The Unexpected Decision
By Danette L. Key

There are a lot of personal experiences out there where people each day have overcome a fear. So my story may not be a big deal to the average reader. But it was a big deal to me. However, I can’t decide if it changed my life significantly or not. See if you agree when I tell you why.

Three shots! Three shots and some yelling along with it is what I heard that day.  Some screaming and then silence! Back in the office with me, as a natural response, my coworker ran out to see what was happening. I knew what had happened, three shots from a gun and my coworkers were dead. Should I run out of my office too and confront a killer?  I felt like a coward, but dying is not what I had planned for my life. Because of that decision, I am here to tell this story.

I have always been the kind of woman that hated confrontation; the woman who ignores it when someone says something mean or cuts in front of her, a woman who cowers down behind others when a group is taking sides. I don’t take sides; I’m a push-over, a follower. So I was amazed how I finally stood up to this maniac in my own way and why I realized that in all of us we possess a tenacity we don’t always understand.

The human spirit. It is an amazing thing.

I quickly turned out my light in my office, shut the door quietly and switched off my computer. There was no lock on my door. Why would I ever think I would need one? I looked around trying to determine what to do.

My office was a basic square office with a glass block wall for one side of the room. It is painted beige, a soothing color with beautiful paintings of flowers decorating the walls; a large picture proudly displayed by a sister of her Marine brother in his Class A uniform next to it.  Beautiful.  A large oak desk takes up most of the space in the small room, designed to hide my waste basket and CPU from the customer, some people might call it a vanity panel. The items on my desk are simple. I like simple. You never know when the boss is going to walk in and fire you or lay you off!  Uncomplicated and simple, that’s who I am.
As I listened to more screams and two more shots I realized that the assassin had gone to the other side of the office, it was a small office, and soon he would be making his way towards me! The office had a terrifying echo.  I secretly wished I had already been fired!

I edged under my desk then. I cuddled up in a ball and waited to die, the coward’s way. I was just being who I am. I decided to try and make myself less noticeable by grabbing the small, black wire waste basket under my desk and putting it in front of me. Tucked in the corner under my desk, a waste basket in front protecting me, lights and computer off, I prayed the executioner would assume the person in this room had gone home for the day.  I held my breath.

My whole life flashed before me. When they say that in stories, it’s really true! I saw who I had become. My parents always controlling my life, telling me what I needed to learn, what to practice and who to love. I listened and let them run my life. They were always right; after all, they were my parents. They made all the decisions for me, I never had to worry it was the wrong decision.

Sometimes I did resent it. But when I was feeling a bit resentful, I saw that they made those decisions for me because they loved me.

My mother helped me get this job, in fact. She researched and researched and decided this was the best for me. She was right. I loved my job! It was perfect for who I was and my skills. I felt confident and worthy to live up to Mother’s expectations.

The office was quiet and I wondered where the exterminator was now. Feeling safe, my thoughts went back to my life.

My apartment was different. It was so hard to decide which one was the best for me. My dad finally stepped in and got me an apartment in a complex a friend of his owned. All I had to do was go in and sign some papers. It was perfect for me.  Now I could relax, be on my own and learn to feel confident. My dad made a great decision.

I remembered Michael, the love of my life, who left me, of course. He said he was leaving me because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. Either marry him or not! After five years of dating, I just couldn’t decide to marry him.  It was too hard and I didn’t want to make the wrong decision! 

It’s really my parents’ fault.  They both died in a tragic car accident half way through our relationship.  I was devastated!  Being the only child they had left; I had no idea what to do. My trusted decision-makers had left me! Luckily, my mother had already arranged both their funerals and burial plots years before, so I could just attend and not have to think about what has to be done. This gave me the freedom to grieve and nothing else.

After that I moved into their house and gave up my apartment my dad picked out. It was a hard decision. No one came around to help me decide. I found making decisions was difficult. I struggled with the simplest things. What bill to pay first, what to go through and throw out, what to do at night, what to make for dinner. Mom had always helped me organize my day to help me make the most efficient use of my time. Even though, little by little, it became easier, everyday was still a challenge.

Eight months later, I’m crouched over, hiding under my desk in terror! The front of this desk giving me protection I needed; my back up against the inside of the desk.  This one thing made it easier to hear anyone coming inside my room as I hid.

Slowly, I felt a small breeze seep under the desk just below my waist. Someone opened my door! I started to pray that the assassin would see nothing and close the door. I held my breath and closed my eyes tight; concentrating on every little noise I could hear to determine the assassin’s next move. Even through my clenched eye lids I could feel the lights being turned on.  I opened my eyes and prayed over and over, “Don’t find me, don’t find me, turn back, turn back!”  

No matter how much I prayed to myself, he was in my room!

I could hear a small scrape of his shoe on my carpet as he slowly walked to the side of my desk. I prayed even harder this time to a God I did not know. Prolonging my terror even more, the executioner stopped.

Perhaps he was admiring my beautiful pictures of flowers on the wall.  Perhaps the photos of my family on the top of my desk and side table. Perhaps he was looking at the picture of my Marine brother hanging next to the flowers. Perhaps he was a Marine himself and he was thinking of how he also died in Afghanistan like my brother.  Or maybe he was thinking there was no one in this room.

This is what I hoped most of all.

I don’t know what he was thinking, but he dragged it out for what appeared several minutes, but in reality was only a few seconds. Because then he bent over and looked right in my eyes!!!!

With a deep breath and all the energy I could muster, I grabbed the wire waste basket on each side with both of my hands and rammed it into his shins, HARD!  I was scared, but I was not going to die! This was a decision I could make on my own with no help!

He fell back, not expecting, I believe, to be attacked when he bent over. He must have lost his balance and hit his head on the picture frame of my Marine brother because he immediately fell over on his side. Having a brother in the Marines was indeed a blessing that day!

I jumped up, hopped over the attacker and climbed over my desk not worrying about being a lady like my mother had taught me and ran as hard as I could out the front door and kept running, never looking back!

I never did go back, you know. I never wanted to. This was my decision. But I learned something about myself that day. I needed to quit being fearful of making the wrong decisions. Maybe it was wrong to hide under my desk that day. Maybe had I ran out, I could have helped my coworkers over power this beast. I will never know, but this must not keep me from making decisions and facing the consequences, or hopefully, reaping the rewards.

It must not. It will not.

Two weeks later, I received the picture of my brother in the mail.