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datatime: 2022-12-04 00:46:46 Author:lGYRHYBJ

I held my hand out for the flashlight.

I shook my head. I have to do it, Richard.

He shook his head. I let this happen. I'll get him out.

I stared back into the hole and let myself acknowledge just how afraid I was. So afraid that I could taste something flat and metallic on my tongue. So afraid that my pulse was hammering in my throat, like a trapped thing. My voice came out calm, normal. I was glad. It doesn't matter that I'm afraid. I touched the flashlight, tried to pull it from his hand, but he held on. And, short of playing tug of war -- which I would probably lose -- I wasn't getting it away from him.

I shook my head. No. He's mine.

I shrugged. Maybe, but I still have to do it.

Why? and his voice held the first hint of anger, like a slap of warmth.

Give me the flashlight, Richard.

I shook my head. No. He's mine.

I shook my head. I'm not competing with you, Richard, or anyone else. I don't give a shit who's better or faster or braver.

Why? He studied my face like he'd memorize it.

He held on with both hands. Why do you have to do this? Just tell me that. You're so scared your mouth is dry. I can taste it on your breath.

What difference would it make if you couldn't climb down in that stinking hole? You'll never have to do it again, Anita. Just don't do it.

Why? He studied my face like he'd memorize it.

He shook his head. This isn't courage, Anita, this is stubbornness.

I shrugged. Maybe, but I still have to do it.

And I can taste fresh blood on yours, but I have to do it because it scares me.

I looked at him, at the puzzlement in his face, his eyes, which had bled back to their normal, perfect brown. I'd been trying to explain shit like this to Richard for a few years now. I finally realized that he would never understand and I was tired of trying to explain myself, not just to Richard, to everybody.

Then why do it?

Why do you have to be the toughest, the bravest? Why can't you, just once, let me do something for you? Going down in the hole doesn't scare me. Let me do this for you. Please. His voice was still soft, and he was leaning into me enough so that I could smell the drying blood on him, the richness of fresh blood in his mouth, as if some small cut had not healed completely.

He held on with both hands. Why do you have to do this? Just tell me that. You're so scared your mouth is dry. I can taste it on your breath.

I looked at him, at the puzzlement in his face, his eyes, which had bled back to their normal, perfect brown. I'd been trying to explain shit like this to Richard for a few years now. I finally realized that he would never understand and I was tired of trying to explain myself, not just to Richard, to everybody.

I shook my head. No. He's mine.

I looked at him, at the puzzlement in his face, his eyes, which had bled back to their normal, perfect brown. I'd been trying to explain shit like this to Richard for a few years now. I finally realized that he would never understand and I was tired of trying to explain myself, not just to Richard, to everybody.

Why do you have to be the toughest, the bravest? Why can't you, just once, let me do something for you? Going down in the hole doesn't scare me. Let me do this for you. Please. His voice was still soft, and he was leaning into me enough so that I could smell the drying blood on him, the richness of fresh blood in his mouth, as if some small cut had not healed completely.

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