I felt safe for seven seconds of my life. The sweetest seven seconds, never before or since. My body, covered by an unbreakable shield. My mind, silent, except for the cracks and bangs sparking the surrounding air. He breathed, once, twice, coughed and sputtered, then three - one last time as blood stained around the hole in his chest, around us, in me. I would never shake loose the image of his blood, a horror film to myself, to play over and over. But those seven seconds felt like heaven. Untouchable, while hell unleashed itself from a stranger’s hand. From their whim. I never laid eyes, shrouded by my guard, before a lucky shot silenced the cracks in grim echoes. I knew only a couple of things then: I knew the shooter must be dead and I would never stick my gum under the table again. In case I had to cower beneath another desk, it couldn’t stare at me for another seven seconds, and I wouldn’t have to ask myself if it was me. If I had just thrown my gum in the trash like he asked, would this have never happened? Would he still be alive?