She walked briskly towards the door, and a young man shoved past her and into the building. She frowned, but assumed he was just in a hurry. She started to open the door to the bank machine, when she noticed the small sign "Machine Out Of Order, Please Use Teller". She peered inside the tinted windows and saw the huge line-up. She sighed, and opened the main door.
Amy looked at her watch. Quarter to two. The line moved forward slightly. The person now talking to the teller was the agitated young man. He was speaking to the woman behind the desk angrily, but Amy couldn't make out what he was saying.
Then he pulled a gun.
The other patrons were just as quick to notice the weapon, and even those who didn't were alerted by the teller's scream.
"Everybody down!" the man yelled, firing into the ceiling. Amy dove, her heart stopping. Everything seemed to slow down, as though she wasn't really there but watching a replay in super- slow motion. We'll be okay, she thought to herself. We'll be okay.
"You!" the man yelled. "Get to your feet!"
Amy looked up hesitantly. He was pointing to her, and very carefully, she got to her feet, her hands up in surrender.
"Come over here," he ordered, holding his hand out. When she came close enough he grabbed her and yanked her to him, holding his arm around his neck and the gun to her head. "You're my insurance."
Amy couldn't say anything. Her mind was screaming around in circles, it was stalled, and she couldn't think. All she could do was react. She elbowed him sharply in the chest, and he yelped, so she stood on his foot and kneed him sharply and he doubled over. She leapt out of his reach, when he straightened back up and aimed the gun. Startled, she tried get through the doors when she heard the gun go off. Then she felt a tremendous pressure in the back of her brain, and then everything went black.
Amy Jensen looked through her purse. She might as well stop at the bank while she was out. It was only a little ways from where she was anyway. Might as well.
She spotted the sign long before she was close enough to read it. "Machine Out Of Order, Please Use Teller". Sighing, she opened the main door to the bank, ready to use the tellers.
There was already a long line-up. She sighed, and checked her watch. Quarter to Two. She had to be home by three, otherwise Michelle would be locked out of the house. Amy laughed herself. Why did she think she'd be longer than a few minutes, at most?
The line moved forward slightly, as a young man took his turn at the teller. He was agitated, and arguing with her about something that Amy couldn't pick up.
But she picked it up clearly enough when he drew his gun. The teller screamed, and most of the patrons gasped as well. Amy felt stunned.
"Everybody down!" the man shouted, firing into the ceiling. The other customers dropped in a sheer panic, but Amy lowered herself carefully, feeling supernaturally calm. It was though she was so panicked that it cancelled the feeling out completely; the way very hot water can sometimes feel cold.
"You! To your feet!" the man yelled at her. She couldn't see him, but knew he was yelling at her. She looked up at him, and got to her feet, very slowly and carefully. She didn't want to provoke him. She needed to calm him down. "Come over here," he ordered.
"This isn't necessary," she said quietly. He looked at her with a stunned silence. "It's not necessary to frighten these people."
"What do you know?" he snapped, waving the gun.
"I know that everything can be solved without violence," she continued, not moving forward an inch but keeping her hands where he could see them.
"Talking doesn't solve everything," he told her.
"You're right. It doesn't. But it solves a lot, and violence solves nothing." She held her arms out, to show him that she could be trusted.
He laughed. "Robbing this bank will solve my problems," he retorted.
She shook her head slightly. She felt so calm, and so in control of herself. "It won't. It'll cause problems, and I know you know that."
"You don't know anything about me!" he roared, gesturing at her with the gun. She refused to flinch.
"I know that you're a human being," she said slowly, "and all human beings know what's right and what's wrong. It's what they choose to do that makes all the difference."
He stared at her, not quite sure what to make of all this. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. He was starting to get confused, and bewildered. She took a very slow and steady step towards him.
"There's no need to make more trouble for yourself," Amy continued. "There's no need to make trouble for any one."
Outside the window she could see a police car pulling up. The teller must have thrown the alarm. The young man couldn't see out the window, his back was to it.
"I don't want this to be trouble. You're making it trouble!" he yelled, sounding very much like Amy's Michelle when the girl was younger, and upset with herself. And confused as to what to do.
Amy was only a few steps from him now. He still held out the gun, but he was trembling, and she reached up, very slowly and calmly, and took the gun from him.
He sagged when she did that, as though all his strings had been cut.
The other customers looked to each other with surprise and happiness. Amy gestured out the window the gathered police, and they stormed in.
"You're very lucky, Mrs. Jensen," the officer said, holding out a styrofoam cup of coffee. "Very lucky. That gun was loaded, he could have very easily killed you."
"I know," she said simply. "But the strange part was--I wasn't frightened at all. I was very calm, and everything stood out very clear in my mind. I knew exactly what to do, what to say."
He nodded. "Do you believe in guardian angels, Mrs. Jensen? Because I believe you had one looking out for you, and all the other people in there."
"Actually, no I don't," she replied. "I sort of....well, I believe in a kind of reincarnation."
He looked at her dubiously. "I believe," she continued, smiling to herself, "that if we make a mistake, a truly terrible mistake, we're allowed to go back and try it again, to make it right."
The officer laughed a little, obviously not believing her at all. But she didn't mind. As she wrapped her fingers around the warm soothing cup, she felt entirely at peace, and nothing really bothered her at all.