The Girls I've Been

The Girls I've Been

Tess Sharpe

Part One

Truth Is a Weapon

   (The First 87 Minutes)

— 1 —

August 8, 9:09 a.m.

It was supposed to be twenty minutes.

That’s what I told myself when I woke up that morning. It would be just twenty minutes. We’d meet in the bank parking lot, we’d go in, we’d make the deposit, and it would be awkward, it would be so awkward, but it would be twenty minutes, tops.

I could survive twenty minutes with my ex-boyfriend and new girlfriend. I could handle the awkwardness. I was a freaking champ.

I even got donuts, thinking maybe that would help smooth things over after last night’s make-out interruptus, which I know is downplaying what happened. I get fried dough can’t fix everything, but still. Everyone loves donuts. Especially when they have sprinkles . . . or bacon. Or both. So I get the donuts—and coffee, because Iris is basically a grizzly bear unless she downs some caffeine in the morning—and of course, that makes me late. By the time I pull up to the bank, they’re both already there.

Wes is out of his truck, tall and blond and leaning against the chipped tailgate, the bank envelope with all the cash from last night next to him. Iris is lounging on the hood of her Volvo in her watercolor dress, her curls swinging as she plays with that lighter she found on the railroad tracks. She’s gonna set her brush-out on fire one of these days, I swear to God.

“You’re late” is the first thing Wes says when I get out of my car.

“I brought donuts.” I hand Iris her coffee, and she hops off the hood.


“Can we just get this over with?” he asks. He doesn’t even look at the donuts. My stomach clenches. Are we really back to this? How can we be back to this, after everything?

I press my lips together, trying not to look too annoyed. “Fine.” I put the bakery box back in my car. “Let’s go.” I snatch up the envelope from his tailgate.

The bank’s just opened, so there are only two people ahead of us. Iris fills out the deposit slip, and I stand in line with Wes right behind me.

The line moves as Iris walks over with the slip, taking the envelope from me and tucking it into her purse. She looks warily at Wes, then at me.

I bite my lip. Just a few more minutes.

Iris sighs. “Look,” she says to Wes, propping her hands on her hips. “I understand that the way you found out wasn’t great. But—”

That’s when Iris is interrupted.

But not by Wes.

No, Iris gets interrupted by the guy in front of us. Because the guy in front of us? He chooses that moment to pull out a gun and start robbing the freaking bank.

The first thing I think is Shit! The second thing I think is Get down. And the third thing I think is We’re all gonna die because I waited for the bacon donuts.

— 2 —

9:12 a.m. (15 seconds captive)

The robber—white guy, six feet, maybe, brown jacket, black T-shirt, red ball cap, pale eyes and brows—yells, “GET ON THE FLOOR!”—you know, like bank robbers do. We hit the floor. It’s like everyone in that bank is a puppet and he’s cut all our strings.

I can’t breathe around it for a second, this giant lump of fear in my stomach, chest, and throat. It burns and snags in the soft parts of me, and I want to cough, but I’m scared that’ll draw his attention.

You never want to draw their attention. I know this because this isn’t the first time I’ve been here. I mean, I’ve never been in the middle of a bank robbery, but sometimes it feels like I was born in the line of fire.

When someone points a gun at you, it’s not like in the movies. There are no brave moments in those first seconds. It’s bone-shaking, pants-peeing scary. Iris’s arm presses against mine, and I can feel her trembling. I want to reach out and grab her hand, but I stop myself. What if he thinks I’m reaching for a weapon? Everyone and their mother has guns in Clear Creek. I can’t risk it.

Wes is tense on my other side, and it takes me a second to realize why. Because he’s getting ready to spring at the guy—that’s my ex for you. Wes is instinctual and heroic, and has such bad judgment when it comes to tricky situations.

This time, I do move. I have to—Wes will get himself shot otherwise. I grab his thigh and dig my nails into his skin, right under the hem of his shorts. His head jerks toward me, and I glare at him, a Don’t you dare do it look. I shake my head once and glare more. I can practically see the But, Nora . . . in his raised eyebrows until he finally slumps down, defeated.

Okay. Okay. Breathe. Focus.

The robber. He’s shouting at the teller. The teller—is there only one? why is there only one?—is a middle-aged blond lady with glasses looped on an aqua chain. My mind’s in overdrive, noting things like I’ll need them later.

He’s shouting about the bank manager. It’s hard to hear because the teller is full-out sobbing. She’s all shaking hands and red cheeks, and there is no way the silent alarm got pushed unless she did it by accident. With the gun in her face, she’s in full-on panic mode.

Can’t blame her. You never know how you’re going to react until the gun’s out.

Tess Sharpe's Books