Jamie knew that scowl, she had seen it many times since John had returned from Asia. She had even researched and found a condition called “reverse culture shock” that can occur when people return home from overseas after many years. Now she wondered what happened to her old friend. Maybe if she could reach him, the old John would return. She tried to dig deeper, and asked “If you miss China, why don’t you just go back?”
“Listen Jamie, please do not go there, I told you I am fine. The USA is my home now, and I will readjust.”
“I am not trying to push you, but at least tell me, honestly, what is the thing you miss most about Beijing?”
John wiped the scowl from his face, realizing that she just wanted to help.
“Well,” John said softly, “actually this may sound strange, but I miss the fact that in China, there are no guns.”
Jamie started to speak, when John abruptly headed for the door. “I need a walk. Did you say you wanted eggs?” Jamie nodded, and John quickly exited toward the neighborhood market.
The fresh air felt good. The smell of springtime surrounded the sidewalk, almost as if the air itself were running from the toxic fumes of the passing cars. This market was unique, with a nice large green lawn, and beautiful cherry trees that had been there for years.
Arriving on the lawn, John heard “Stop, no!” A paralyzing scream. Then another scream, and then several gunshots. He slowly sank to the ground. In a daze, he heard sirens and radios in the distance. “Active Shooter Alert” blasted over a loud speaker. He struggled to breathe, as the blood gushed from his chest. For a moment time stopped, as he gazed up at the sky. He saw an eagle flying, reminding him of his birthplace, America, the land of the free.
As he gasped, and took his last breath, he collapsed onto his back. Looking up, he saw the beautiful cherry blossoms, almost like heaven, in full bloom, a sign of eternal spring.