This is the drill.

You turn off the lights. You shut and lock the doors. If there are windows, you herd your students to a corner where they can’t be seen from the windows. You tell them it’s important they stay still. You tell them it’s important they stay silent. You use the tone of voice you reserve for only the most serious things. The tone of voice you once used with your own children when you told them never to shoot up. You only have one life, you once said, don’t throw it away.

This is the drill.

You sit and think what you would do if someone started to come through that door. You know you’d have little time. The gun will be designed to kill quickly and indiscriminately. The man, for it will most likely be a man, won’t hesitate at the sight of you. He already will have had practice hurting his girlfriend, his wife, his parents, his children. Would it be smarter to stand up and step forward? Or would it be smarter to kneel right in front of your students? If there’s a window or a second door, should you shout for the students to try and escape? Or should you whisper that they should lie still and play dead? You have to decide now, in preparation.

This is the drill.

You know you would have to do whatever it takes to make your students believe that they will survive. Because they’re more likely to if they believe they will. You must do this even if you are shaking, even if you are terrified. You must do this even if you don’t believe it yourself. You are the adult in the room. You are the only adult in the room.

This is the drill.
 
 

Laura Williams McCaffrey

LAURA WILLIAMS MCCAFFREY teaches at Pacem School in Vermont and at Solstice — the low-residency MFA program at Pine Manor College. The Fiction Editor at YAReview.net, she also is the author of novels and short stories for young readers. www.laurawilliamsmccaffrey.com

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