They say this to me as I stare in hope, in horror, in numbness at the blood on the floor. On the walls. Staining my pants, my hands, my shirt. All at the same time, all at once, I feel glass cracking and bones breaking. Over and over, I see that blood gush, in quick pulses, in slow pulses, pooling around her pupils. I see her trying desperately to edge forward, to stop the pain, to evade the folding metal.
Someone taps me, hard, insistent, but she’s still edging forward. Her toe taps sporadically in the blood, against the mat, a rhythmless beat playing for her last moments. I wonder how my eyelids worked before. All I see is everything inside of her squeezing out.
Once again, someone taps me. The blood is gone. The metal is gone. The eerie, spastic tapping fades away. All that is left is the sound of cracking glass, slow but deep, and the worried pull of familiar faces. I turn to look at them, to swallow the pity and sorrow embedded deep in the air.
“Everyone dies,” she repeats.
Yes. That’s right. Everyone did.
Except for me.
– Shaquana A. Briggs