Emily saw him fall backward before the gunshot registered in her brain. Looking back on it, she would wonder why her senses functioned out of order, but at that moment all she wanted to do was run to him. Her friends tried to grab her arm to hold her back, but she was too fast. The gunman was gone before anyone saw him, and she wouldn’t have picked up any details on him anyway.
She got to her ex-boyfriend’s body first, pulling his head into her lap and holding her hand over his chest to try to stop the bleeding. She had no tears yet, just utter shock that her ex had just been shot in the chest. He tried to say something, and she barely understood the words for the blood gurgling in his lungs and throat.
“Love you always,” he managed to whisper. Wth that, his eyes became black and refocused and she tried to keep him focused– it was her only hope of keeping him alive. He had to fight to stay alive.
The sirens grew louder– one of her friends had called an ambulance. The EMTs got out of the truck, pulled the stretcher out of the back and one of them took Jake’s vitals.
She felt herself being pulled to her feet– those were Ryan’s hands on her, Ryan’s body becoming the support for her own.
“We’ll follow the ambulance to the hospital, honey, come on,” her best friend Amy said as she helped Ryan carry her weight.
She was put into the front passenger seat of Ryan’s Mazda and she didn’t register anything else except the ambulance. When she saw it turn off its emergency lights and siren, she almost panicked.
“Why did they turn off the siren? Jake is still in there, he needs to get to the hospital faster!” she said, willing the driver of the ambulance to turn the lights and siren back on.
Amy reached up from the backseat, holding emily’s hand and meeting Ryan’s eyes in the rearview mirror. When Amy saw that Ryan was thinking the same thing she was, she teared up, but kept quiet for Emily’s sake.
Emily kept talking, despite Ryan and Amy trying to calm her down as they followed the ambulance that followed all traffic rules.
At the hospital, Emily broke down when the EMTs extended their condolences and tried to keep her from seeing her ex-boyfriend’s lifeless body.
But Emily was too stubborn. Her friends motioned to the EMTs to let her do what she wanted to, and they reluctantly walked with her back to the ambulance. They pulled the stretcher out of the back and pulled down the white sheet that was now stained red over Jake’s chest.
He had died with a wince on his face, but at least his eyes were closed. Emily didn’t think she could handle seeing his eyes blank and glassy. she held his head in her hands, bringing her face down to press it to his cheek. Her tears slid from her cheeks onto his, and she told him her last goodbye.
“Thank you for the time we had. Love you always,” she said, remembering him coughing out those same three words. She knew those whispered words would echo in her mind for the rest of her life.