This year I have been shot forty-five times. The gunshots have reached Santa Clarita. I am two hours away tucked in the safest city, Irvine, for Part I violent crime, FBI data shows. Part 1 includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, auto theft, and arson. I survey the news, they have not mentioned shooting. He is unsafe. I bite into the news and choke. 45 school shootings in 46 weeks this year.
My husband enters the living room with our little one screaming for hot milk with choco-chip cookies. To my ears, his voice is cherries and figs, doughnuts and candy, honey, and maple. Changing the screen to a banana walnut bread recipe, I log off making a mental note of erasing the browsing history before he logged in.
The Thanksgiving break went before it came. Lately, I have come to seesaw between two emotions- panic and despair. Too many gunshots are fatal to a mother's well being. My well being. I have felt the bullets, piercing through the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis, ripping through the pericardium and epicardium and puncturing my heart. Blood leaks through multiple shots but I continue breathing. Guns are puzzling; I haven't been able to differentiate between AR-15 style assault rifles and military-grade weapons. Many shootings across the US use AR-15 or a 9 mm Semi-automatic rifle which means one shot per trigger pull. It does not shoot on its own, someone has to pull the trigger. If someone decides not to, we are safe, children are safe in school, my son is safe. What about ghost guns though? I chew into my nails right down to the quick.
He is a five-year-old and started kindergarten this year. For the first time, outside the warmth of my palm and the shelter of my bosom, he walks and runs, jumps and slides, kicks, and stumbles.
Later that night, I carry him in my arms listening to his soft breath. In his quiet consciousness, I gaze at him, his arms in a cheerleader position.
Then I hear a gunshot. The regular rhythm of lub-dub changes into dhub-dhub-dhub. The gunshots are part of my life, I hear them every day, everywhere- at the crosswalk, soccer field, guitar classes, Walmart, Luv2play, Barnes and Nobles, at school, during drop up, recess and pick up...everywhere. I have imagined the worst, a fragile body, limp, soaked in blood, hand in cheerleader position.
Dhub-Dhub-Dhub, racing back to the living room, I log in ...again. The browsing history, for today, shows fifty-six searches in the past 24 hours. That's okay. I am a mom. I can search for as many as I want. Getting on
My secret folder, I type ----------
While I am figuring out a haven for him, I plead, do not shoot him. Who is your next target? Which grade? Which school? Which city? Where do I hide my son where neither you nor your intentions can reach him? My husband and I have kept him safe in all possible and nearly impossible ways- from a self-invited alligator lizard in our patio, the roaches who frequent the house during sultry summers, flu virus that travels in a merry go round, the queen ant and the worker ants in the yard under their anthill, the rumble of the thunderstorm and the muddy puddles with wriggling earthworms. I have kept him protected, safe, and secure, warm, and cosy. Deep within, I accept, I cannot save him from a gun, and a mind which is determined to shoot. Fear swirls in my stomach and I sense nausea rise as my mind replays the Santa Clarita news, every word a hammer inside my chest. Another sleeping pill for the night and after a few minutes my eyes drift into quiet sorrow. The terror continues within - Dhub-Dhub-Dhub.
Author's two cents
This is not a story, the way you know stories. It is more of a slice of life - a mother's life in the face of terrifying realities. I do not necessarily know the exact genre in which it falls, however, I know for sure that it has been written from the depths of a mother's soul and raw honesty. I hope you will appreciate it. Thank you for taking out time to read.