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Madison was on her way back to her apartment in Manhattan. It was almost eleven p.m. and the night sky was rapidly approaching. She was almost home, though she would rather not be. She had dropped her daughter off at Wendell and Daisy’s house earlier that day and she hated going back to an empty apartment. There was always hope that her boyfriend, Keith, would be there. She had stalled it for as long as she could; going shopping with her mom Andrea, then taking the longer way home. The cab had dropped her fifteen blocks back because that was all she could afford, but she only had two blocks left until she reached her place. Madison was vaguely aware of someone not too far behind her, but hey, it was Manhattan on a Saturday night. There were plenty of people around. This just felt different somehow.
Her heeled boots clicked loudly against the sidewalk, the sounds of people setting off to go out partying quite distinct; the fast tapping of heels and giggling from excited New Yorkers. Madison gave a disgruntled sigh as she walked, still aware that there was someone following her. She was about three minutes from home so she didn’t turn round. She turned a corner onto the end of her street. There were very few people around that area, just old Mrs. Hughes taking her cat outside and a few neighbors she didn’t know. Madison waved a gloved hand at her. Mrs. Hughes briefly acknowledged Madison before turning away to talk to her cat. Madison increased her speed, wanting to escape the harsh cold. She pulled her coat tighter around her, thinking of Livvy, probably snug in her bed by now. Suddenly, whoever was behind her stopped moving. She carried on walking, but turned her head to see behind her. There was the definite shape of a man a short distance behind her he turned his head and the streetlight illuminated his face: square jaw, crooked nose, cold eyes. Madison recognized him but couldn’t think why. Something didn’t seem quite right as Madison remembered telling Wendell that she knew something bad was going to happen. Maybe it would be tonight. She ignored her instincts and kept walking.
She was closely approaching her steps when all of a sudden, a bullet flew past her. She screamed, as did a few other people who had materialized from the dark. As shocked and terrified as she was, she managed to run as fast as she could. She could hear the thumping of heavy boots behind her and feel the thumping of her heart. She was wobbling on her heels but she kept going. She was determined not to die that day. The thumping of feet grew ever so slightly fainter; she was outrunning the gunman. She ran past her building, not wanting to have to fumble around unlocking the door. She would surely be killed.
She went over and over in her mind why the man looked familiar, then it came to her.
“It’s Max!” she shouted out, to no-one in particular. Nobody heard her through their screaming. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t recognized Max instantly. If he was intent on killing her, she wanted him to be caught. She was trying to think what she’d done wrong to make Max want to kill her, but nothing came to mind.
All color fell from her face as she heard another shot fired a split second before she crumpled to the ground. Pain seared through her body as she screamed. She felt her body hitting the pavement, her arms folding awkwardly beneath her. She hoped she might live. Her breathing became raspy; the pain was becoming increasingly unbearable. She could hear what was going on around her, people running away, their screams and shouts for help filling the night air. She moved her left arm from underneath her. It was covered in her own dark blood, seeping through the sleeve of her coat. Too much blood, she thought. It was dripping off her arm onto the pavement in rhythmic droplets. She managed to pull her cell-phone out of her pocket. She speed-dialed Wendell’s cell but it went straight to his answering machine.
“He’s going to kill me, Wendell, Max is going to kill me,” if she died, she wanted someone to know who did it. “Tell Livvy that,” Madison stopped to cough, blood spraying out of her mouth, “I love her,” she finished, her voice cracking. It was becoming impossible to breathe. She knew she was on death’s doorstep; the pain was so intense, she wished she could just die instead of having this prolonged suffering. There was so much she hadn’t done, so much Olivia still had to learn from her. She never said goodbye to anyone. The last thing she’d said to Livvy was that she’d see her in two days. She could feel her eyes welling up with tears as the thought settled in; ‘I’m going to die tonight.'
As she tried to lift her body to move her other arm, she heard those same heavy footsteps approaching her. She stopped trying to move, dropping back down on her arm, yelping in pain. Then it was as if everything had gone into slow-motion. She heard the clicks of the barrel of a gun being reloaded slowly, tortuously. It was then that she knew she was going to die. Her breaths were quick and painful. She closed her eyes, praying that someone would come to her rescue her. Max’s steady breaths were directly above her. Strangers were shouting out to call 911, to try and save her life. He was torturing her, making her wait for death. He knew that she knew it was coming, but only he knew when.
“Why are you doing this, Max?” she asked. She was going to die anyway so she might as well know why.
Max caught his breath.
“You’re not supposed to remember me,” Max growled, his voice harsh. It had been thirty years since Madison had last seen Max, but it was definitely him and he had just confirmed it.
“Just let me live, please let me live,” Madison only just managed to get her words out. Even if he didn’t shoot again, she would die anyway.
“I’m sorry, Maddie,” Max whispered, his words barely audible. The next thing she heard was Max running away, leaving her to die. No ambulance had arrived even though so many people knew she needed help.
Madison heard footsteps running towards her from the other direction, the direction she had been headed in.
“Madison!” cried out a male voice. It was Keith.
“Maddie,” he breathed, kneeling down beside her. Madison could feel herself fading away. Keith rolled her over onto her front. Her skin was deathly pale; all color had escaped from her lips. The front of her coat was stained with her deep red blood, along with her hands. Still knelt on the sidewalk, Keith picked up Madison, one arm under her knees, the other across the back of her shoulders.
1 month ago
“Maddie,” he whispered again, his tears dripping onto Maddie’s bloodied coat.
“Don’t let me die,” she whimpered, straining to keep her eyes open. She could hardly believe that she was still alive. The pain was so strong, yet still nobody had arrived to take it away. Keith held Maddie close to him. She closed her eyes, trying to escape the pain. She was drifting in and out of consciousness.
“Don’t die on me Maddie, you’ll be ok, please don’t die on me,” Keith cried, tears now pouring down his cheeks. They both heard the ambulance sirens coming closer and closer, too late to save Madison.
“I can’t do it,” Madison spoke her last words as her drawn out suffering finally came to a close. She was finally bundled into the ambulance after lying on the sidewalk for what felt like hours, only to die before she even reached the hospital.
Keith's tears slowly washed some of Maddie's blood off his face, but he would always be stained, even if it was only a memory. Nothing could wipe that from his mind; the day his girlfriend died in his arms.