It stormed that day-—or at least, it was supposed to. He had planned everything to be perfect: the lighting, the polished metal surface of the gun, where his insides would spill out, and most of all, the weather. “Weather can make or break any scene.”—he had learned that in drama class. It was dark in his bedroom. One could hardly see the drops of sweat on his hands and on the gun. They weren’t from nervousness or sorrow—he was totally disconnected and most of his mind didn’t see that the significance of what he was planning—but he had tried to make the scene as dramatic as possible.

He glanced at the clock. “Five more minutes,” he thought. “Then it’s finished. No more of Jenny—she’ll be pretty damn sorry that she insulted me when she hears about this.” He picked up the phone and dialed Time & Weather, just to make sure that everything would be perfect. The phone rang.

The doorknob turned a bit and his sister walked in. “Just six years old,” he thought. “So young… I hope she’ll never have to deal with things like this.” For a moment he felt guilty about leaving her like this, without a friend in the world. Then he toughened up again, and rationalized that she was old enough to take care of herself. But he didn’t believe it.

"Go away!” he said. She looked at him, and he noticed that she had been crying. Guilt bit at his heart again. “I just want to look out your window…”, she sobbed. “Fine, just don’t touch anything.”

“Thanks for calling Time & Weather. We’ll have your forecast in a moment!” The phone called out, forever cheery. His sister gazed out the window, eyes glazed in silent reflection.

"Here’s a great deal on groceries, books, videos, and more!” She turned away from the window and walked towards the gun.

“All you need for great savings wherever you shop in the Quincy area is a WXYZ listener key-tag!” She reached down towards the pistol. “I said don’t touch anything!” he barked.

“Just swipe your key tag wherever you shop, and instant savings are yours!” She picked up the firearm, her finger slipping into the contoured trigger. “What’s this?” she asked. He dove across the room to take it from her. “Call 1-800-841-2829, that’s 1-800-841-2829 to get yours today!” Now she was looking down the muzzle. He grabbed the gun from her.

And now for your forecast…” Her finger slipped out of the trigger, pushing it forward. There was a deafening noise, and the gun fired.

“Today’s forecast: cloudy with a 100% chance of storms.” He was shot in the neck. He fell to the ground as his vision blurred. He knew he would die.

“The temperature is 74 degrees Fahrenheit.” He could barely make out the tears running down her face as she screamed for Mother.

“Time: 4:41 and thirty-three seconds.” The world slipped away from him in a red haze.

“Time: 4:41 and thirty-three seconds.” He lay cold and lifeless on the ground.

“Time: 4:41 and thirty-three seconds.” The medics arrived and pronounced him dead.

And all throughout the screams and sobs, the machine repeated “Time: 4:41 and thirty-three seconds.” in its cheerily empty monotone.

No one thought to hang up the phone. It was on its on separate line and no one noticed. “Time: 4:41 and thirty-three seconds.”

During the funeral: “Time: 4:41 and thirty-three seconds.”

As the casket was placed in the ground: “Time: 4:41 and thirty-three seconds.”

Once everyone had left, though, and he lay in the ground, cold and dead, the machine moved on.

Thank you for calling! Goodbye.”

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