Status: Complete :)

One Chance


“Goodness,” I chuckle as my friend, Lisa, and I step past the doors of McDonald’s, a cold blast of air blowing our hair back and out of our faces from the air conditioner situated up above the door. She shrugs her shoulders back at me and lets out a laugh, reaching up to brush back her bright, white as the purest sand blonde hair.

“I’m just saying, if Johnny Depp came up to me right now, his clothes would be off in a second.” I simply roll my eyes and stop behind her in line, setting my hands on my hips. We’d been driving for a good five and a half hours from Redding, California, and we decided to stop here for some lunch on the way to the big concert festival that was happening tonight in LA. My stomach audibly growls in search of food as we wait in line.

“Dude, I’m craving a Big Mac so bad right now,” she mutters, narrowing her eyes at the menu. I glance around the restaurant, a few people scattered among the seats, eating and chatting the afternoon away. Some with little kids, others on their own, all just having an average day, in an average week, during the average spring season. Over to my left, leaning against the wall next to the drink machines, stand two twenty-something guys with their arms crossed over their chests. They don’t speak, just watch everyone in the restaurant.

“What the hell crawled up their asses?” I murmur under my breath to Lisa, a brow raised as I glance back ahead of me.

“Oh shut up, they’re probably just scouting out hot girls to ask out,” she replies through a laugh, nudging me back from her. Lisa twists her wrists from side to side so that her favorite gold bracelets, the ones she wore in hopes of catching her favorite singer’s eyes at the show, jangle loudly and proudly. I sigh and stuff my hands into my pockets, pursing my lips and shaking my head. As we move up, I look at the woman standing ahead of us, indecisively humming to herself as she stares at the menu. The cashier narrows his eyes as he impatiently stands there, waiting for her to make a decision.

“C’mon, lady,” a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old kid whines from behind her. Everyone lets out a laugh, including the indecisive woman, and I watch as the cashier laughs as well. Then, he pulls out a black handgun and holds it up, shooting her dead. She lands on the floor, and he continues to laugh, a wide smile on his face and the gun resting loosely in his hand, as if it was a toy. Everyone takes in a gasp of shock, some people in the McDonald’s letting out screams while I stand there, unable to process anything at all. The woman lays there stiffly, and I stare at her as if waiting for her to stand back up and say, “Joke’s on you! April fools!” And then the rest of us would remind her that that was still a week away, and she would laugh, and we’d move on about our days.

But instead, she stays where she is, and the two men that I noticed over by the drink machines stand away from them, their brows raised at us in dark, sick amusement. My heart races in my chest, but I still can’t move. I can’t speak. Their gazes move to Lisa where she stands in front of me, and the taller one, his black hair thick and spiked upward, gestures to her with a gun that he pulls from his waistband.

“Yeah, this shit’s serious,” he says, aiming it ahead of him and shooting two more people in line. “Bam – she’s dead. Bam, he’s dead,” he states with each shot.

Then, he steps to me, and in one stroke, presses the mouth of the gun to my chest and pulls the trigger, sending me to the floor. My eyes glance down at the blood pooling between my elbow where it’s curled up to my chest, and the wound that the bullet put in my flesh. I’ll be fine, I assure myself, The paramedics should be here any minute and I’m pretty sure he missed. I don’t even feel like I’ve been shot.

That thought, however, is quickly dismissed as a horrible, gripping pain takes over inside my chest, twisting me inside-out. Being in first responder training myself, I realize quickly that there’s no exit wound; that the bullet is ricocheting inside of me and that I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die here, like this; I’m going to bleed out internally, and there won’t be paramedics or doctors to save me until long after I’m gone.

Before I can think of anything, anything at all, one thought takes over everything… I haven’t told him. I haven’t told him that I love him.

My first responder teacher; a man that’s been the object of my every dream for the past year – all of senior year, that is – is all that I can think of. Once I got to know him, I fell in love with him; he was everything I dreamt ‘the one’ would be. Mr. Reed was his name. Matt Reed. He was kind, and hilariously funny, and beautifully handsome, and had been a successful firefighter-paramedic for fifteen years. His heart was massive, he cared so much for everyone around him, and we had so much in common…the connection we had was amazing. But, he was eighteen years older than me. Eighteen. I knew from the start that I had but no chances with him; that he was my teacher and I was still three months from my eighteenth birthday. So, I kept it from him; and I pretended to see him as nothing but a teacher.

Now, though… Now, I was minutes from dying of blood loss, and I still hadn’t told him that I was in love with him. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t care anymore. At the moment, all I could think was that if I had just one more chance, just one chance at all, that I would run to him and I would tell him. Then, I told the universe; then, you could take me and I would be at peace with everything.

“Pl…Please…” I stutter weakly. “I-I’ll do anything.” Anything to live long enough to tell him how I feel…