Every Last Breath - Jessica Gaffney

“Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.”

Matthew 8:22

Every Last


Jessica Gaffney


To Navi, whose spirit and love lives on!


I’m not the only wife who’s fantasized about killing her husband. In fact I can’t even recall the first time the thought wandered across my mind. The notion was just there like presents nestled under a sparkling Christmas tree. At first, I’m sure the idea only fluttered through my head, it may have even startled me. But then the thoughts became pleasant and I grew comfortable with them.

I can’t say I planned on it happening, it sort of just did. I played out scenarios in my head and dreamt of a life without him; a life that was peaceful.

The idea of freedom was full of promise, hope and freedom. It stayed there; dormant for years. But during every fight, during every reign of silence, during my silent footsteps, it would surface. When the opportunity finally came, I did what any mother would do.

I don’t fantasize anymore. Why am I saying all this? It’s because there are times in life when you want to forget, but you can’t. And I have to tell someone; I have to admit that I wanted Jack to die.


Maggie heard the shot before she saw the gunman. The blow of the firearm forced her to the ground. With her eyes squeezed shut she listened for his whereabouts, but there was nothing but silence and thick fog.

The sharp snap of a branch sent her into a panic. “Maagggie.” He taunted, inching closer with every call. She cupped her hands over her ears and began to rock in place. With her muddy hands she hid her face and cuddled her bruised body.

Then she heard a faint whimper. With her heart racing she pushed herself up, the shroud of tears blinding her steps. A second shot ricocheted off the pines, but she kept moving. The cries became louder until she screamed out, “Vala.”

Maggie gasped for air as she jolted awake. Her senses were on high alert and her heart pounded. Tossing back the covers, she reached for her cell phone and glasses. The time was 4:12 am— just like the other nights.

“Vala,” She whispered. The dog put her head on her master’s leg. “Good girl.”

Maggie kept a glass of water by her bed for nights like this. Getting a good night sleep was becoming too far and few between. She had to rest. The nightmares were supposed to subside with time but instead they only grew stronger. Maggie drank the water in one giant slurp and rose from bed to check on Eli.

She shuffled across the worn carpet toward his room. The soft hue of his night light penetrated the dark hall. He’d been sleeping with the door open and light on, ever since the move. In fact, that’s when the nightmares started.

Maggie stood in the doorway, staring at her precious jewel. Eli was all she had now. And that was how she needed it to be. She knew he was fine; he didn’t wrestle with how they left home. It was just one night, and then they were gone. Claire told her she was too worried about Eli, and needed to stop checking on him while he slept. It was unhealthy for her to pamper him like she did. Still she couldn’t resist. Her anxiety would not allow it.

She crept inside the dimly lit room and placed her hand on his silky curls. Right now she was just thankful they were both safe. She wasn’t always able to say that. No matter how restless she grew, Eli was comfortable and that’s all that mattered. He had heard her scream in the middle of the night, just the day before last. When he ran into her room, Maggie steadied her voice and he told him it was nothing.

Peeling back his curtain she glanced outside. The motion lights in the yard flashed on and a fresh dusting of snow coated the ground. She looked for footprints, human or animal, anything that would alert her to as to why she should be afraid, but nothing was there. She took her pulse and did her breathing. “Relax. There is nothing to fear.”

She looked back at Eli nestled in his flannel moose sheets. The day was coming when he’d lose his blonde curls and little boy charms. But that was the future. For now he was still her little prince.

Maggie closed his door. As a chill hit her she realized her chest was soaked in