Cradled within his palm, slightly brighter in color than the pink of his skin, was a single pill. Roughly triangular in shape, and no larger than a child’s first tooth, the pill had cost him more than the equivalent of a year’s lease on his Volvo V70.

It was love itself.

He’d spent more than three weeks searching for it. He’d met with strangers in dark alleyways and the backs of booming clubs. He’d paid dearly for hints and clues. He’d made telephone calls to numbers with unknown area codes. He’d spoken passwords, and driven to isolated locations, and carried enough cash to make himself feel queasy. And now he had it.

Love itself.

A high percentage of dopamine and norepinephrine, to provoke the euphoria of first attraction. Androgens and estrogens for the heat of lust. Oxytocin and vasopressin to smooth the rush with the dreamy bliss of a long term relationship. A perfect chemical symphony.

He held it in his palm, gazing at it, but seeing Sophie instead. He saw her hair in its morning tangle, her eyes thick with sleep. He saw her in their shower, head bowed and arms crossed as if she were praying. He saw her at the other end of the dinner table, her eyes glimmering in the candle’s flicker. And he saw her as he’d seen her last, a month before, hanged from the banister, her neck stretched long, her bare feet dangling. She hadn’t left a note.

He put the pill in his mouth, and tried to swallow, but his tongue was dry, and the pill caught in his throat. He reached for the bottle, to wash it down. He raised the bottle up, and gulped hard, kept on gulping until the bottle was empty. Even after he’d forced the pill through, and the chemicals had started to do their work, he could feel where it had caught. He could feel it, and it brought the tears to his eyes.

Marcos Soriano on Fogged Clarity

Marcos Soriano has published stories in Quick Fiction, Instant City, NANOfiction, online at Thieves Jargon, and elsewhere. He lives in San Francisco and earns a living as a gardener.