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The Suicide Calendar
by Michael C. Keith

Why take life seriously? You’ll never get out of it alive.

                                                                         –– Elbert Hubbard

Back when Avery Mandel was feeling really low, he designated a date when he would take his life if things didn’t improve. Unfortunately they hadn’t by the time the date arrived, but he couldn’t bring himself to end his life. His finger froze on the gun’s trigger as he held the barrel in his mouth, and after several minutes he gave up on the idea . . . for the moment.

Later that same afternoon, Avery decided on another date to kill himself––this one a month hence. However, when that date arrived, he still couldn’t do it. Goddamn it, you pathetic coward. You don’t want to live, but you haven’t got the gumption to take action to change things, he thought, feeling more depressed than ever.

This went on for months until Avery reached the breaking point.

“Okay, I’ll definitely do it on the 31st of December, my birthday,” he decided and marked that date on the calendar.

On the first day of his 39th year, he rose and went to his desk where he stored his 38-caliber handgun.

“This is it. I’m really going to do it this time. Life is just a misery, and I can’t take it anymore,” he mumbled, placing the gun to his temple. “It’s now or never, Avery. Things are never going to get better for me . . . not if I live to be a hundred.”

Avery pressed the trigger, but nothing happened. He dropped to his knees gasping for air and trembling. Oh, my God! I’m not dead, he thought, and then realized he had not loaded the gun.

“Son of a bitch, I’m screwed now!” he cried, dropping his pistol. “I don’t have a new calendar.”