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"Do you have any last words?" asks the warden.
  His words echo against the concrete walls behind me. In front of me is a sea of gawkers, like I was the zoo's featured exhibit, the man strapped to an upright bed. What are they hoping to see? At some point, I would no longer move. They would see nothing, just the absence of movement. I close my eyes.
  "Just call in sick," Emma had said while touching my cheek. She had tilted her head to the side and batted her eyes as we stood in the doorway.
  My heart raced with her touch. "Honey, I can't. I've already used all my sick days," I said. I kissed my wife on her cheek, then rested my face against hers. I inhaled her scent.
  She popped up on her toes, wrapped her arms over my shoulders and whispered in my ear, "It's our anniversary. Don't you still love me?"
  "Stop." I pulled back and looked into her eyes. "Come on, we just talked about this last night. I'll be home by six, and then we can celebrate. I love you more than anything." I pulled her back in and kissed her.
  We had been first loves since high school. Married three months after graduation, and still lived in the same small city. Emma stayed home to raise our three year old daughter. For this week, for our anniversary, our daughter stayed with Emma's mother.
  I actually was able to take sick leave. I secretly rented a log cabin for us to celebrate our love and marriage. I would get flowers and then return to surprise my wife.
  I pulled the dozen red roses from my car and slowly closed the door. I used the tips of my fingers to push open the front door and imagined the surprise and thrill on my wife's face. My palms sweated from anticipation. I wondered if I should try to sneak up behind her or simply yell out.
  I left the front door cracked open to prevent sound giveaways. Emma was nowhere to be found downstairs. Maybe she went back to sleep.
  I crept up the stairs, using my hand against the wall for balance, and believed I heard the TV playing in our room. I took a deep breath and then slowly pushed the door open. Jacob, a mutual friend since his high school, was laying naked on top of my wife. They were oblivious to my presence.
  My hand went to my hip. The stippling felt like sandpaper in my hand. I thought about the two hours I spent modifying the grip of my Smith & Wesson. The additional dots dug into my hand.
  Jacob fell forward, with a barely visible hole in his back. Blood from his chest burst onto Emma. I saw the image of my daughter, a soon to be orphan, in Emma's face. I pulled the trigger again. The second hole appeared to make no difference, Jacob was no longer moving.
  Emma covered her face and screamed. The trigger pulled back. I worried whether my daughter would find the bodies first. I considered calling my mother-in-law. A small hole appeared in her throat. She pulled her hands down. The sparkling ring triggered the memory of my marriage proposal. Emma had spent the day at the spa, then dinner at our favorite restaurant. The blood streamed between her fingers and covered the ring, pulling me back into the moment.
  Too high. I still cared enough to not want my wife to have a closed casket funeral. Two more holes appeared in her chest.
  I open my eyes. The warden nods, and the other officers rotate my bed to be horizontal to the floor. From the glass reflection, I see the warden press a button.





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