Kyle and I have just finished a date night, we are both dressed up. Liam is at his grandmother’s. We stop at a gas station convenience store to get snacks before going home. We are waiting in line with several other people, when three men wearing masks come running in, waving around guns, and telling us all to get down.
Terrified, we all get down on the ground, while the three men go to the counter and demand money. The leader of the group seems anxious, and he is threatening the cashier, pointing the gun right in his face, screaming at him to hurry. The other two guys repeatedly tell him to calm down, and that they just want the money, they don’t want to shoot anybody. The cashier reaches for the alarm button, and the robber shoots him in the head.
We all scream. There is a middle-aged couple in the store with us, as well as a man who later explains to us that he is an ex-marine, and a young mother with a little girl. The two other robbers rush to the leader, and an argument ensues. They are angry that he shot the man, and they didn’t want to hurt anyone. The leader shoves one of the men and hits him with his gun, knocking him out. The other robber runs out the door.
The leader begins pacing, talking to himself angrily, while waving his gun around. The man on the floor starts moving again, and he pulls him up violently, yelling at him for not following orders. While they argue, the ex-marine quietly instructs us how to get out. He motions for the young mother and her little girl to get to the door quietly, and they manage to get out without the men noticing.
Next, the older woman and I are told to go. We crawl to the door, breaking into a sprint at the threshold. We join the woman and her daughter in the parking lot, who are already calling 911. Next, all three men make a break for it, but the armed men notice, and start firing.
They manage to make it out the door… but aren’t fast enough. Kyle and the ex-marine are both shot several times in the chest, and collapse on the curb. The two men take off running.
I scream, rushing over to Kyle, who has two holes in his chest, and blood trickling from his mouth. He is struggling to breathe, yet tried to speak to me. I cradle his head in my arms and sob, urging him to save his breath, and begging him not to die. After several minutes, the older woman pulls me away. I look down at Kyle’s lifeless body, and collapse back to the ground. I crawl over to him and try to give him CPR, but he is gone. I grab his hand, kiss it, and pull off his wedding band, slipping it into my pocket.
The police come to take our statements before releasing us all to go home. I watch them cover Kyle’s body and load him into an ambulance. They don’t bother turning on the lights as they drive away. The older woman and her husband offer to drive me to my mother-in-law’s, and we get into their truck. I take out my phone to call her, but my entire body is numb and heavy, and I can’t move.
When she answers, she doesn’t seem to notice my violent, hysterical sobbing, and brightly talks to me about our plans for Liam’s first birthday. She asks where Kyle is, and all I can do it hang up. We get to her house, and the couple helps me inside, where Kyle’s mom and two sisters are waiting. They don’t seem to notice the blood on my hands, face, and clothes, or my red eyes, still crying.
I collapse to the floor as the woman and her husband tell them what happened. I can’t hear them, but I know they mention Kyle, as his mom falls back onto the couch in tears. She then turns to me and says that I need to find a job now, or I will lose our apartment. She asks me who is going to take care of Liam, and if she can have our vehicle, since I can’t drive.
Liam walks over to me and gently tugs on my hair as I curl into a ball in the middle of the floor, shaking and crying. The older woman is patting my shoulder, telling me everything will be alright. Then they leave, and I am left on the floor, sobbing, while Kyle’s surviving family members stare at me.
And then I woke up.
I woke up with a pain in my chest, and tears in my eyes, as I rolled over in a panic to make sure that Kyle was still there. He was, but it had felt so real…