Issue 81 Feb 2020
They say in horror films that the ditzy, beautiful girl always dies first. In Kimberly’s case, that did not happen. She survived. Survived in the sense that she did not die that night.
It had been a month, and that night still haunted her every thought, her mood, her speech. The only reason she was returning to campus was because her parents were driving her crazy. Their response to her trauma was to project their fear and panic onto her, just pile it on as if she were not already a trembling mound of jello.
The psychiatrists and support groups had not really helped. They made her seep in the trauma of that night, the terror settling into her bones, her teeth chattering with the all too recent memory.
She remembered the gunshots, the screams… the crying and begging. She remembered the chaos, flashes in the suddenly blackest of nights, the thumps as bodies fell to the ground. That pool party had been packed, until suddenly she had felt all alone, running for her life. She had tripped over an exposed root, her body pitching forward, her face crushing against the Earth. All sense of direction, all ordered thought, had vanished as she tried to focus on her own escape and not the screams and shots. Dear God, not the screams and shots.
A blanket smothered the sky, a faint light filtering through the nightlamps. Chivena’s feet followed the same path she had taken for years, skipping in Grade 1, sprinting in Grade 5, and now in Grade 9, she was simply walking. The light was unnecessary; Chivena knew her way, memorization was her strong suit after all.
The bus was pulling in at its usual time when she got to the stop. She took her usual spot at the front. The usual girl sat next to her. And in the usual silence, they rode to school.
Stepping off the bus into the musty air, Chivena joined the stampede of school children gravitating towards a single light in the sleeping dusk. Like moths toward a flame, they floated up the sidewalk falling into step with the rest. Slowly, the crowd dispersed into the maze of hallways, linoleum tiles reflecting the florescent lighting. Despite the masses of children, a stagnant silence floated through the air. There was simply nothing that could be said. Walking to Block 1, Chivena stopped to rub her aching back. Her pack had gotten so much heavier over the years, filled to the brim with her Notes. She sighed and went on her way. This was the best way. Nothing better than a pack had been mentioned, and therefore nothing such existed. Chivena smiled to herself in her brilliance, no wonder she was Top of Class.
The bell was just about to ring at its usual time when she got to Math. She took her usual spot at the front. The usual boy sat next to her. They brought out Notes in the usual silence.