She glanced furtively around to see if anyone was watching.
Her heart pounded and she marveled over the fact that it was still strong enough to do that. She never felt so alive as she did during these moments.
She quietly slipped the bottle of pink glitter into her pocket and walked down three aisles to the crochet hooks. She loitered, pretending to browse until the woman at the knitting needles moved on and rounded the far corner, then slipped three “H” hooks into another pocket.
That’s enough for today.
She shifted the purse she wore over her shoulder, pressing it closer to her body, and strode purposefully to the front of the store.
“Thanks for coming in…,” the cashier called after her as she passed through the sliding doors. Her face was assaulted by the blast of heat that barreled off of the black asphalt as she hurried to her car.
Goosebumps rose on her arms.
It was not until she was over halfway home that she relaxed enough to smile. She laughed then rolled down the window. Hot wind whipped through her hair as she tossed the glitter and crochet hooks out the window of her ancient, rusted silver minivan.
Maybe I should have wiped off the fingerprints? Oh, well. Too late now…
She knew this small fry was not going to be enough for much longer. She ached to try something else.
There was something even bigger that haunted her dreams at night…
At the elementary school she joined the long line of soccer moms. She hated this waiting every afternoon. Standing still was torture as the van’s AC barely worked. Eventually, though, her son was scrambling into the vehicle as a teacher closed the door and waved.
“Hi, mom!” he said as he buckled in.
“Hi, hon!” She smiled into the rear view mirror. “How was your day?”
His excited words swirled around her head, not quite penetrating into her consciousness as she drove home. Her mind was elsewhere as it always was these days.
In the kitchen she poured herself a tall glass of ice water and took her afternoon pills one by one.
She went through the motions of preparing and eating dinner, asking her husband about his day and pretending to be interested. When everyone was in bed she lay awake, her fingers tingling.
The compulsion to take what was not hers. Where had it come from so suddenly?
This heart was not hers.
The next morning, after dropping the boy at school, she drove to the mall. She walked around and around. Macy’s. Neiman Marcus. Tiffany’s. L’ Occitane. Agent Provocateur.
She didn’t really care that she could not afford them. She was just glad to be alive.
The thrill of the stealing, that she could not resist. Not since the surgery. None of these little luxuries would suffice now. Everyday she loathed who she had become, filled with shame each time she stole. Today she knew what she had to do in order to find peace.
She lunched alone at La Madeleine, the closest she would ever get to France, then texted her husband to tell him that he would need to pick up their son at school.
The drive to the bank occured in a trance like state, each turn felt like one she had taken countless times before.
Maybe he had?
She pulled the toy gun from her son’s bedroom out of her purse in the lobby and asked a clerk to put money into a bag. Her hands shook. Fearful screams rang in her ears as everyone ducked or ran. She turned around to quickly survey the lobby as the woman shoved bills into her sack but a shot exploded into her chest. She realized that her legs would no longer hold her up.
Where was the pain? Wasn’t there supposed to be pain?
Blood soaked her blouse as she crumpled to the floor. She felt the life seeping out of her.
Someone ran to her side and ripped open the shirt to survey the damage. She could hear someone else calling 911. They could all see the scar that split her in two, the scar from the heart transplant two years ago.
She felt played.
That was when Jason Lockhart, III died the second time, right there on that same floor. He had died once two years before as he tried to rob that bank and again now in someone else’s body doing the same.