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.