I wanted to draw a comic about what I experienced on Tuesday night, but I’m struggling to find the imagery that really conveys what it was like. I’ve never been one that’s good at journal comics, I guess. I find real life very hard to convey.

I decided, instead, I’d just use the site as a platform to talk about it. Maybe that will help me put it behind me a bit.

So, here we go.

Tuesday night — like many Tuesday nights — started with my husband and I going to the laundromat. We have a routine. Grab tacos while our clothes are in the wash and then I’ll run to Walmart to get some basic groceries while he watches the dryer.

So, that’s exactly what we did.

As I was locking my car and walking through the parking lot, I felt a little uneasy. There’s been a string of carjackings and robberies in Walmart parking lots lately and most of the victims had been women. I’ve never been someone that was scared to be alone at night, so this feeling was new. I reassured myself that I’m fine, I can take care of myself and that I’m perfectly safe to go to the store alone.

I only needed to get soda and a couple of snacks, but I decided to linger much longer in the store than I should. I had forgotten my cell phone and was dreading having to go back to the laundromat and stare at the dryer. So I decided to peruse the grocery aisles at a leisurely pace — you know, I had to take in all of that sweet holiday candy.

As I made my way to the front of the store, I stopped in the bakery aisle to buy a cake pop. I thought about grabbing cookies, but willed myself onward to the self-checkout.

It was when I lifted my card to pay that things got weird.

A policeman suddenly tackled a guy RIGHT BEHIND ME. I mean, it was close enough that I felt the wind swoosh as they flew through the air. I didn’t really pay it much mind though, I mean, shoplifters are incredibly common at Walmart. Through the corner of my eye, I noticed another man running into the store with a policeman following him.

Seconds later is when the bang happened.

I assumed that maybe a worker had dropped a pallet or a box really close to me. I had no idea that it was. . .

“HE HAS A GUN!”

That’s a phrase you never want to hear, especially in a crowded store. From the sound of the gunshot, the shooter was very close to me. If I had to guess, maybe within twelve yards? There is a partition shielding the self-checkout, so I couldn’t see what was going on.

I’ve always wondered how well I would respond in a crisis situation. I can honestly say NOT WELL.

I started to run for the door, but after a few steps, I paused and realized I’d forgotten my things. Why would I go back for soda and a bag of snacks? I DON’T KNOW, but I sure did.

So now I’m running from a guy with a gun with a 24 pack of soda. In the panic, I dropped my wallet in the doorway. I was just going to leave it, but I couldn’t risk this lady getting shot because of my clumsiness, so I scrambled to help her pick it all up.

If this lady got shot because of me, I could never forgive myself.

As I started to run again, an old man called out to me because I had missed one of my credit cards on the ground.

Thanks dude, but seriously, GET OUT OF THE STORE.

The run through the parking lot felt like an eternity. I couldn’t remember where I parked, I was panicking and I also felt like I had to warn everyone that was getting out of their cars.

My mind was just racing.

I don’t have my cell phone. What if I get shot and I can’t tell A.J. that I’m dying?

What if I can’t tell my friends and family how much I love them. . .

What if I dropped my ID back there and didn’t realize it? What if they can’t identify my body?

I hope Eyeshadow Girl is okay. (A.J.’s friend that works at the store, I couldn’t remember her name.)

Where did I park? Why can’t I ever remember where I park!?

Man, I’m out of shape. 24 packs of soda are heavy.

I just want A.J. I want to get to A.J.

Luckily, running straight to the back of the store served me well and I managed to auto-pilot myself to my car. Once I got inside, I had a panic attack and sped the hell out of the parking lot.

Everything was fine. I got to A.J. pretty fast and he helped me calm down. After he went to work, my mom and my best friend Steve kept me company until I could fall asleep.

I found out later that I wasn’t really in much danger. The shooter was a kid wanted for an attempted murder in California. The gunshot was a single shot that he fired at the officer chasing him. Fortunately, it didn’t hit anyone and he didn’t continue shooting.

Unfortunately, he managed to reach the back door of the store and escape. They still haven’t caught him.

People haven’t really figured out how to talk to me about it and I’m not sure how I feel at this point. Being in public doing innocuous things now triggers anxiety in me. Sudden noises, loud voices and groups of strangers now have me incredibly tense.

I’m taking it one day at a time. I went for a walk downtown with my husband tonight, even though it made me uncomfortable.

I’ve just got to find normal again. I hope it won’t take long.

Anyway, I’m sorry for the lack of updates this week. I’m really. . . not wanting to draw guns or fighting right now. I want to give myself a couple of days to really recouperate (it’s been just over a day as of writing this).

I will be back in full force next week.