Some days, my life is like the shittiest “Choose Your Own Adventure” story ever. I think about the day I had a man’s life in my hands.

“Shoot him if he makes one wrong move”, I was told. I said okay, but my mind was racing. I have no idea what I was thinking, but I assume I had nothing but fear in my eyes because the detainee started talking to me. He’d heard I was from Virginia and we started talking about places that we missed about it.

Now, I know what I was thinking. My mind was trying to process “what’s a wrong move?”. Reaching in his pocket? Lunging towards me? Shifting his weight? At what point was it okay to draw my weapon? What would happen if I did? Was I ready to take a life? What if he was just reaching for his prayer beads? What if he had a makeshift weapon? Was I prepared be either a hero or a felon?

I still find myself waking up from nightmares about that day. It always starts the same, but the ending is always different. I try to wake myself up before I have to make the choice, but often times I see myself taking the shot. On those nights, it never ends well. In the nightmare, I end up hating myself. On days that I wake up before I take the shot, I worry about the unknown.