all the other kids

monday morning
halloween parade at the elementary school

charlie and i made our way up the street to the side gate where the kids, teachers, administrators, and parents were assembled for the costume parade. 

it was open. 

halloween: a day that is 100% about fun, childhood, and making memories. and all i could think about as i entered the campus was that anyone could walk through the gate and shoot at us. 

i didn't rush or panic, but the thought entered my head and stayed there throughout the procession. i spotted eleanor first and calmly thought, "there are too many people between us for me to protect her if a shooter came in through the west gate. but at least i know where she is." i was able to catch her eye and wave so she'd know i was there. she was thrilled i'd made it as i promised. i couldn't see lucy; as it turned out, her class was just a few feet away from me to my right and invisible from where i stood among the many parent spectators. i watched her excitedly (and bashfully) circle the track with her class, scanning every adult in the crowd, looking for her mom. when she finally found my face, hers lit up. my mom is here. she came to see me in my dragon costume in the parade.  

for a few seconds, i forgot about the shooter. it was just me and Lu there, elated we found each other. every sparkle of hope within both of us – that the other would be there, that we'd find each other – washed over me. 

then she returned to her class spot and i made a mental note that she was nearby. in my head i let the scene unfold: the sound of a gun, pandemonium, my immediate instinct to get as close to the girls as possible, throwing my body over theirs, and ordering them to play dead. charlie was already in my arms so i wouldn't have to worry about him getting lost in the chaos. beyond stationing myself as close to them as i could, i had no real plan. it occurs to me that the school didn't either. and why should we? is it our job to metabolize our trauma and develop a system of defense from an enemy that we are desperately trying not to go to war with?

strangely, as charlie and i left the school, i felt completely calm, which makes little sense. but then what about the american culture of school shootings does? i guess there's no more appropriate time for me to have had this silent nightmare than the holiday we've collectively dedicated to celebrating the frightening, the fearsome, the gory.