Vol 6: Choices
You stand before the enemy. The person who has been bullying you for a long time, making you feel like shit for no reason other than you are different. Or maybe because you spoke up. Or maybe because you were just unlucky. It doesn't matter why it started. Only this moment matters.
Now you stand, as they are helpless, bleeding out on the ground. Not your doing, although there is a certain perverse satisfaction that after weeks of torment, you see them near death. They immediately sneer and tell you to fuck off, using their standard biting barbs that have begun to wear past your usual thick skin.
You turn, ready to leave them to their fate after their initial reaction. Karma is a bitch sometimes, and people will reap what they sow. Looking around, you see the other bodies strewn on the pavement. Unsure of the why. But the end result is the same. Death all around.
"Wait," you hear as you take your first steps away. "Help me. Get me out of here."
Just like that, their perception of you has changed from victim to savior. The police are already crawling outside, checking the others for signs of life. Inside, you are confronted by the hardest choice you have to make.
"Cops are already outside," you tell them. "I can't do anything."
A pause. Then, "Take my gun off me."
It strikes you that they likely killed someone in whatever conflict happened. And probably with a weapon that wasn't theirs. But without the actual firearm, without proof, the police can only charge them with so much. They are fucked either way, though you could spare them years of prison. But only if you are willing to risk everything. A choice.
In the span of a moment, many thoughts flood through your head. The cops are outside, shouting at you to come out. You have seconds before you are pulled out of there, in the midst of a bloody crime scene. You are innocent. Nothing on you. You'd be fine. You could just walk away. If they survived, they'd be angry, they'd take it out on you, but you wouldn't be endangering your own freedom to do something highly illegal for someone who has done nothing good for you. For once in your life, you have the power.
And this person has been nothing but cruel to you, yelling at you, making you feel worthless. They deserve it. They don't know it, but their constant torturing of you has made you question your very existence, the culmination of years of humiliation at the hands of others. Their words had an impact far deeper than they could ever know. And while you laughed it off in public or made light of it, it's been wearing you down.
Despite the resentful feelings inside, you are also calculating and intelligent. Perhaps this will get them back off and leave you alone, let you get some peace to focus on your own life. You could show that you're cool. That you're not the person they assumed you were. That maybe you could be an ally. Ultimately, you know if you say no, they will take it out on you later. And this would avoid that future pain, if for a bit.
The pleading in their eyes changes everything for you. The bitterness, the scheming all fade away, and you are left with sheer empathy for this broken person. Everything else fades away, and you lean down and take the gun off them.
"Thanks," they say, as you walk into the arms of the police.
You don't give them up, you don't say a word. You get cuffed as the cops check you for gunpowder residue, but you haven't fired a gun, and you have someone outside vouching for you. You're just an idiot who ran inside to see the craziness, rather than a dangerous criminal. No reason to worry about you.
You watch from the sidelines, uncertain of the future, as your bully is taken away in an ambulance, unsure if the risk you took even meant anything.
But it did.
The end result never mattered. It was about showing who you are. It was never truly a choice. This was something you had to do. A directive from your very core. Not to prove anything to yourself or to your tormentor, or to repair the rift between you, but because of who they are to you.
If you can show mercy to the intolerant, display grace towards the contemptuous, offer sympathy to those with malice, then you are more powerful and strong than they could ever hope to be.