A story about a terrorism/shooting incident
The Shush of Blood Surfing Through Her Body
When she slides out from underneath the desk, she sees this: the boy lying on the ground, his t-shirt crumpled against his torso, his khakis torn at the knee. He’s younger, she thinks, maybe her brother’s age, and she wonders where her brother is in the school, if he’s been hiding like she has, like they’ve grown accustomed to doing at home.
She doesn’t remember this boy’s name, although the papers will publish it shortly, and someone will post a picture online of the one time he got wasted and passed out on his family’s front steps. She knows this boy’s mum is the emergency doctor at the hospital, an occupation more widely respected than the various positions her mother sporadically holds. The girl recalls the doctor’s gentle touch after another accident at home, the way she spoke absentmindedly about the flowers in her garden, the fair on the old farm grounds, the help that was available if the girl needed it.
The girl feels the thud of running students through the floor, the stampede of sneakers from gym class, boot heels too high for their owners, sandals slapping against tanned feet. There is only silence in this classroom and it fills her ringing ears, the shush of blood surfing through her body. She wonders what the boy heard when he got up this morning, what it sounded like when he walked to school, when he opened the main door.
Nobody should be alone, she thinks, pulling herself along the cold floor on her stomach, yet she is very much alone. There is this boy here, but he is very much gone.
His hand is warm when she holds it.
She wonders why he came to this classroom in the end because it’s only used for storage; storage and a safe place to hide when she feels overwhelmed.
Staring into his unblinking eyes, his irises the most vibrant green, she recalls him now. She remembers him running down the field in the park, the soccer ball dancing between his feet, his curly hair bouncing in the wind. There was this look on his face, this look of determination, and it’s not unlike the look she saw when he staggered into this classroom today.
Jennifer Todhunter’s stories have appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Necessary Fiction, CHEAP POP, and elsewhere. She was named to Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions 2018, and is the Editor-in-Chief of Pidgeonholes. Find her at www.foxbane.ca or @JenTod_.
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