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A nurse changed her IV and wrote something in marker – vital signs, she thought – on her forehead. “It’s really hard to breathe,” she said, but in a hospital that would treat 199 patients from the festival that night, nobody had time to care for her yet. One victim after another sped by atop gurneys, their wheels streaking a tile floor that had transformed from beige to red. The air smelled of iron. “Watch out. Watch out,” she heard. “Cardiac arrest,” she heard.
Natalia thought about discount dance shoes her sister, It was in this hospital where their lives had begun, Where Gianna had been born first, crying, and Natalia had come out a minute later, making no noise at all, Where the doctors had been forced to resuscitate her because she wasn’t breathing, Where the girls had gone home, together, after just four days in recovery, stronger than anyone expected, Natalia closed her eyes, “Talia!” she heard a voice call, She looked up, and there, atop another gurney, was her twin..
“What happened?” asked Gianna, her left thigh bleeding from a bullet that had passed straight through it. Natalia motioned to her shoulder. “I love you,” Gianna said. “I love you,” her sister responded. The Monday morning sunlight leaked through the shades and into hospital room 272, where Natalia had spent the night in intensive care. A brace was wrapped around her neck, and on her face, a clear tube fed oxygen into both nostrils. Hours earlier, another tube that drained air and blood seeping from her punctured lung had been shoved between two ribs as Natalia, screaming, clenched a nurse’s hand.
The bullet, she would learn, had traveled the distance of four football fields, pierced her right shoulder blade and fragmented, Slivers of metal had scattered throughout her chest cavity, slitting the lung, but missing her arteries, her trachea, her heart, A larger chunk of shrapnel, however, had veered to the left after impact, burrowing beneath her skin and over her spine before it struck Natalia’s opposite shoulder blade, fracturing that one, too, A change in the bullet’s trajectory of just centimeters might have killed her, but here she was with her sister, discount dance shoes who was lying on a recliner nearby, gauze wrapped around her left thigh..
Now Natalia just wanted to sleep, so she closed her eyes. Then came a sound so clear in her mind that, for a moment, she swore it had to be real: gunshots. Before he killed himself in Room 32135 at Mandalay Bay, Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds, injuring at least 450 people for reasons that remain unknown. But the wounds from the worst mass shooting in modern American history weren’t only physical. Among the most traumatized was Marie. Even after she and Summer left the church parking lot and made it to the safety of their homes, Marie couldn’t shake a debilitating sense of dread. Too distraught to sleep alone, she asked her mother to lie in bed with her until morning.
At 7:15, the 16-year-old’s phone buzzed with a text from Summer, who had just learned about the enormity discount dance shoes of what they survived: “Omfg 50+ dead, I can’t believe this.”, “Oh my god summer, I woke up crying so many times,” Marie texted back, unable to imagine going to school that day, But Shae, who’d gotten home at 4 a.m., had never considered not going, She knew her parents would work on the investigation all day, and she didn’t want to stay home alone, She’d be fine, Shae told herself..
She put on leggings beneath a pink nightgown, because it was “Pajama Day” at Faith, and headed to school, where she walked into her first class and approached her British literature teacher. “I don’t have my homework because it’s in my car,” Shae said, explaining that it was still parked at the crime scene. “I’m really surprised that you’re even here,” her teacher replied. Shae joined her classmates in the high school gym for an impromptu assembly.
“It’s not the ideal way to start homecoming week,” Dan Buikema, Faith’s guidance director, told the 1,100 students, who listened in silence, He updated them on Natalia and Gianna but said he knew the massacre’s impact on Faith would extend well beyond the twins, The school was still trying to determine the number of students who had attended the concert, eventually counting 10, The youngest, an eighth-grader, had tripped on a body discount dance shoes while fleeing with her mother and was left covered in blood..