I am going to kill someone today; his name is Miles Grayson. I recall the sound of each syllable of his name as he was given a “not guilty” judgment in court. This was the man that had taken Amie’s life. Dead at 11.
My heart beats hard against my ribcage, and I can’t hear the world around me as blood surges through my ears. Taking a deep breath to calm myself, just like my therapist had shown me, I listened to the ambiance of the Great Suds Laundry. I focused on the sounds of the washing machines spraying and sloshing water, and the rhythmic thump-click of the dryers. It smells like a fresh mountain spring where I’m sitting; someone had overloaded a dryer with fabric softener.
He sat right next to me, and I forgot to inhale for a moment. Did he know that I was going to kill him? Why is he sitting next to me?
I was sure that he had finally recognized me. How many teen girls followed him around like I did? My stomach flipped, and I slipped my hand into my parka pocket. My fingertips touched the cold metal of the Taurus .22 handgun, and an electric jolt caused me to snatch my hand away.
I reminded myself that I’d planned this for so many months. I promised Amie. Amie. I kept saying her name until my heart stopped thudding wildly. Amie. Amie. I could see her big brown eyes. Eyes that would light up when she had an Einstein moment or when she told one of her lame jokes.
God, I missed her.
She used to snatch my phone out of my hand when she wanted my attention. She could have simply said, “Excuse me,” but that wasn’t dramatic enough for Amie. She needed you to look at her when she talked, and God forbid if you’re doing your homework or texting your bestie when she decides to speak.
I’d give anything to be with her again. You only get one little sister. Just one.
“I know you’ve been following me around,” Miles said, his eyes on the mounted TV in the middle of the laundromat.
I just stared at him, mostly because I didn’t know what to say.
“I’m doing my best not to call the police; you have to stop stalking me.”
I slipped my hand into my jacket pocket again. This time when my fingers touched the cold metal of the .22, there was no lightning bolt. I felt like I was on a beach with white sands, with the sun warming my skin as I drank a frou-frou drink with a cute pink umbrella for a toothpick.
“I’m so sorry for what happened to your sister, but it was an accident.”
My fingers did more than touch the gun; they wrapped themselves around this tool that would never bring Amie back but would make the sleepless nights go away.
“I have to live my life.”
I bit down so hard I heard my teeth crack in the back. I might have split one of the molars on the right side, but I felt no pain.
“You have to live yours.”
I closed my eyes as a tear slipped down my face.
“Nothing you do can bring her back.”
I slid the safety off on the weapon.
He swallowed and hesitated. “If I could trade places with her, I’d do it, but I can’t give back what I took from you.”
His lower lip quivered, and he looked down at his large hands.
“I don’t have a right to ask you to forgive- ”
Miles Grayson stopped speaking; at that moment, he understood what I wanted.
All I could see was my 11-year-old sister’s body dragged beneath his silver Chrysler.
“I’m leaving now,” Miles said quietly. “Please, leave me alone.”
I watched him walk away. I sat there, telling myself I should get up and follow him to the men’s room. I could shoot him there. I thought of the two officers I’d seen earlier at the Starbucks next door. I shrugged and slowly made my way to the men’s room.
At the entrance, I stopped.
Amie was smiling at me with that crooked grin of hers. She waved, so I waved back. She never spoke. We didn’t need words to communicate.
Amie was gone, and in her place was Miles Grayson.
His face was drained of blood because he understood it was time to pay for the life he had taken.
“Please, don’t.” It was barely a whisper, but I heard him clearly.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the .22.
The explosion made me jump. An ear-piercing scream caused a chill to race down my spine while the laundromat emptied of people. Through the smoke coming from the barrel, I saw Miles. He stood as if he had been turned to stone, his eyes trained on the weapon.
I wasn’t prepared for the weapon’s recoil. The bullet had landed on the white wall somewhere over Miles’ head.
“Why?” Miles asked, his eyes rounded in shock. “It was an accident.”
I saw Amie again. She stood directly in front of Miles. I would have to shoot Amie before I could take another shot at the man who had stolen her life.
As my hands shook uncontrollably, the weapon fell to the ground.
I never wanted this. Not this.
My knees weakened, and I crumbled to the floor. My entire body convulsed; it felt like pain was a surgical knife ripping me apart piece by piece. I opened my mouth and howled against the mind-numbing agony as I blessed the dirty tiles with the tears from my brokenness.
“Amie,” I whimpered on the cold floor. “Amie.”
Marissa Pedroza is an Admin. Assistant at a Title One Elementary school. She is a writer, portrait artist, and mother. She is currently attending Full Sail University for her BFA in Creative Writing.