For a moment it seemed like the world was frozen, and all that mattered was Lacy. I heard her cries as I ran toward her, the wind pressing against me, making me move so slow. To slow.
“Nick!” She choked out, her eyes wild with fear. I watched in horror as a rag wrapped over her mouth and a pair of strong hands enclosed around her shoulders. He held her there, dragging her away like she belonged with him. Like she was his. I couldn’t let that happen, I had to keep running.
“Lacy, don’t let him take you! Don’t be stupid, fight back!” I yelled, my heart pounding as I came closer. With muffled screams Lacy twisted in the mans’ grasp, her feet kicking at his knees. Breaking free she fell to the earth, and only then did I see why. A bullet wound, straight through her foot was still fresh with blood as she crawled towards me.
Finally reaching her I tore off the rag, taking her in my arms I stood, wanting to run again, to do anything to escape from this man. Peering through the sunlight I saw him walking our way. Why didn’t he run? Was he so confident in his actions that he felt no need to hurry and kill us now? Still, I took off in the opposite direction, hoping to find a public place so at least if the man caught up with us there would be witnesses.
“Help! Somebody help us please!” I cried, “Please!”
I looked down at Lacy, her eyes were closed and her breath was soft against my neck. Her wound looked bad, it still bled, leaving a silent trail along the dirt road.
“Lacy, Lacy stay with me.” I pleaded “We’re going to get help.” I promised, yet part of me wasn’t sure it was certain. Setting her down I ripped a piece of my shirt off and tied it around her foot. A lone tear slid down the side of her cheek. Wiping it away I picked her up once more, checking behind me for the man. Nothing. Was he still walking? It didn’t make a difference, right now, I had to find a doctor.
I came through the hospital doors with tears streaming down my face. Laying Lacy on the waiting bench I ran to the front desk.
“Ms. Please you have to let this patient through now!” I begged, small gasps escaping my lips.
“I’m sorry, you will just have to wait like everyone else.” Said the secretary, her squinted eyes never leaving her clipboard.
“No you don’t understand-” I began
“You must wait.”
“She was just shot!” I screamed, my throat tightening as I spit the words at her. She only stared up at me through the glass window.
“Look, there was a man, who showed up in the park and tried to kidnap her, she got shot and now I don’t know where he is but you have to help us. Please.” My hands clasped together on her desk, my knuckles white. After shooing me away she paged the doctor, never taking her eyes off of me.
I paced in the waiting room as Lacy was taken away, faint beeps of monitors sounded in the distance, and nurses ran about, their masks tightly plastered against their mouths. I sat alone, but after a few hours, Lacy’s parents came in and sat next to me. Her mother, Maggie, clung to my shoulder, sobbing against my shirt before turning to face me.
“How did you find out?” I asked, looking down at the tiled floor.
“A man told me, someone I’ve never seen before.” She said, her voice coming out in a whisper.
“A man? What did he look like?” I concentrated now, hoping for some completely inaccurate description of what I had seen.
“He was very tall, looked strong. I think he was wearing a dark coat and blue jeans.” She told me.
I tried to picture the man. He was tall, but all I could see was his hands, how that curled around Lacy’s collarbones, leaving her struggling in the dirt. My fists clenched as I attempted to remember what he was wearing. Either way, he would have been the only other one who knew of the incident. Closing my eyes I ran my fingers through my hair, I hadn’t realized it, but I was shaking. Maggie patted my knee, her hands were ice cold.
“Where is he now?” I wondered aloud, gritting my teeth at the thought of where he might be.
“I’m not sure, he said something about seeing us later though.” She replied, turning to her husband, “It’s strange, do you think he could have been at my sister’s wedding George? Maybe I just don’t recognize him.”
“No you’ve never met him.” I answer.
“What? How would you possibly know if-?”
“Because he’s the man who shot your daughter.” I said calmly looking ahead at the pictures of the human skeleton. “Right in the foot, so she wouldn’t run.”
“What?” She gasped, placing a hand over her chest, her make up gliding down her cheeks.
“That man you talked too is very dangerous. He tried to take Lacy.” My voice wavered as I spoke. “I tried to help but she broke free before I got there. Afterwards I carried her here. He didn’t follow us, but walked, as if he knew we would come back, and if we didn’t, he’d find us.” I whispered. It scared me, to think that at any moment, he could be watching. Waiting.
A nurse knocked on the wall ahead of us, her hair was swept into a bun and her eyes were bright green and exhibited sight of loss.
“This way please.” She directed, her heels clicking lightly against the tile. All of us rose slowly, following her without a word. Guiding us to Lacy’s room she stopped me before I could enter.
“She’s alright. It’s going to be alright.” Shrugging out of her grasp on my arm I slipped through the door. I wasn’t sure, but something told me that she and I both knew that things weren’t going to be alright.
Seeing Lacy lying there in her patients’ gown, her foot wrapped in bandages made me feel so weak. So stupid that I had not gotten there faster. I was not there for her when she needed me most. I knelt by the cot and brushed away the hair from her eyes.
“She’s on some antibiotics so she’ll be out for a while” The doctor said, scribbling on his notepad.
I took her hand, it was still warm with life. He was still out there, and he wasn’t going to stop until he got what he wanted. I cringed, my breath coming out in short gasps. I could only imagine how Lacy must’ve felt, how scared she must’ve been.
It wasn’t fair.
It wasn’t fair that she was taken, even if for that moment, it wasn’t fair this was going to be hard for her, even after all this is over, it wasn’t fair that it was her and not me.
Life isn’t fair.