A Fair Share

by Ashley Naftule

Donovan woke up at five. He normally didn’t get up so early, but it seemed like a waste of air to sleep in on the day of his suffocation. He had twelve hours of airtime left, and he intended to put every last breath to good use.

He had already programmed his secretary to send out his farewells one hour after his lungs were scheduled to close down. He told himself that he did this because he didn’t have enough time to say goodbye, not because he couldn’t bear the thought of hearing their voices again. Mom, Samantha, Little Bob, Doctor Ray—Sirens that could lure him off course, and he had run out of masts to tie himself to.

He spent the first two hours walking around the city, stopping at his favorite cafe for a cup of coffee and a raspberry scone. The man at the counter took one look at Donovan’s throat and smiled sadly: it’s on the house, he said. Donovan looked at all the people around him, seeing their flushed cheeks and the green lights on their chokers. The people whose credit ratings were still good enough to get unrestricted access to oxygen, who didn’t have to justify getting their fair share of the atmosphere. What little of it was left.

He wanted to hate them all, to imagine them flopping on the floor of the coffeeshop gasping for air like a fish cast from the sea, but he couldn’t hold onto the spite for long. Their colors would change soon enough.

He walked through the park, past the city’s bottle trees. He got to the bench facing the statue of melted rifles and sat down, wincing at the sight of the mangled tribute. For the first time since he got the notice of his cut-off date, he was happy that death was coming so soon: at least he would never have to look at this ugly fucking thing again.

He patted the underside of the bench; the box was there. His contact at the chemlabs had come through.

Donovan walked out of the park, past the children gawking at the ring of statues in the Cemetery Zoo. The tigers, elephants, gorillas, and pandas, standing at attention with their angel wings spread wide, basking in the pink light shining from the children’s necks. All the beasts left off the Ark so Noah would have the air to himself.

He ate meat loaf for lunch. It wasn’t nearly as good as his Mom’s but it would have to do. He drank two beers, savoring their sour aftertaste. In the bathroom he inspected the contents of the box. He trusted his connection, but he needed to be sure. It was all there: shiny, black, round and precise. He could feel the mechanism turn in his hands. Washing up afterwards, he saw that the light in his choker had gone from blue to white. It wouldn’t be long now.

He walked to the edge of the city, the box in his hands growing heavy with the rest of his body. He saw Heaven in the distance, the hills dotted with mansions where the gods lived fat and happy off their money and their limitless air supply.

If Samantha could see him now, limping up these hills with a box full of propaganda by the deed, she would have laughed. All those years he spent mocking her radical books, and now here he was writing a new chapter. All it took to make me red was turning blue, Donovan thought. He chuckled as he turned on the mechanism.

A few more steps and he would be in range: if his math was right, it would consume everything on the hills. There would be plenty of air left over for the lower depths. For Samantha. Mom. Little Bob. Doctor Ray. The man at the counter. The children gazing up at the statues. Everybody would get their fair share. Donovan breathed in and pushed.

Ashley Naftule is a Phoenix-based writer and performer who bears an uncanny resemblance to country singer Vince Gill. He’s the Associate Artistic Director at Space55 theatre; his favorite Marx brothers are Chico & Karl.
%d bloggers like this: