It was after midnight.
We were finishing (a semi-late) dinner at an outside tapas restaurant in San Antonio, Ibiza. It was mid-August– high tourist season, although our neighborhood was still quiet. There were a few people around us, enjoying similar meals at surrounding tables.
We were sitting there, sipping our sangria, trying to convince each other that we both wanted to go to the night club for 1 am to get our free entry, after having spent the morning shopping at the Hippy Market in Es Cana and the evening sipping champagne and dancing on a boat while the sunset.
But then, suddenly, in an instant, everything changed.
We heard a scream.
Then we heard screams.
Bloody, terrorized, fearful shouts of agony and despair.
Followed by a POP.
I don’t remember much after that.
I remember turning my torso around.
I remember seeing a group of people– running, fleeing, eyes wide, mouths open, screaming, shouting, coming towards our outside table.
I remember seeing a man behind them, with something in his hands.
“Gun. Bomb.” That’s where my mind went.
Suddenly, I had jumped out of my chair, and dove into the restaurant, ducking for coverage, for safety.
I hit the floor. I had fallen flat on my face. My knee seared in pain. I don’t know how I got here.
I shot up, bee-lined for the toilet, with another man behind me, and slammed it shut, and locked the door.
The two of us sat in the darkness for some seconds, on edge and alert. It felt like hours.
The man and I looked at one another. I realized he wasn’t my friend.
We opened the door a crack, and then a smidge, and then just enough to see outside. My friend then made his way inside the loo, while the random man exits to find his partner.
We looked at each other in shock, in disbelief. What the actual fuck had just happened?
But we were safe. We were both safe. That’s when I began to let myself feel the pain in my knees. I was shaking; I was in shock.
We crept out of the loo. The man had had a knife. He was waving that knife down the street, at and towards people, hence the panic and chaos.
Whilst I had dove into the restaurant, my friend and jumped over a hedge and sailed up the street around the corner, along with my bathroom friend’s partner. He was kicked by the man with the knife in the process.
The man with the knife was probably on the loose on the streets of San Antonio.
No one was hurt.
There was no incident, except panic, and real fear.
The cops were called multiple times by multiple people, but they never arrived.
The waiter gave us each a shot on the house to calm our nerves.
I suddenly had no desire to head out into the streets of San Antonio.
I think of Paris; London; Nice; Parkland, FL; Las Vegas, Nevada.
Did I overreact?
Not for a second.
It could have been me. It could have been any of us.
One week later, back home in Lille, I still have a bruise. My knee still feels tender.
Is this our new normal?
Fight-or-Flight Response– I’ve never been more grateful.