I closed my eyes as I always did when he kissed me. His lips were the softest whisper against mine. I wanted to grab him and make him kiss me like I knew he could, but I stopped myself. That wasn't for school time. That wasn't for a crowded hallway. That was curled up at either one of our houses with the T.V. going in the background. Still, it slightly annoyed me.
He chuckled, probably knowing exactly what I was thinking. I opened my eyes, his face coming into focus. I wrapped my arms around his neck, hugging him close to me. That was all that mattered, the feeling he gave me when we were close. The feeling that could not be copied.
"So," Shawn sighed, twirling a piece of my hair around his finger.
"So?" I replied, and raised my eyebrows at him.
There was one of those soft moments of silence between us. We didn't have to say anything. We just had to be together. I loved these moments more than I would probably ever tell him. I loved having the comfort of knowing that there was someone I was this at ease with. When silence couldn't come between us, because we could just be together. Unbidden, a smile rose to my lips, and I could see the smile in his eyes.
With a slight blush, I glanced away, over his shoulder. That's when I saw it. Joshua Hart was headed down the hallway, with a gun. Shawn couldn't see Josh, because Shawn had his back to the rest of the hallway. In slow motion, I saw the gun rise. I saw students start to scatter. Shawn remained oblivious. Without a second thought, I tucked Shawn's head into my shoulder, like I always did when I was holding him close, and then spun around so that my back was facing Josh.
I couldn't tell you why I turned Shawn at that moment. Just that I knew I had to. It wasn't until half a second later that I realized why. I knew the bullet was in my back before I felt the pain. Yet, when the pain hit, and I felt my shirt stick to my back, I fell in on myself. At least, that's what it felt like. My legs collapsed. I felt as though all of my joints were now j-ello. I couldn't imagine crying, or breathing, at this point. I let out a gasp, like I was about to burst into tears, but I had nothing in me for tears right now. I stumbled forward, directly into Shawn.
"Lydia?" Shawn exclaimed in my ear, as he lurched backward a step, balancing all of my weight.
I flopped my head back, in order to look him in the eye. I heaved a long breath, and that's when I found that I couldn't breathe anymore. I struggled for air. I could feel my shirt getting heavy. My head began to feel light.
"God," Shawn exclaimed. "Oh dear God!"
I felt his hands on my back. I knew that they must be soaked with my blood. Strangely, enough, that thought didn't terrify me. I knew that I had blood, of course, but I so rarely saw it that it didn't really seem like a part of me. The edges of my vision began to blur. I felt the world move around me. A part of me thought: this is it. This is the end. That's when I realized the world really was moving. Shawn was lowering me to the ground.
"Why would you do that?" He shouted. I could make out the shadow of tears down his face. He was crying even when I couldn't. "Why would you take that bullet for me?"
"You deserve life," I breathed.
"So do you!" He argued. Then, his face softened, as though he realized that this wasn't the best time to fight. "Just stay strong, okay? You're going to be fine."
I wondered where Joshua went. Maybe he had gone up the stairs, instead of continuing down the hall. Maybe he had turned around. Maybe he had chickened out after seeing my blood. The fire alarm was pulled, startling my heart into a faster rhythm. I heard the stampede of feet, ignorant students heading toward the doors, complaining about drills.
"Shawn," I put my energy into making myself heard, "Go. Leave, right now." I ordered. What if Josh came back? I did this so Shawn could be safe, and he wouldn't be safe if was still in the building. He needed to be outside, with teachers, and officers, where Josh wouldn't (hopefully) open fire.
"I am not leaving you," his eyes turned the darkest shade of blue I'd ever seen on him. He took my hand in his own. "I will not leave you."
Something in me turned to panic. Shawn needed to get out. "But you have too," I blurted. I felt weak, everything seemed to be turning around, flipping, and there were soft edges of black around everything.
"No! I don't!"
"No one will know I need an ambulance unless you tell them," I invented. Breathing was becoming harder. If I was going to die here, Shawn didn't need to see it. I hung onto him, so that I could take the image with me.
He was debating; I could see it in him.
"I'm coming back," he decided quickly.
He bent over me, and I could smell his deodorant, soft and comforting, like Shawn himself. "I love you, Lydia." He leaned down and kissed me. My remaining breath was gone. I felt myself give way, and it wasn't because of a bullet, or the increasing lack of blood. He had never said those words to me before.
And he was gone before I could say them back.
I heard his sneakers squeaking on the floor as he ran. I mapped out the school in my mind. He only had this hallway to go down before he made it to the front doors. I didn't know where Joshua was, but it was probably only him and I left in the school. Faculty and students would have fled upon hearing the alarms.
I relaxed against the cold tile. My essence of life was slipping away. It was bobbing around, like a rubber duck in the middle of the ocean. I could feel it. Up, down. Here, then gone. I closed my eyes. I couldn't breathe anymore. With all this pain, I wasn't sure I wanted too. The black I had seen felt like it had slipped into my body. It was taking over. Stealing me away.
Then, I heard another gunshot.
I knew. I knew in that moment that it was Shawn. And I clenched together. I pulled together my energy. I didn't know why Joshua had done this. But I knew that he had. And I needed to get to Shawn. Shawn was in pain. Shawn was bleeding. Shawn needed me. I managed to flip over, belly down in the sea of blood I had created. That was as far as I got, before I was gone.