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datatime: 2022-12-01 00:57:37 Author:TlqiuVBl

Give me the flashlight, Richard.

Why? He studied my face like he'd memorize it.

I shrugged. Maybe, but I still have to do it.

Why? and the anger was more than a faint hint now.

He shook his head. This isn't courage, Anita, this is stubbornness.

Why? He studied my face like he'd memorize it.

To me, Richard, I have something left to prove to me.

Because it scares me, and I have to know if I can.

Then why do it?

Just to see if I can.

Why? and his voice held the first hint of anger, like a slap of warmth.

He shook his head. I let this happen. I'll get him out.

I looked at him, at the puzzlement in his face, his eyes, which had bled back to their normal, perfect brown. I'd been trying to explain shit like this to Richard for a few years now. I finally realized that he would never understand and I was tired of trying to explain myself, not just to Richard, to everybody.

He shook his head. This isn't courage, Anita, this is stubbornness.

And I can taste fresh blood on yours, but I have to do it because it scares me.

Why? He studied my face like he'd memorize it.

Just to see if I can.

He knelt beside me and spoke softly, I can smell your fear. I know you don't like close places.

He shook his head. I let this happen. I'll get him out.

I sighed. Less and less scares me, Richard. So when I find something that does bother me, I have to test it. I have to see if I can do it.

He held on with both hands. Why do you have to do this? Just tell me that. You're so scared your mouth is dry. I can taste it on your breath.

What difference would it make if you couldn't climb down in that stinking hole? You'll never have to do it again, Anita. Just don't do it.

I stared back into the hole and let myself acknowledge just how afraid I was. So afraid that I could taste something flat and metallic on my tongue. So afraid that my pulse was hammering in my throat, like a trapped thing. My voice came out calm, normal. I was glad. It doesn't matter that I'm afraid. I touched the flashlight, tried to pull it from his hand, but he held on. And, short of playing tug of war -- which I would probably lose -- I wasn't getting it away from him.

I shook my head. I'm not competing with you, Richard, or anyone else. I don't give a shit who's better or faster or braver.

Then why do it?

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