Self-awareness is worse than death

Posted: 2011 in Post: 11.5
Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, April 2, 9:52 a.m.

From his hospital bed, Jack says, “You are a murderer.”

“Me? No!” I protest. “I’ve never killed anyone in my life!”

“You killed my wife,” he says.

“The Green River Killer—I mean, the Westgate Serial Killer murdered her,” I say.

Above the oxygen tube in his nose, Jack’s blue eyes are steady.

“No, you killed her. You could have let me get to her in time, but you made her die before I got there.”

“Yeah…” I admit.

“Why?”

“I needed you to be a widower,” I say.

“For the book?” he says.

I nod.

“Isn’t that the most goddamned simplistic choice of all?” he says.

“I…I don’t know.”

He struggles to sit up. His face is clotted with fury.

“If you’d let her live, do you realize how much less two-dimensional and gimmicky this whole thing would have been?”

“No?” I say.

“Think about it!” he shouts. His heart monitor trills an alarm for a moment. He bites the inside of his cheek and waits until the noise subsides. “You killed my wife. You surrounded me with insubstantial characters. You gave me some vaguely sketched serial killer as an antagonist. And then…what? You decided you’d like to jump on board, too?”

“So what, Jack?” I snap. “So I should have let your wife survive? Is that your whole point?”

“Yes!” he rages. “You did this to me. You made me a bad father and a second rate journalist and an alcoholic, and it all started with her death. Change it!”

“How? Some kind of deus ex machina bullshit? A magic happy ending? Is that what you’re asking for? ”

“Let me get to her in time,” he says. “That’s what I’m asking for. Please.”

He’s not shouting anymore. His face is twisted, but not in anger—in agony. He reaches for my hand. His fingers are dead white and shaking. I pull my hand away before he can touch it.

“Please, Katherine. You owe me—own me. You promised you’d help me. Just change it. Nothing else. Please?”

“Jack—”

“Please, Katherine. Please.”

I sigh long and hard and defeated. Spine is right. I have too much sympathy for my protagonist.

 

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