Drill

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My mom always said that I had a vivid imagination. I used to run around the house as though I was in another world- fighting dragons or watching clouds on the ceiling. This was to my benefit while sitting in 4th period US History as those dragons found their way to my paper. My mind wandered as Mr. Dunkin droned on about stories that are a million miles away. As I shaded the details on my flame-throwing doodle, a new voice shook me from my trance.
“Good morning students!” The principal’s voice echoed from the loudspeaker, and my whole class looked up from their desks in unison, “Today we are going to practice our lock down drill.” I turned my attention back to my doodle as his low voice continued to grumble in my ear.
“I thank you for your respect and silence during this time as we begin to move into our lock down positions, and we’ll be back shortly.” His voice was drowned out by the shifting desks and feet moving towards the back corner of the classroom. I sat down with my back pressed against the cold, blank wall as my peers clustered in around me. The uncomfortability of the situation rested upon me before everyone was settled and already I started to think, When is this going to end?
Two girls that I have only talked to a couple of times sat to my right.  As others died down, their voices remained as a consistent whispering with the occasional giggle; Mr. Dunkin seemed to notice but couldn’t bring himself to care, as he was brooding over having to take 10 minutes away from his lecture. After a minute, the whispering was joined by tapping from an unknown source, a sniffle every few seconds, and a cough every couple minutes. A sort of symphony was beginning to form and even the slightest sounds seemed to echo louder and louder until everything screamed into my ear. I closed my eyes, willing it to go away, wishing for true silence as though I was about to go to sleep.
I managed to catch this thought before it ran away. I brought it back to me in the form of breath. In-out, in-out, in… I opened my eyes again. I won’t let myself be carried away by something as simple as sound.
Sitting in a corner with no intention but to wait lends itself only to boredom. I closed my eyes again, this time in an attempt to make time move faster. My mind searched for anything at all as a distraction, and I slowly stopped hearing whispers from the corner of the room. I couldn’t hear anything at all. Alarmed and intrigued by the sudden silence, my eyes darted open and a distorted image covered my eyes. My classmates surrounding me were statues, paralyzed by the fear that quickly engulfed me too. All noise was vacuumed out of the room as everyone refused to move and draw the smallest amount of attention to our group. Every breath was taken in half capacity to add to the ever thickening silence filling the room and to match the thumping of our rapid and stressed heartbeats. The concrete atmosphere surrounded me, filled me, and became me. My every breath was rich with it, returning to me no matter how hard I tried to expel it. It traveled to every inch of my body and filled my chest to the point where it wanted to burst. It wanted me to scream. It wanted me to cry. It wanted me to run but I couldn’t. It turned me to metal and told me move- the highest torture of spirit.
This energy and weight stayed within the walls of my body where it festered and began to hurt. It emerged in the form of uncontrollable shaking and my hands and feet starting to tingle in the most subtle and uncomfortable way. Without my conscious consent my breathing had turned to quick, deep, shuddering breaths. Sitting with my legs tightly bound to my chest by my arms, I rested my forehead onto my knees, hoping to find solitude in a room that’s too full. Even then, I couldn’t escape the gravity of my world, the substance of a situation that was a true threat to my life. The density of the room found its way into my haven and there was no way to get it out. There was no way out.
The sharp silence was increasingly disturbed by a blunt and distant sound of footsteps. They approached with purpose and caution, knowing that they alone were walking the halls, and also knowing exactly what that meant. Each step cut deeper and deeper into a part of myself that I didn’t know existed. My heartbeat became erratic along with my nerves. Please just make it stop. Tears formed in my eyes and began to race down my cheeks. Please just make it stop. My fingers turned white from strain. Please just make it stop. The footsteps arrived outside the door and stopped. Please just make it stop. My vision, already blurry from silent tears, was narrowed by blackness closing in from the edges. Please just make it stop. The only sound that could be heard is a sharp click of a gun being cocked. Please…
“Alright everyone! Good job, you may now continue with your class as usual. Thank you, and have a nice day.” A familiar voice echoed from the loudspeaker once more and cut the silence that disappeared like smoke in the wind. My classmates moved toward their desks with ease, and chatter filled my ears. I stretched my legs and stood up, noticing my breathing and heartbeat rapidly returning to normal along with everything else. I had said I wouldn’t let my imagination control me but I now let the memory of the artificial terror drift away with time. With a deep breath and a swipe to dry my eyes, a world that turned upside down seemed to right itself.






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