sure, he’d heard Tala’s message, but he’d been so faded into the background and so busy with his girlfriend that he’d ignored the message.

    He knew he was wrong to call her back so late.

    Twenty three hours, fifty nine minutes, and forty nine seconds.

    Fifty, fifty one, fifty two. Tala swallowed, exhaled, and turned off the safety of the gun. Fifty five, fifty six. She smiled and turned her eyes to God. Fifty nine, sixty. It was Wednesday. Tala laughed and cried as she squeezed her eyes shut and pulled her finger back on the trigger. She could hear the gun click as it rotated to steal her life. It made her laugh harder, cry louder when the bullet hit her in the back of her throat.

    She promised him twenty-four hours, and when his time was up, she pulled the trigger. The phone rang in the basement fifty six minutes later.

    “Tala? It’s James. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.” The call back was his mother to tell him that Tala’s vigil would be held next Tuesday, and to bring her favorite scented candles.

    James spent all night crying.