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The Man with the Gun
When I was five, I entered a sunny school bus and my mother had ushered me in on that first day,
wiping away the typical tears that she knew would drop from my eyes.
She whispered to me, “Baby, do not cry, for the safest place for you
outside of my own arms is where you are going now.
Never fear when you are there.”
I believed her for ten years after that.
And then I wished she were true.
My mother took me out of school early, the day of my final exams.
Surprise and curiosity rose within me until I saw her.
I realized she had been crying.
I had never seen her cry once in my fifteen years.
My heart dropped at the thought.
I did not go back to school for only one week after that day.
I received call after call, but ignored them all.
I could not afford to not listen for my mother’s cries, which came often now.
I could not afford to cry myself for the fear of breaking her already crumbling heart.
My school had changed when I came back.
Policemen lined the front doors, guns in their pockets.
I left early once again and did not come back again until next year.
Four months, I spent in my house, and still had not cried a single tear.
Every time I came close, I heard her laughing on her own first day of school.
I hoped with all of my heart that I would never forget the sound of her voice.
Unlike me, she was happy to leave our mother for the safest place on Earth.
She was joyful and exhilarating even five years later, on the day of her first oral presentation.
The day I was taken out of school early.
The day my mother first cried.
The day policemen at schools became a necessity.
The day school was no longer safe for my baby sister.
The day her laugh was lost in the air forever, taken by a man with a gun.