"Come on, come on! We only have thirty minutes, you can pee when we get back."
I watched as Ruby tapped her foot and placed her hands on her hips with a dramatic air of impatience, laughing to myself. The four of us, Ruby, Marri, Damon and I were on our half-hour, unpaid dinner break. None of us had brought anything to eat that day, so Damon offered to drive us to the Burger King a mile down the road.
Damon rolled his eyes at Ruby. "Fine, but it's on your head if I wet myself on the way there."
We piled into Damon's Jeep, annoying hip-hop music blasting from the ridiculous sound system. I rolled down my window as Damon tore out of the parking lot, tuning out the music and checking the messages on my phone. Damon was picking on Ruby for something or other, and Marri was jokingly calling Damon names. We had only been working together for a couple months but already we were incredibly comfortable around each other, as though we had been friends for years. I was a little sad to be leaving in two weeks, but I was tremendously excited about the upcoming fall semester at college. They would be fine without me.
It only took about three minutes to get there. I hungrily anticipated my Whopper Jr. and mozzarella sticks as we walked into the fast food joint, inhaling they scent of greasy fries and cooking hamburgers. There was only one other customer in line, and no one in the sitting area. Very good news for us, since we had to order, eat and get back before the clock hit eight.
As I looked at the menu above the counter, I was distracted by the man in line in front of us. He was a big man, tapping his foot angrily against the tiled floor, one hand on the counter and the other in his jacket pocket. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt under the jacket, covering his head. Something felt wrong.
Abruptly, the man swung around, whipping his hand out of his pocket, revealing a pistol with a silencer attached to the barrel. Where would he get that? I wondered numbly as he started yelling orders.
"Get down!! Everyone, on your knees, hands behind your head! NOW!"
The four of us looked at each other in shock and fear before slowly falling to our knees. The woman behind the counter started whimpering softly, looking like she was about to start crying. I felt like it myself, but held myself together. I didn't want to upset him in any way.
The man turn away from us, facing the shaking cashier. "Empty the registers. All of them! Then go to the manager's office and get all of the money envelopes from there and bring them here. You have two minutes."
The girl's hands shook as she pressed the button to open the drawer. She pulled out all of the cash as quickly as she could before moving on to the second one. Then she timidly turned to the robber and said, "That's all of it…the rest was deposited earlier today."
I jumped a little as the man brought his gun down hard on the counter, before pointing it at the girl's face, screaming at her. "Liar!! I used to work in one of these dumps; the money isn't counted until the end of the day! Now GO GET IT!" The girl scrambled backwards in fear. Disappearing around the corner. "ONE MINUTE!!" He shouted after her.
Just then Damon erupted from his crouch, tackling the man from behind and attempting to grab the gun from his hand. The man stumbled forwards against the counter, Damon's arm around his chest and other hand grabbing for the gun. I heard a little "ping" and suddenly the soda fountain to my left burst, Mountain Dew flooding the floor. Damon slipped on the rapidly spreading soda, going down hard but managing to bring the man down with him. My stomach lurched in fear as I watched the two of them tangle, and I could hear Ruby hyperventilating next to me. I heard another "ping" and felt something tear through my left shoulder.
I must have cried out, because suddenly the room was very still. Time started moving very slowly. Damon and Marri were staring at me in shock, and Ruby was sobbing quietly in horror. Even the man stopped and stood up, looking at me. He had the strangest expression on his face. He almost looked like he was the one in pain, even though I was the one who had just been shot. I saw his mouth form a silent "oh, no." Only a couple seconds had passed.
Then time sped up. I found myself on my back on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. Damon and Marri rushed to my side, uncertain hands hovering over me but doing nothing. My shoulder felt like it was on fire. I felt the spilt soda seeping under my back. It felt good, cool against my burning shoulder. Damon's face was hovering over me. I was vaguely aware that his lips were moving, but I couldn't hear anything. His hands were now pressed against my shoulder, trying to stop the bleeding. The fire slowly faded and a numbness began to spread. I felt drowsy.
Weakly, I tried to lift my head up. I felt Marri's hand supporting me, helping me. I saw Ruby on her cell phone, tears still coursing down her cheeks. The man who shot me did nothing to stop her as she called 911. He just looked at me with such pain and desperation in his eyes. I knew in my heart that he was not a bad man. He had never meant for anyone to get hurt.
I smiled at him through the haze that was closing in. "It's okay," I whispered to him through the encroaching black. "I forgive you."
The world faded into darkness.