The bank robber is sitting alone in the hall, listening to the people she took hostage. They’re so different from her: they’ll be victims the moment they walk out of this apartment, while the robber will end up in prison for years. She pulls off her mask and thinks that hopefully, her daughters’ dad will teach the girls to lie and say their mom is dead, rather than in prison. The robber barely notices herself gripping the pistol harder and putting her finger on the trigger. She wonders if she’d shoot herself if the pistol was real. But before she can finish the thought, Zara gently lowers the pistol.
As the robber unmasks herself, the novel finally begins to use gendered pronouns and confirm that she’s female. The novel has been encouraging readers to go along with the police (who have used male pronouns in witness interviews to ask about the robber) in assuming the robber was male. With this, readers get another lesson in why making assumptions isn’t always the best way to learn new information. Then, as the robber lifts the gun (which readers and Zara know is real), this creates tension—might she actually shoot herself by accident?—but Zara, uncharacteristically, steps in to help.
Zara has tried not to think of anything since the hostage drama started. She’s been in constant pain for the last 10 years, so this what she usually does. But seeing the robber alone with the pistol reminds Zara of a counseling session where the psychologist said that people tend to try to cure chaos with chaos: they keep going in the hope that some unlikely solution will emerge when really, they’re just going to crash. So, Zara tells the robber the kindest thing she can think of: “Don’t do anything silly.” The robber smiles weakly. Zara goes onto the balcony and puts headphones on. Later, she tries pizza and hates it.
It’s so painful for Zara to exist because she believes she’s responsible for the man’s suicide a decade ago. Now, though, Zara gets a second chance to try and do the right thing. Her choice to step in and tell the robber not to do anything silly is, in a way, akin to Jack having saved Nadia from jumping off the bridge. Both Jack and Zara have now gotten a second chance to try to save someone. Perhaps this will spur Zara to try to allow herself to feel things so she can heal. This passage also reveals that for all Zara’s evasion tactics during her counseling sessions, she does take Nadia’s advice seriously.