Her All Along by Cara Dee

One





Avery Becker





I could be the guy who blew his brains out to the soft notes of “God Only Knows,” a song that’d played on repeat in my head on and off for years. A song that mocked me wherever I went. A song I’d heard when I was little and hiding in a closet with my brother.

“Do it,” I whispered.

I sucked in a breath and pressed the barrel to my temple.

Do it, do it, do it.

My reflection in the bathroom mirror caused my hand to tremble, and I promptly screwed my eyes shut. This could all be over if I only had the balls to pull the trigger. History would be wiped clean. I’d feel no more hatred. I would be gone. Erased. Would I find peace? Or would I just…fade into nothingness?

Do it, do it, do it.

A rushing sound thundered in my ears. My throat closed up. Fuck—it would be over. Wasn’t that what I’d craved for as long as I could remember? The rage wasn’t even the worst of it. This sense of confusion and loss, being lost, constantly wondering, was what I couldn’t live with. I didn’t fucking understand myself. I didn’t know who I was other than a box of crippling emotions. I had no identity. I was hatred personified, and hatred was ugly. Vile.

I was vile.

Do it.

I could put a stop to the song, permanently.

“You coward.” My eyes burned behind closed lids. The memory of my mother telling me what a coward I was rolled through my mind—as if I needed the reminder. “It would be over.” I tensed up as I brushed my finger over the trigger. “Do it.” You’re almost there.

But what if…

A strangled sound escaped me, and a tear rolled down my cheek.

“Avery?” Two taps on the door followed my soon-to-be-ex-wife’s voice. “Are you almost done? I have to shower.”

The air was knocked out of my lungs in defeat. Lowering my hand, I opened my eyes again and stared at my pathetic reflection, my chest heaving. What was wrong with me? I clenched my jaw. Hating, hating, hating. I felt like I’d run a marathon.

“Yeah.” Exhaustion took over. Today wasn’t the day I killed myself. “Be right out.” The revolver went back into the cupboard under the sink. It was time to get ready. A new day. We were meeting with our divorce lawyers.





The blows kept on fucking coming. I dodged left, only to get a knee in the gut. Then I ducked right, and he was on me like a freight train. Jesus. I coughed, pain radiating from my rib cage.

“Come on.” Darius grinned.

Wiping my forehead, I jumped up again and charged. Sweat poured down and caused my beater to stick to my skin.

I welcomed each punch and did everything I could to return them.

I succeeded sometimes.

He’d long since given up on teaching me actual rules and styles. I suspected since he was so good at boxing, he didn’t worry because he could take me without much effort. And so, he let me come at him with rage fueling me and a complete disregard for how it was done.

To be fair, he didn’t play by the rules with me either.

“Motherfucker.” He chuckled through a groan when I managed to jab him twice in the face. “You’re a good brawler, I’ll give ya that. Bad day?”

“You could say that.”

I gnashed my teeth.

I hissed and flew back, Darius’s gloved hand splitting my bottom lip open.

“I have work tomorrow,” I barked. Explaining a busted lip wouldn’t be a walk in the park.

He laughed, out of breath, and we took a break to get some water. “You’re something else, Ave. You’re shit at technique, but damn, you keep getting up.”

I leaned back against the ropes of the boxing ring and reached for my towel. I wasn’t bleeding too much.

When you’d been born on a battlefield, suffering was as natural as breathing. Darius’s uppercut, no matter how hard he delivered it, was nothing.





Half an hour later, Darius and I were sweating buckets in the sauna.

“Shouldn’t you be off work for the semester soon?” he asked.

“Friday’s the last day.” I scrubbed my hands over my face, willing the tension of the day to just leave me already.

This summer was going to be interesting. It was the first year I didn’t have summer school. I’d have two months off before I returned, and once again, I was struck with disbelief at the sheer stupidity of kids today. Especially the privileged little shits I taught.