I watched the blood seep along the pavement. The dark red thickness of it flowed through my hand as I lay there. It was losing color, turning black. Everything around me seemed to be turning gray, losing color, losing substance. There was no sound. People were moving around me but slowly, too slowly.
There were faces talking but nothing I could understand. Faces looking around for help, shouting, distressed. Someone realized I was lying on top of a boy.
It had been instinct. I had grabbed him and pushed him to the ground. It worked, the bullet hit me instead. I fell forward on to him half intent on shielding him, but more propelled by the force of the impact that ripped through my chest.
Someone was turning me over. The chill hit me as they took the boy away. His warmth gone now. I sensed more than saw him turning back and staring at me. Wondering why I had saved him. I was from the other side. I was the enemy but now there was doubt in his mind.
Why did I save him? Maybe he was me back then. He had been running out of the market with a loaf of bread under his arm that he’d stolen and the baker’s wife was running after him. I had been smiling and watching the scene when I heard the first shots.
Ma used to scold me when I came home with food that had obviously been stolen. Where else would it have come from? She had a cleaning job but it didn’t pay enough to afford rent, bills, clothes, food. Food was the easiest thing to steal. As I got older it was easier to make money. There were always errands the fathers needed doing: running drugs or money or guns. What else was there for someone like me?
Ma despaired when I got caught but I went away knowing she’d be looked after. We were part of the family now, whether she liked it or not. I took care of her now like she’d taken care of me when I was small.
It was growing darker around me. My senses faded away from the people and noise that surely must be surrounding me. The city was never this quiet. I glanced up to the strangest sight. A flower growing from a wall in the middle of a city like this? I stared at it trying to figure out how it got there. My last thought was wondering what was going to make it die but I already knew.