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Monday, November 25, 2019


by Rachel Mallalieu

School Shooting in California
briefly topped my computer screen last Thursday.
The numbers didn’t add up—
     only two children died.
The headline quickly fell below more pressing news.

I didn’t argue with my dad.
The carnage wasn’t grand enough
to warrant our familiar discussion.
I usually recount the horrors I’ve seen in the ER.
He quips that more gun laws
won’t change outcomes.
I remind him that I’m out of school;
he’ll never know what it feels like
to pray every day
     that your child comes home.
I rarely finish this last sentence
because my throat seizes and I
stop before I cry.

On Thursday, my children had
     active shooter training.
The  school sent the email weeks ago.
Don’t worry, there will be no pretend
active shooter, no “gun,”
no simulated injury scenes.

My second grader cried
before bed. He says he can’t go to
college because someone might shoot
him there. He intends to live
with me forever.
The fourth grader was unbothered. He
learned to stay quiet, put paper
over the windows and barricade the door.
He is certain rules will save him.
The sixth grader was quiet.
He only wondered which classmate might
bring a gun to school.
The ninth grader, an old hand, did not
mention the training.
He scanned the news on his phone.
Hey Mom, did you see there was another
school shooting?
     Only two students died.

Editor’s note: Rachel’s poem recalls the Saugus High School shooting that happened on November 14. As we go to press, there is news from Union City about a shooting on Saturday, November 23: Two boys, 11 and 14, killed in shooting in elementary school parking lot in California.

Rachel Mallalieu is an Emergency Physician and mother of five. She writes poetry in her spare time. Her work has been featured in TheNewVerse.News, Blood and Thunder and is upcoming in Haunted Waters Press.