December Fourteenth

Please, no hate! I wrote this two years ago… The picture was taken by my friend, Jenien.

In memory of all those children and teachers who died on December 14, 2012 in the Sandy Hook shooting, when a man came into their school and started to shoot. Twenty innocent children and five teachers had their lives taken.

Today, December fourteenth, is the second anniversary of the shooting. I wrote this story a few days after it.

“Morning…”Shelia Kerr whispered as she walked into her daughter’s room. She didn’t turn on the light; instead she took three steps across to the bed. There, Shelia slowly sat down on the bed, careful not to sit on her daughter. “Wakey, wakey.” She found her daughters face and started to slowly, carefully pull the hair away, revealing a peaceful sleeping figure. Nadia was her only child, and she felt so blessed to have her. Nadia was the one who always made her smile when she was down, and Nadia was the one who kept her company as her husband was a pilot and was often flying. “C’mon,” Shelia urged. “It’s school today.” A smile played on her lips as she mentioned it. She knew Nadia’s favorite thing was school.

Instantly Nadia’s eyes opened, revealing her hazel eyes which were sparkling with excitement. She was a first-grade student at the local elementary school, Top Hill Elementary. It had grades kindergarten to seven, it was a small school.

“You’ll get to see Alicia,” Shelia urged. Alicia was one of Nadia’s friends, and Alicia was the one who practically lived at the Kerr’s house, and the girls got along swimmingly, as Shelia would say.

“Okay!” Six-year-old Nadia jumped out of bed at the sound of her best friends name and hastened to turn on the light before going to her cupboard to choose her outfit. She opened the wooden drawers with all her strength and fell backwards as it opened. Nadia hastily chose out her favorite summer dress, which was white with pink and purple roses.

“You can’t wear that dress today,” Shelia laughed as she got up and walked over towards her daughter, careful not to step on the Barbie dolls scattering the floor.

“But I like it!” Nadia urged. “Please!” She rapidly blinked her eyes, and made the cutest face she could muster. “It’s Friday…”

Shelia thought for a moment. What would the teachers say? Letting her daughter go to school in a summer dress when the month was December? She might get sent home and get asked to put something else on… “Okay, fine,” Shelia replied as she took a deep breath and let it out. “So long as you wear a warm jacket. It’s cold outside.”

“Okay, Mommy.” Nadia triumphantly smiled and started to take off her pyjama shirt. Shelia left and headed down the narrow hallway to the kitchen. It was small and outdated, but it wasn’t something Shelia was fussy about. All that really mattered was that it cooked food – which it did. She reached on her tiptoes to the high shelf above the white fridge and took out two chipped cereal bowls. She placed them on the breakfast bar, took out two spoons and the jug of milk. Next she bent down underneath the breakfast bar where there was a shelf filled with spreads for bread and half-empty cereal boxes. Without hesitation Shelia took out the corn flakes and set the near empty box on the counter and waited. If Nadia didn’t hurry they would be late for school…

“Nadia! Come on, Honey!” Shelia leaned against the scratched countertop and waited, watching the white clock slowly tick the seconds by.

“Coming, Mommy!” Exactly two minutes later Nadia came running down the hall, her dress flowing right behind. She pulled herself up onto the bar stool and poured her cereal. About half of it spilt on the counter, but Shelia didn’t care.

“Want me to pour the milk?” Shelia offered as she picked up the jug.

“Mhmm,” Nadia replied, barely looking up as she set the box down. The milk splashed down into the bowl, raising the corn flakes. Nadia mindlessly took her spoon and started to eat, while looking at the box.

Shelia poured her own cereal and then made herself some coffee. “So tell me, how was your sleep?” She asked as she picked up the box and put it on the laminate floor.

“Huh?” Nadia looked up from her bowl and into the eyes of her mother. “Oh, it was fine.” She then went on to hum a tune.

“What song is that, honey?” Shelia quizzed as she finished her cereal, got up and went to wash the bowl.

“A Christmas one,” Nadia smiled,down from her stool and took her bowl to the sink. There, her eyes wandered off to above the sink where an advent calendar was sitting. In it was a chocolate for each day of December. “Can I have a chocolate?” Nadia asked.

“Of course, but then you have to run along and brush your teeth.” Shelia reached for the shelf where the dollar store item was. It had a picture of Santa Clause and his twelve reindeer, of which Shelia never had the time to learn their names. She popped open number fourteen, since it was the fourteenth of December. She handed it over to Nadia with a smile.

“Thanks, Mommy.” Nadia threw it in her mouth and smiled before running off to the bathroom.

~

Shelia let go of Nadia’s hand as they reached the school playground. Many other kids were saying their good byes to their parents before happily running off to their friends. Shelia bent down on one knee to Nadia’s eye line, and did up the last button of her winter coat which had been neglected.

