I have: Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, four different kinds of salad dressing: Creamy Italian, Italian, Parmesan Italian, and Light Balsamic Vinaigrette; barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, sofrito, ketchup, sweet pepper relish, pesto, Sriracha, and things I don’t even know I have way in the back where I never look.
I want to make the bullet sandwich with condiments I don’t particularly like, so I won’t enjoy it when I eat it. I don’t like ketchup; I get that for my kids for their hamburgers and French fries; I think ketchup is too ordinary; all the strange stuff is what I like, and I make them eat it when I cook. Not that I cook much. Mostly it’s frozen food, if you consider that cooking. I liked living in Brazil where we could afford servants, but we are back in the States now where no ordinary people can have them, and if you could spare the money, you would be ashamed to tell anyone that you paid someone to make your own kids dinner. Cleaning the house is a different story, and nobody balks at comparing notes about their housekeepers, which countries they are from, who does the floors the best, and what they charge, and if they’re worth it. I miss living in a country where I was anonymous and didn’t have to talk with my kids’ friend’s parents. Americans are so tedious.
I can’t take the world, that’s why I’m doing it, that’s why I’m making the bullet sandwich with ketchup and yellow mustard between two pieces of Wonder Bread; yes, Wonder bread sucks, but I have it in my house, and I do give it to my kids because that’s part of childhood, just like Spaghettios, and Kool Aid, and Cocoa Krispies. I thought if we lived abroad too long, my kids would grow up to be strange and deprived, and I didn’t want that to happen, even though now I am making myself a bullet sandwich and will most likely die, and my kids will definitely not be normal, but it won’t matter because I will be dead.
I bought the gun two states away, in a place where you can buy guns, where people don’t ask too many questions. I sauntered into Walmart, nonchalantly; I told the guy I wanted to protect myself and I bought a gun. He put the box in a bag; I paid cash, and left; I put it in the glove compartment, because that’s the only place for a gun, and drove within the speed limit to go two states, back home to where I belong, the state where I was born, and where I would die, even though I had seen a lot of the world, and I would have seen more, if I were not going to eat a bullet sandwich on a bright May day.
I wanted to be a writer; I tried and tried, and people told me I had talent; I went to a premier writing school, and I thought I could get my book published, but I got rejected, not once, but twice, and I didn’t think I could handle a third rejection. I can’t stand people telling me what’s wrong with my writing. I’m not a bad person, and I’m not a good person; I’m just a weird person, and I don’t see things the same way as everyone else. I wanted to be brilliant and special, but I will never be anything because I am going to die.
My husband won’t care that I’m gone, my kids won’t either, they never pay attention to me, and what I want from life. Some people tell me I have too much time on my hands, and that I should get out more, but I don’t know where would I go; I have nowhere to go. I taught a class, and I believed my students liked me, but it’s over, and I will never see my students again, and I won’t know what their destinies will be.
Sometimes I see dragons in the dark; I can hear them calling my name, over and over. It would be better to be dead after all, no more worries, no more making dinner with greasy food the kids like, and cleaning the dishes and doing laundry, making sure everyone looks respectable for school, and Grandma’s house on Saturday. I can’t hear the sounds of the bells if I close my ears, if it’s possible to close our ears, like we do our eyes.
I am in a small hotel in the suburbs of town, I have my ketchup and mustard; I decided against the Wonder Bread, too messy; I put them in my mouth. I think of all the things I will never get to do, but I also think of all the things I have done, and the whole world flashes by, in a yellow and red haze.
I lift the gun to my face.
I don’t know if I have the nerve.
I lower the gun. I can’t do it; I swallow the ketchup and mustard, what a stupid idea, to drown the taste of the bullet with condiments; who the hell would have ever thought of something so ridiculous.
I am the dumbest person alive.
I fill my mouth once more with the ketchup and mustard.
I put the gun to my mouth.
This time I don’t hesitate. I eat the bullet sandwich.
I am a Happy Meal queen in outer space, ready to take on the world, or what’s left of it.
About the Author
Shannon O’Connor holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. She has been previously published in Wordgathering, and also has work in Oddball Magazine, The Wilderness House Literary Review, The New Engagement, and elsewhere. O’Connor lives in the Boston area, and can be found sharing her opinions on her blog, mshenreviewsthings.blogspot.com.