Shy scoots closer to my cage. “I’m so sorry, Michael. I couldn’t sit here and watch you die,” she explains, hoping I’ll understand.
“Do you know what you’ve done?”
“I saved your life,” she says, getting defensive.
“Why is my life more important than the hundred plus you’ve just condemned to death?”
“I’m sorry,” she says, again, but she isn’t sorry at all. I see it in her eyes. I see it in her body language.
“Don’t apologize, Shy. Do better. Be better,” I stress.
“Be better?” she questions. “And what would you have done if the roles were reversed? Would you have sat there and watched him put a bullet in my head?”
“Now isn’t the time. We have to get out of here,” is all I say, because to say the truth; which, is I would’ve killed them all, isn’t something I’m ready to admit out loud.
“It’s never the time when I need answers, Michael.”
“Fine,” I say, taking a deep breath. “It kills me to see you like this, brought to your knees. I need you to be stronger than them. Not just for your sake, but for mine. You have a tremendous heart, Shy, and I’m afraid it will be your downfall,” I confess.
My fingers find hers as they poke through her cage into mine. The feel of her skin on mine steals some of that rage inside of me.
“I want to be strong for you, Michael. The way you’re strong for me. You give me what I need to get through. You’re my safe haven. My place of retreat. I hope someday you’ll tell me where you draw your strength from,” she says.
I lean against the cage, closing my eyes. “No, you don’t.”
It isn’t right that I’m that place for her. She has a whole lifetime of happy memories. I’m the one who introduced the darkness. I don’t deserve to be her safe haven.
“I want you to know something, Shy.” I open my eyes, looking at her. Her breath quickens.
“I would die to protect you,” I confess, sitting up straighter.
There’s no more time for sentimentality. We need out, now. I fidget with my vest until a thin piece of metal comes free.