I sat on the couch of my one bedroom apartment twiddling my thumbs nervously. My friends were all out celebrating the New Year but here I sat in solitude. The table in front of me was cleared of all the usual clutter, all swept aside violently. I set my revolver down on its dark oak finish. I closed my eyes and began to remember.

It was April 22nd. I had opened the door to my apartment despite both arms burdened with grocery bags. My girlfriend was sitting on the couch facing the doorway. She was in her light blue flannel pajamas and one of my oversized t-shirts, tears streaming through her black mascara. I dropped the bags on the floor and jumped onto the couch beside her. She grabbed onto me and squeezed as hard as she could manage.

“Baby, what’s wrong?”

She looked up at me with innocent doe eyes. She sniffled a few times trying to compose herself then broke down again.

“I was raped.”

A surreal shockwave overtook me. I had tunnel vision, not much else mattered.. No, nothing else mattered. I held her in my arms and she told me how it happened. How she was walking back to her car when a man grabbed her from behind. How he shoved her into a narrow alleyway. How he forced himself on her.

And worst of all, how no one heard her screams for help.

I kissed her forehead and pressed her face against mine. She recoiled instinctively. I told her everything would be okay, and she agreed. It seemed to bring her comfort.

But nothing was okay.

I found her dead in the bathroom the next night. Overdosed on pills. Her family scolded me during the funeral.

“You could have kept her from going through with it.”

“You should have been stronger.”

“Where were you?”

That last one hurt more than the rest. I wonder that myself sometimes when I’m alone with my thoughts. Where was I? On the night she was raped I was standing in the checkout line at Safeway. When she killed herself I was in the other room sleeping. I could have kept her from going through with it, I should have been stronger.

I opened my eyes once again and looked down at the table. The gun always haunted me, teasing me with an escape. Tears and beads of sweat fell from my face onto my lap. With a trembling hand I grabbed the gun. It was cold to the touch, emotionless and comforting. With the answer so close, the words rushed into my brain.

“Where were you?”

“Where were you?”

“Where were you?”