Ava started to crawl toward the man in the distance. She attempted to stand only to tumble back down as the pain in her feet shot through her legs. She was undeterred. She clawed her feet into the dirt, embedding small pebbles under her toes, and pressed up onto her feet and wobbled across the desert floor.
In that agonizing walk, her hope for relief pushed her forward. She didn’t understand how or why her father was there but she knew if she could collapse into her father’s arms everything would be alright. She was exhausted, her body ached in pain and she didn’t know how she could keep going, but she knew she had to. She kept walking, torturous step after torturous step and she realized her dad wasn’t getting any closer. For every step forward, he appeared to be just on the horizon.
“Why doesn’t he come to me?” she wondered. Nothing made sense to her. She did not understand how her dead father could be in this desert. She did not understand how she got so far into the desert without remembering any of it.
She became more aware of her surroundings. She realized no wind blew, no sounds entered her ears and no life could be seen in any direction. She felt a sense of finality. And in an instant, like turning on a light switch in a dark room, she remembered she didn’t leave the casino.
Ava saw Brad, and all the voices in her head went silent. She walked away, calmly and quietly, and rode the escalator down from the mezzanine to the main floor. She walked through the crowd, bumping into drunken gamblers and receiving a few expletives on her way to the man in the gray suit. She approached him calmly and gently placed her hand on his shoulder. He turned around to face her. Ava slowly leaned in closer and closer until her face rested inches from his. Completely hypnotized by her cobra like stare, he did not realize that she was sliding the nearly empty beer bottle out of his hand into hers. Once the bottle was securely in her grip, she whispered into his ear, “Thank you,” and walked calmly to the nearest table. In one fluid motion, she smashed the bottle against the table’s edge and grated the broken glass across her throat. She fell as a river of blood flowed over her dress. She heard a single woman scream before her head hit the floor. Then the world became a blur. As she looked out onto the carpet that was now soaked in her blood, she couldn’t help but grin thinking about how grossed out the mere sight of the carpet made her and now that carpet would be her final resting place. She attempted to take one last breath, but the blood in her throat dammed her airways as she began to drown.
The memory of her final moment of life made it all too clear where she was. And she accepted her reality but she decided, that in death, unlike in life, she would not lose hope. Hope was just on the horizon, in the arms of her father, and she resolved to get there.
With each step, the eagerness to feel the embrace of her father grew. Her will transformed her walk into a run.
In the midst of the desert, carrying the emotional weight of all her darkest memories, experiencing unbearable pain throughout her body, Ava ran.
Ava ran toward that silhouette in the distance. Ava ran toward what she knew would be her loving father waiting to embrace her.
She ran toward her hope, her relief and her peace.
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