by Maddie White
1…2…3…4…5… I count the bills in my drawer until there’s nothing left to count.
It’s been a long Friday. One after another, customers lined up in front of me to deposit money and cash their checks. They scheduled me to leave early, but I volunteered to stay.
It was 10 minutes before we closed and a tall man with dark hair and piercing blue eyes walked in hurriedly.
“You got here just in time.” I called to the man in the lobby.
He gave me a friendly half smile and tried to sign.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know sign language.”
I handed the man a piece of paper and a pen to write the transaction he needed. The other teller took her drawer to the vault, leaving me alone with the man. I saw him slide the paper and pen back.
My heart filled with a cold rush of fear.
Don’t make a sound. Give me all the money in your drawer. I have a gun. Make it fast.
My hands trembled as I fumbled for my keys. He watched every move and I tried to remember what the protocol was for this situation. We were being robbed.
Just breathe. He will not hurt you as long as you do what he wants. I told myself.
My drawer flew open and I debated whether to give him bait money. I took a chance and pulled the trap. He laid a black plastic bag on the counter and I filled it with the money. The phone rang causing me to jump.
“Is everything okay, ma’am? We received an alert of a hold up.” The woman from the security company asked.
“I’m sorry, we close at 5. I’ve got a customer now, but we’ll be closing after his transaction is complete.”
“We’ll dispatch the police. Is anyone hurt?”
“Okay, thank you. Have a great evening.”
My coworker emerged from the vault, unaware of the imminent danger in front of her.
Wide eyed, I looked up at the robber as I stuffed the cash in his bag. He pulled his white tucked shirt out of his pants revealing a gun.
“What the hell?” my co-worker whispered from behind me.
The man pulled his gun and shoved it in my face.
“You call the cops, she dies.”
I spit the gun from my mouth.
“Let her go. I’ll stay here until you leave. Just let her go.”
Sirens blared in the distance, causing him to look away.
“I told you, no cops.” His voice was monotone and he raised the gun.
I ran to the exit. I heard the shot and felt a burning sensation in my side. I laid on the ground and felt warm blood running down my leg.
No. This can’t be it. Keep breathing. It will be okay. I told myself.
1…2…3…4…5 I counted again, but this time it’s not money. It’s seconds between each breath until there’s nothing left to count.
Maddie White is passionate about mental health. She has work featured in Flash Fiction Magazine, Pixel Heart Magazine, and Rhythm and Bones. You can find her on Twitter @MaddieMWhite17