Another one from last year’s Pica pica challenge, this time the word was “gulps”. Not much to say about it, except that I am at least semi-fond of it…
Gulps. Long, thirsty gulps. Feverish; fervent with the knowledge that these will be their last. Urgently, longingly, they swallow deeply, and deeply, and deeper still.
The custodians at first take no notice, preoccupied with last night’s game and the oscillating glow of their cigarettes. Then, as the ward keeps drinking gulp after gulp after gulp, they react with an awkward mirth, tainted with droplets of pity, at the futile gesture of the condemned. They wait, not knowing what to do. The convict’s abdomen swells absurdly under the dirty shirt: each swallow sends a wave rolling, stirring the coarse fabric.
At long last — a minute? an eternity? — one of the lot steps forth and tells the prisoner: Enough! But they do not react. The water flowing in steady, soothing gulps down their throat is all they know, and all they care to know. The wardens then attempt to forcibly remove the condemned, but somehow tap and wretched drinker are now inseparable. The officer looks at the timepiece. It is dawned already. Reluctantly, the men are ordered to form a firing line, there and then. The convict — oblivious, swollen — drinks, each gulp bringing visions of unbridled torrents seeking the open ocean, the untamed and untainted horizon.
As the officer shouts the order they open their eyes. They see the bullets find a home in their, pale, ballooning belly. They feel themself explode, their skin torn asunder, the inner pressure released with such a passion as they had never before experienced: a wall of water, bile and blood will rise, a surging tide long withheld.