Months, to be exact. A lot has happened since that fateful day last July. I spent quite a bit of time in a coma in the hospital, and then doing physical therapy. After that, I just tried to get back to normal life. I’m not entirely sure what reminded me about this place, but I read through what I wrote last summer and felt like I needed to finish the story.
I went to church, like I said, but I was late. I got there, and I found people cowering outside. They ran up to me as I walked up to them. They told me about the crazy girl inside with the gun. I asked them who, but deep in the pit of my stomach, I already knew. I heard sirens screaming, saw the flashing lights of the police cars heading down the road, still a mile away. They couldn’t get to her first. I knew they would kill her if I didn’t stop her instead.
The others tried to stop me from going in, but I threw them off of me and rushed into the building. Everyone was on the floor. Children were crying. Parents were speaking in hushed tones, trying to calm them. She stood at the center of them all, the gun in her hands swinging about wildly. I couldn’t understand where she got a weapon like that. I know now that her father was a gun collector and had several assault rifles like the one she was carrying. I’m surprised our parents weren’t better friends.
She heard the door shut behind me. She spun to face me, and she froze. I saw the tears in her eyes. She wasn’t the only one of us who was crying. “You came back! I knew you’d come back! Help me. Help me make them understand.”
I shook my head and took a step towards her. She raised the gun at me, told me not to move. I tried to talk to her. I tried to convince her that she didn’t need to do this. With my arms open wide, I took another step.
“No. I do need to do this. I have to do this. I have to make them see what they’ve done to me.”
I asked her why.
“Because it’s the only real decision I’ll ever get to make.”
The scream of a police officer shouting into a megaphone buried the rest of her words. I took another step forward, and her hands trembled more. Step after step after step, I slowly made my way to her until I was only feet away. Still, the police made their threats and only rattled her more.
We spoke to each other there, with that gun between us. I told her that she had a choice, that she could end this and keep on living. I did everything I could to convince her. That’s when her finger slipped and pulled the trigger.
A world of red and black. As I fell, I saw him standing there, dressed in white, tall among the cowering bodies. I saw him behind Cassia as she dropped to her knees, pressing her hand to my wounds as she whimpered apologies. I saw him nod once and disappear before I fell into darkness.
I awoke from a coma two months later. The first thing I asked after they explained was what happened to her. They told me she was in a psychiatric facility, safely locked away and she wouldn’t hurt me again. They didn’t understand. I wanted to see her.
I visit her every two weeks now. She told me that, if I hadn’t come back, she honestly thinks she would have killed everyone. She’s getting better, though. It’s a long road, but I think she’ll be okay someday.
I can’t say for sure what the Tall Man was doing. I’m not going to pretend that I know how the universe works. What I do think, though, is that he had this planned from the start. Maybe he’s not just a force to remove people who are hopeless and could bring harm to others. Maybe he also helps us see what we’re truly capable of.
I’m not sure, either way. I haven’t seen him since that Sunday. I do know this though: Everything is going to be okay, as long as you hold on hope.