Debbie pushed herself up to a sitting position and shimmied to the edge of the bed. She raised her eyes to the window, where the sun hit the frost-tinted glass and exploded in delight. In the kitchen, her mother sang out bits and pieces of the overplayed perky pop song of the week. The bangs, rattles, and sizzle of breakfast provided the percussion for the music.
Thinking ahead, Debbie inventoried what the day had in store for her: a riding lesson this morning, followed by motivational talks to kids at some local schools, then ski practice–the last one before the big competition this weekend. Her chance to go to the Big Games. The coach was already talking about gold.
Getting gold, winning the blue ribbon, being the best. An inspiration. A role model. That’s all they ever talked about: her parents, her coaches, her trainers. She sighed, exhausted just thinking about it. Oh, to be average. Typical. Normal.
Her hand, seeming to move of its own accord, grabbed the prescription pills on the nightstand. The orange plastic bottle glowed in the sunlight. Her mind wandered through the scenario again: her mother’s scream when she found her, dead. No. More likely, unconscious in a puddle of her own vomit. The risk of failure was too high. She put the pills down.
She’d read about soaking in water warmed to body temperature, and slitting one’s wrists beneath the surface. The wet warmth tricked your brain into not recognizing the bleeding. “Just like going to sleep,” the website said. But then her mother or her sister would be left to deal with the trauma of that sight, her body submerged in the red water. She couldn’t do that to them.
Her father’s shotgun, pointed up under her jaw, had potential. She could put a garbage bag over her head–one of the big black ones, not a clear one—so the mess would be contained. Easy to clean up, nothing to see. That might work.
“Debbie! Breakfast is ready,” her mother called. “I made your favorite. Blueberry pancakes.”
Debbie donned the bra and shirt her mother had laid out for her. She scooted into her sweatpants, and unzipped the legs up the side. Drawing in a deep breath, she leaned over, winced. One arm pushed into the mattress to keep her from tipping over. She pulled her left prosthetic leg into position. Once secured, she fit the right leg into place. Pushing with her well-muscled arms and contracting her abs, she stood.
She eyed the pill bottle one last time. One more hollow victory to add to the list, another chance to stand out. Maybe tomorrow.