Tag Archives: The Pluperfect Moment

‘The Pluperfect Moment’ by Andrew Bradford

Though she understands it’ll all be done soon, there is still hesitation as she looks at the pills on the coffee table and considers what will be written to describe what has taken place in this tiny apartment just north of the city.

Everything has led to this moment, she whispers into her contracting soul as she rubs her fingers across the multicolored tablets and pours a glass of vodka. In just 28 short years every signpost has brought her to this irrevocable sliver in time which is now hers and hers alone.

So many mistakes, so much unintended pain, starting with the way her father left when she was too young to even know what he was doing. She had felt him close to her some nights in her bed, mumbling that he loved her as he removed her pajamas and pressed his sweaty hands to her body. She had wanted to scream, but no sounds came from her other than a grunt when he touched her in a place that had never before been subjected to such feelings. It was not wrong, he told her, as long as it made him feel good. It was not wrong to need, to have feelings that had to be quenched. It was not wrong, but it felt that way.

She still recalls the way her mother would stumble down the hallway as she made her way to her own bedroom long after daddy had left. Mother had been drinking something in a glass all day and weeping from time to time as she refilled her glass, but it had nothing to do with children, so she tried to pretend it was not really happening as best she could.

All those nights of adolescent pain spent alone because she was not one of the cool, the special, the beautiful. She was just average, and that was simply not good enough. She was not good enough, she came to believe. Never had been; never could be. As her father had once told her, You are only good for one thing. How horribly correct he had been. The proof was visible in the way others ignored her.

Shaking her head now, she picks up one of the pills and washes it down with a healthy swig of the vodka in her glass. She feels the tablet as it swims down her throat and the certainty of the moment is so clear that it makes her laugh. Sitting there in the semidarkness, laughing like a madwoman. What a sight! God, I am so fucking pathetic, she tells herself, and that calls for yet another pill, yet another long drink.

Maybe it was all better in the past, buried somewhere back in what has already been and will never return except in memories. All those memories hurtful, devoid of any lightness or pleasure. She sought pleasure once, long before she gave up the scavenger hunt for something she now realizes has never, will never exist for her. Someone must be experiencing pleasure somewhere in some unseen room and some untold time long since forgotten. Perhaps that was the real problem: She had been born too late, or too soon, or had been born at all. Such questions of existential import no longer interest her.

Another tablet, another drink, but this time she begins to choke as she tries to swallow, sees the tiny clouds of pain and fear blooming in her eyes as her life begins to roll before what remains of her willing consciousness. Imagine the irony, she thinks: Wanted to go out with pills and wind up choking to death instead. God, what a horrible thought! Does that mean she wants to live? Is this a renunciation of the wish she has had for months now? Could there be a glimmer of clinging to her life at this late hour? She is down on the carpeted floor beating her fists against the sofa, fighting to breathe, attempting to invalidate her once perfect ending…choking…rasping…praying for just a moment of air…then lighter, sensation of having been remade in time and space into a feather that is floating down, down, so calm…all is quiet….

When she awakens, her eyes slowly adjust to the light, focus, comprehend the nurse standing before her as she intones:

Miss Smithson, you’re in the recovery room. Just take deep breaths. Your surgery is complete. We’ll be taking you to back to your room in a few minutes. Deep breaths now. Deep breaths.

To which she can only manage to think, My God, I failed again.

Copyright 2015 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.