the ashtray was looking more and more like a sick hedgehog and her yellowed fingers added one more quill to it she sat back in her chair work wasn't in the best of stages lately and her office looked like a junkie's trailer. You could scrape the nicotine off the walls. In fact, she would get nicotine under her nails if she just scratched her skin anywhere But otherwise she was a beauty and that was a problem. Beautiful women have the worst luck in marriages The husband left and the two girls went with him They were sick and tired of her habit to consume more cigarette smoke than oxygen And drinking was also a problem though not nearly as big The worst drinking has ever done to her was to make her lose the driving license which she never bothered to take back The real problem was, as always, a lack of money. If the damn phone didn't ring soon she would have to kill someone for a pack of cigarettes Assuming she could still kill someone with her body rotting from the inside. She was fine with breast cancer but now lung cancer joined too and it was by far nastier Still that was all right It doesn't take a healthy body to pull a trigger And speaking of triggers She opened a drawer in her desk took out the gun studied it Not loaded She browsed through the drawer Only one bullet left. One single bullet. These things cost money too Damn it But it's like they said back in the mercenary camp The last bullet is always preserved to be used on the self She loaded the bullet into the gun A life lived well is one lived without regrets and without ever asking for mercy or feeling sorry for yourself At 39 she had that. There was nothing else to be taken away from it She put the gun to her temple Smiled "Except for a final smoke."