How was it possible that she ended up here? She was so careful, followed the rules and took no risks whatsoever. But here she was nevertheless, stuck on this cot looking through the cold steel bars of justice.
When had she stopped following her own instincts? her own morals? the rules her family taught her, which she had chosen to embrace as her own? When had she stopped being her own woman and become the backup player of someone else’s life?
She understood it and yet she understood none of it. She understood that it was her desire for Ben to love her wholly and completely that had driven her to accept so many things about Ben that her friends couldn’t understand and that she knew her parents wouldn’t approve of. It wasn’t as if the only difference between his life and her own was his lack of religious upbringing. Her parents wouldn’t mind too much about that, it was the choices that he made day-to-day, the choices that she stood by and watched, or worse yet, participated in. Like the choice they’d made earlier that day, the choice that landed her here in this cell on this old, urine-stained cot and Ben in the morgue.
It no longer mattered what her parents would have thought of Ben because they would never meet him. Ben was dead. Ben was dead! They’d fucked up. They’d fucked up bad — No, that’s not true. She had fucked up. She’d allowed herself to get swept up in his energy. He was so exciting, the way he was always pushing the limits. All of her friends had warned her to stay away from him, that he was bad news and that it could only lead to trouble. But this, this was worse than she could have ever imagined.
Her parents might spend the rest of their lives blaming him for destroying her life, but really it was her own mistake. She’d danced with danger and, in the end, they both lost. Her future would never be what it might have been if only she hadn’t been so needy. Why was she so needy? He would have robbed that bank even if she hadn’t been there to join him. His death wasn’t on her. But why? Why did she agree to rob that bank with him? What was it about Ben that made her pick up that gun and follow him into the bank? The girl she knew, the girl she had once been would never have terrorized people the way they had five hours earlier. Why had she agreed to rob that bank? There was no excuse, not a single one that she could think of to even justify thinking of robbing a bank, let alone actually robbing one! She wasn’t on drugs and they weren’t broke. She just did it because he’d asked her to do it. He said it would be easy. He said it would be fun. He said it would be exciting. It was none of those things! What will she tell her friends when they start coming by looking at her with pitiful eyes that said, “I told you so.” and how in the world was she supposed to tell her parents?
“Miss Sheridan, we’ve got your parents on the line now. Please follow me.”
“Mom, dad, it’s me, Shelly. Don’t freak out — Yes, I’m okay, I guess, but… I need a lawyer. A good one. Because, um, well… Ben and I robbed a bank. I am in real trouble. People died. I don’t know what to do. I’m so, so sorry! Please don’t cry.”
But then her time was up, the phone went dead and as she slid down the wall to the floor, her tears welled up and over her eyes, down her cheeks and finally she let it out, the wail of horror for all she had experienced, all she had witnessed, all that she had done, and all that she had lost in those few short minutes.
This was a day like none that had ever come before it. This was a day no one could have predicted for her future, and yet here it was happening, now, and it was very, very real. Too real.
© MemeesMusings/B.L. Memee, 2015-2017. All rights reserved.
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The above short story was inspired by Author S B Mazing’s blog event Finish It, which began as a Blogging201 assignment meant to further expand our blogging experiences as well as our strength of community. Join her event to experiment with a story prompt and give your fingers a shot at short storytelling… every Wednesday she’ll provide a new prompt!