Hadiya's friends

Danetria Hutson, from left, Klyn Jones, and Kyra Caldwell were with Hadiya Pendleton when she was fatally shot. (Chris Sweda/ Chicago Tribune)

Just before they hear the first shot, the girl named Klyn glances toward the alley and sees a man hop over a metal fence. He holds a gun.

"Guys," she says to the group of friends huddled under the metal awning, waiting out the winter rain, "we've got to go."

The shots detonate like firecrackers — boom boom boom boom boom — and the friends, a dozen of them altogether, run.

The girl named Danetria does not run well. She is out of breath, struggling to keep up, when, ahead of her, she sees one of her friends fall, and she thinks about how slowly her friend collapsed, and how gracefully, and how strange this all is, like a dream.

The girl named Kyra is still running. From behind her she hears someone shout, "Hadiya's been shot!"

Kyra is a good runner. She reaches a nearby Subway sandwich shop, and, because her cellphone is dead, she borrows a stranger's, thinking she'll call 911. When she hears the sirens, she figures someone already has, and so she calls her mom.

"Stay put," her mother orders.

For a long time afterward, Kyra will wonder if she should have gone back to the park, if she should have left at all. She thinks about how she might have done something to help, the way Klyn held Hadiya's hand and Danetria cradled Hadiya's head in her lap as they waited for the police and the ambulance.

In the months that follow, as the story of Hadiya Pendleton flares into international news, all three girls, Kyra, Danetria and Klyn, will learn to carry the weight of what they did and didn't do, what they could and couldn't do, and what they witnessed, on that Tuesday.

"That bullet did a lot more than just kill my baby," Hadiya's mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, said in a Tribune interview last week. "I'm amazed at how many people are impacted by someone's foolishness."