“Have a good day at school today, okay?”

“Okay, Mommy,” Nadia promised and smiled. “I love you.”

“Love you too.” They kissed each other’s cheeks before Shelia swung Nadia’s pink Barbie backpack from her own shoulders and handed it over.  “Remember, we’ll bake some cookies after school!” Shelia promised.

“Gingerbread,” Nadia responded with the most serious face.

“Yes, gingerbread men,” Shelia laughed and smiled. “Okay, I’ll pick you up at three!” She playfully pushed Nadia towards the school building, and within seconds she had been swallowed up by the students, eager to start a new day.

~

“Okay! Here’s the soccer ball!” Mrs. Kyla Kings threw the ball onto the gravel field and watched on, tugging her coat closer to her body. She had taken her grade one class outside so they could release some on their energy. It was something she always did, for ten minutes each day at exactly nine fifteen Mrs. Kings would take her class out.

She smiled as all the kids eagerly chased after the muddy ball. It needed to be replaced badly, but she was insistent to use the ball, no matter how badly it was falling apart.

Her attention was brought back to her class when Nadia brought the youngest girl in the class to her. The girl, Jenny, had a tear-stained, white face. Her lips were still trembling. She was biting her lip, in some sort of pain. Looking down at the girl’s knee, Mrs. Kings saw the problem. There was a hole in her pants, and blood was coming out. It wasn’t bleeding badly, but it was bad enough for the little girl.

“Jenny girl! What happened?” Mrs. Kings bent down on her knees, her skirt touching the cold, cement sidewalk.

“I… I tripped over the ball,” Jenny sobbed as fresh tears came to her eyes.

“Oh no!” Mrs. Kings thought out loud. She couldn’t leave her class out here by themselves as it might take a while to fix up Jenny. She looked at Nadia. Nadia was a very responsible and smart kid, and could take care of Jenny. “Nadia, dear, why don’t you take Jenny to the bathroom and clean her up? Here… I might have a Band-Aid here…” She searched in her black coats deep pockets as she reached to her full height and took out an old Band-Aid. It was a bit wrinkled, but looked just the right size. She put the item in Nadia’s hand. “You can do it, right?” She looked right into Nadia’s hazel eyes.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Nadia replied with a smile, took her friend’s hand and helped her as she limped down the pavement and into the school building. They went into the first washroom at the front of the school. It was large, with ten stalls and four sinks. There was a large bench at the front where Nadia lifted the younger girl up with a lot of effort and took a paper towel before wetting it.

“Thanks, Nadia,” Jenny said and smiled in appreciation. She wiped away the tears on her sleeve.

“No problem… can you roll up your jeans?” Nadia asked, pretending she was a doctor and Jenny was her patient.

Jenny slowly nodded, and bent down to slowly roll them up. While Nadia waited she took more paper towel, but left it dry.

“That’s better.” Once the jeans were rolled up, Nadia took the wet towel and dabbed the bleeding wound. It looked disgusting, but she sucked in her breath and carried on. Soon, she had all the blood off from around the wound, and was dabbing the actual wound. The door opened.

“Nadia, Jenny,” the girl smiled as the door slammed behind her. It was Crystal, a seventh grader, who was Jenny’s reading buddy. The school had a reading program where the grade sevens helped the grade ones read, it was a great way to show the kids that the older people weren’t scary.

“Hi Crystal,” Jenny responded.

“Oh no! What happened?!” Crystal came up to where Jenny was sitting. She was a tall girl, so she bent down and her auburn hair covered her face. “Did you fall?”

“Mhmm.”

“Do you need help, Nadia?” Crystal offered. She waited until Nadia nodded her head yes. Nadia didn’t want help, but she knew she couldn’t do it all by herself. She learnt that sometimes the big people knew better. “Okay, let me first use the toilet and I’ll be back.” Crystal went into one of the stalls, and came back a few minutes later. She washed her hands, making the washroom smell fresh and clean.

“Thanks, Crystal,” Nadia thanked, looking at Crystal as she took over and slowly cleaned the wound again, and then watched as she placed the Band-Aid over top of the wound.

“No problem,” Crystal smiled as she threw away the garbage and helped Jenny pull on her jeans again.

Suddenly a commotion was heard, with lots of yelling and screaming, followed by a banging sound, which sounded like a heavy item being pushed against a wall. Crystal’s face went white with fear. The PA system came on, and heavy breathing was heard.

“What was that?” Jenny whispered as she took out her headband and nervously put it back in her hair.

“I don’t know… stay here.” Crystal cautiously walked over to the door and soundlessly opened it, and then closed it. The image she saw would haunt her for years to come. She had seen a big, burly man with a black mask on walk down the hallway and storm into a classroom. He had a big gun, and was anxiously walking. She looked past the man, and quickly into the front office. It was a horrible mess, with a receptionist lying motionless on the floor, a pool of blood surrounding her. Soon more shots, of what she believed were to be the gun, were heard. Deathly screams followed.

