Remembering December 14th

Trigger warning: mass violence, school shootings

it is december 14th. the teachers are all panicking

in whispers, my friends are all pulled out of school

three hours early. i am left alone in class, listening

to the phone in the classroom ringing, ringing

ringing. outside, frantic parents sit in the parking

lot, knuckles white with fingers tight on steering wheels.

it is still december 14th but it feels like years later when i step

off the bus and my mom tells me gently that 24 miles away,

26 lives were taken by a boy with a gun. she wants to protect

me from this, but how? is there safety in knowing? days later

it is no longer december 14th but i can’t remember how to

feel safe in my sixth-grade classroom with the shades rolled

all the way up. every window is an entrance or an emergency

exit. each day i imagine the choice between a gunshot wound

or a fall from two stories. i imagine the harsh crack

of bone splintering, i picture a stray bullet tearing through

skin like a sharpened pencil ripping through notebook

paper. i daydream about blood and how it looks

outside the body. i spend math class contemplating

my own bravery. i do not learn the quadratic formula

because i am too focused on where i would sit to create an

empty classroom illusion. i wonder about the meaning of

sacrifice. i wonder if my best friend will have a 16th

birthday party. i wonder if i will always wonder about this.

december 14th was eight years ago and Sandy Hook

is no longer a headline but it is still a massacre decorating

the walls of my memory. is the world a better place now?

i want to believe that it is. i want to believe that it can be.

I find creativity in poetry, but I also run a photography business!

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