The kids don’t say a word during the drill, don’t even laugh, they just sit up against the one wall that’s supposed to hide them from the window, and I remember how years ago I’d have to tell them that this was serious, and ask them to respect that, and then shush them when they’d make jokes and play with their phones anyway, but now there’s not a sound; instead, I’m the one with the phone out, staring at the app the school purchased specifically for these scenarios, and I think about the spokesman who explained it to the faculty the day before classes began, a microphone running down his cheek like a motivational speaker, telling us how they’d developed this software to save lives though I still don’t understand how taking roll on a smartphone can stop someone with an assault rifle, but I suppose it’s a good idea, “a marketplace need,” and I suppose people who sell these sorts of things need to convince themselves that they’re not profiting from fear, or death, or these kids’ palpable fear of death, and for a second I want one of my students to mock the whole thing like they used to — maybe point out that turning the lights off won’t deter a deranged killer or that the shooter will more than likely be someone from the school, so wouldn’t he have the same training, wouldn’t he exploit all of the obvious loopholes? — but it doesn’t come, and as their teacher I should be relieved that they’re taking it seriously, that they’ve finally recognized that “it could happen here,” but I can’t help but wish they had the luxury of ignorance, that they could roll their eyes at the whole thing and try to stifle their laughter as they whisper to their friends about something far more important.
Kevin M. Kearney's writing has appeared in Hobart, JMWW, Eclectica and elsewhere. He teaches in Philadelphia. More of his writing can be found at kevinmkearney.com