“What was it?” Nadia asked as she helped Jenny down from the bench. Quietly Crystal closed the door and locked it before hurried the girls into the last toilet stall and locked it.

“There’s a bad man outside,” Crystal whispered. “But we have to be quiet.” She put Jenny in between the toilet and the wall, and then Nadia next to her. Crystal squished in between, trying not to tremble.

“Oh… is he going to hurt us?” Jenny asked as she held Crystal’s hand. Blood curling screams sounded throughout the school, and seemed to echo in the washroom. More shots were heard, and with each one Crystal tensed a bit more. They were going to die… Crystal just knew it. She closed her eyes, as she remembered the morning.

She had gotten up late and then yelled at her parents for not waking her up, after that she ran to school. A tear slid down her cheek.

“Is he?” Nadia asked, with anxiety in her voice. Nadia thought back to her morning. She knew that no matter what Crystal’s response would be, they would die. The morning had gone perfectly, and she had been promised to bake gingerbread cookies. She loved to bake. No, she couldn’t die, because she had to bake cookies.

Crystal opened her eyes and looked at both girls. “I… I don’t know.” Her voice quivered. She was an only child… more screams and shots were heard. She held each girl tighter, and then took Nadia onto her lap. “But I’ll protect both of you, no matter what. I promise.” Tears slid down her cheek again. Shouting, screams and cries lingered in her ears. She didn’t hear the sirens.

“And I’ll protect you,” Nadia vowed in a whisper and hugged Crystal back. The screams of pain made her want to cry, but she knew she couldn’t. Crystal had said to be quiet, and she was determined to do that. She didn’t know what was going on, all she knew that there was a bad man who was hurting people, and might hurt them.

“Me too,” Jenny piped in between tears. Jenny wished she had her doll with her. She trembled, and wanted to cry, but Crystal had told them to be quiet. She didn’t want to make a sound in case the bad man heard.

“Thanks.” Crystal hugged them a bit tighter, expecting at any moment for the man to come bursting through the door and shoot. Though, the shots were quiet now, there was just screaming and crying.  She wondered what had happened. Deep down she knew that it wasn’t over, and that they would die. She whispered reassuring words both for the girls, and for her. If they were to die, she didn’t want screams to be the last thing they ever heard. They were young, they still had to live.

It was hard to tell, but it was about ten minutes later that someone tried to open the door. Whoever it was, was strong, but of course, couldn’t open it. Jenny screamed.

“Shhh!” Crystal covered Jenny’s mouth with her hand.

“It’s okay… you’re safe now,” a reassuring voice from the other side of the heavy door said. Crystal’s heart started to beat faster, and she was sure Nadia could feel it. Could she trust the faceless voice? “We’re the police, open up. We won’t hurt you… we promise.”

Crystal licked her lips in anticipation. “You could be anyone… you could just be saying that,” she called back and whispered the reassuring words to the girls. She held them tighter. She didn’t have any plans of leaving the little toilet stall anytime soon.

“We are the police,” the voice called once again. It sounded like a girl, a very stressed, but caring mother.

“I… I don’t believe you,” Crystal stuttered. Tears freely fell down her face. She held the girls even tighter. She wasn’t sure if she was to believe the friendly voice or not.

“But what if they are here to help?” Jenny asked. “I don’t want to be locked in here forever.” Jenny trembled; Crystal’s grip was getting harder on her hand.

“I…” Crystal shook her head. “If you’re the police, unlock the door with the keys,” she challenged. She braced herself as she heard a sigh and then a key go into a lock. The door soon opened, and she heard a set of footsteps cautiously enter. They echoed throughout the washroom. They sounded dangerous, mysterious and determined.

“I’m here to help,” the voice said again.

Crystal held the girls tighter, and closed her eyes, sure that at any moment gun shots would ring out and kill all of them.

“My name is Ginger.” The voice said again as toilet stalls were banged open, starting from the first in the row, slowly making its way towards the last stall.

“And mine’s Crystal,” Crystal trembled. “I’m in seventh grade… and… and I’ll protect these kids.” At least she would die a hero, she thought.

Ginger tried to push open the last door, but it didn’t open. Jenny and Nadia screamed.

“Crystal honey, please open the door,” Ginger pleaded.

Sighing, Crystal cautiously opened the door, waiting to be killed, but she wasn’t, and there was a police officer standing in her uniform. She didn’t think, but tightly hugged Ginger. “I… I thought we were going to die.” She felt Jenny and Nadia hug Ginger too. “Thank you so much for coming!”

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4 thoughts on “December Fourteenth

  1. I love it. Nice contrasts between Nadia remembering her morning and Crystal remembering her morning. Happy ending, too. 🙂

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