Fiction Sad Drama

It'd been twenty-four years since she'd last seen it, but the place looked exactly the same. The massive building was constructed of an array of red and brown brick, contrasted by white, that lined the gleaming rectangular windows. The edges of the structure weren't sharp; instead, they were etched in like little staircases. It reminded her of the pin art she used to play with as a child. Her brother would make a contorted face and stick it into the pins, then chase her around with the horrifying 3D image.

The entrance, a pointed archway, was once inviting. The bulbous white light fixtures bolted to either side of it were now nothing but beacons of dismay. Emma's hands were beginning to clam up as she took a deep breath to settle her palpitating heart. 

She wiped her hands on her jacket before sliding them into her pockets. She observed the forest green shrubbery that lined the walkway. It was still neatly trimmed. The small areas of grass were as well, edged perfectly where they met the sidewalk. Nudging it with the toe of her boot, she gazed up at the building. Tears welled in her eyes as she turned her back and headed back toward her hotel a few blocks down the road. 

Cars whirred past her faster than they should have, blowing her tight curls into her eyes. The frigid breeze was making her nose run and her eyes water. It was the very thing she was trying to hold back.

"Oh my goodness, Emma? Is that you?" a high pitched voice questioned from behind.  

Turning around, Emma was facing a heavy-set woman who wore thick-rimmed glasses and sported a chic, platinum pixie cut. She was wearing a short, tan leather jacket over a fitted white knit top, dark blue skinny jeans, and brown knee-high boots. Upon her forearm was a fair-sized Louis Vuitton purse. The woman looked familiar, but she couldn't put a name to the face. The woman could tell.

"Oh, I'm sorry, doll. It's me, Katie! Remember we went to Hites Elementary together. I wouldn't mistake those curls anywhere! I was just ordering a latte, come join me!" 

"Oh, sure! That'd be great," she beamed excitedly. She hadn't seen Katie since they were children, but she had followed her success online. It was like being in the presence of a celebrity. 

Emma followed her long lost friend into the quaint coffee shop. The aroma of fresh coffee beans was heavenly. She went to the counter and ordered a black coffee, then joined Katie at a bistro table at the storefront. 

"So, Emma, what brings you back to town? When you got rid of Facebook years ago, I always wondered what the heck happened to you!"

That was the very reason Emma had removed herself from social media- privacy. Moreover, she was tired of living a mock-up life for others to see and judge. While Emma displayed herself as a gleaming artist- joyful and free, she was, in fact, the opposite. She was quite solemn. And, this town especially brought it out in her. 

"Just came to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. What about you? You moved to New York to do your designer work, didn't you?" Emma inquired.

"I sure did, girl! It's absolutely amazing. I'm here visiting my family too. It's so nostalgic coming back here- a nice break from the madness in the city. So where are you living now?" Katie asked, gently blowing on her latte. 

"I moved to the Poconos a few years ago. Not nearly as exciting as New York, I'm sure," Emma responded. 

She admired Katie's outgoing nature just as much as she had when they were children. Their contrasting personalities had really brought them together. And unlike some, Katie never gloated about her wealth or success. She came from money, which helped fund her fashion endeavor to New York, but she had indeed put in the work. Emma could think of no one more deserving. 

"It's really tough, sometimes, girl. I feel like I never get a minute of peace. I have all of these deadlines, interviews, and then marketing. It never ends. I was so looking forward to this trip home! My phone is silenced and everything!" she said, holding up her glittery iPhone. 

"Wow, I don't know how you do it. You're amazing!" Emma replied in admiration.  

They chatted like they had never been separated. Emma checked her phone, and two hours had gone by. 

"Oh my, it's getting late! I had better get going. Thank you so much for the visit, Katie. You really brightened my day," Emma stated, standing from her stool and shaking the stiffness from her legs. 

"You really brightened my day too, doll," Katie answered, placing a hand on Emma's arm. "Let me drive you to your parents. That's quite a walk, and it's getting dark. Not to mention freezing!"

Emma's parents had moved to Florida and sold the house years prior. She hadn't come to visit family and felt a little guilty for offering a white lie. However, the truth likely would've ended their visit before it even began. So the fib continued. 

"Oh, my parent's converted my bedroom into a home office, so I am staying at the Pinewood Suites. It'll just be a five-minute walk. No trouble at all," Emma replied convincingly. 

"Okay, well, let's exchange numbers! We need to stay in touch!" Katie said, swiping up on her phone. Her eyes widened, and her hands began tremoring frantically. "Oh my gosh, my mom has called a hundred times! My dad is having chest pain, and they just rushed him to the hospital! I have to go!" 

Katie was hyperventilating as she bolted out of the coffee shop before Emma could speak. 

Emma stood in silence with a sinking feeling for her dear friend. She sent up a silent prayer before heading out toward the hotel. 

After a brisk walk, which took longer than expected, she arrived at the hotel and entered. Swiping into her room, she set down her purse and slipped out of her coat. She changed into her pajamas and kicked back on the king-sized bed after grabbing a bottle of wine from her suitcase. She reflected on her time with Katie. 

"Not once did she mention it," she thought.

Right after it happened, Katie's parents had pulled her from that school and enrolled her in a boarding school an hour away. She probably had a top of the line therapist while she was there. Emma had not sensed even a hint of uneasiness in Katie. 

Emma polished off a glass of wine and settled down under the puffy down comforter. The next day was going to be a monumental one. It was what Emma had been waiting for, the whole reason she had made the four-hour trip to her quaint hometown. The town she promised herself she would never return to. 

Emma smelled smoke. Mrs. Donaldson frantically instructed all of the students to push their desks to the back wall. 

"Get down behind and cover your heads, children," she whispered shakily. 

She cautiously pushed her large desk in front of the closed classroom door, making as little noise as possible. She crouched down behind her desk, and Emma could hear her whisper a prayer. 

"Katie, I'm scared," Emma whispered, leaning her body into her best friend. She could feel Katie tremoring. 

"We're going to be okay, Emma. The police will…"

"Shh, shh," Mrs. Donaldson hushed nervously from across the room. Clicking boots were echoing in the hall just outside the door. She started praying again. 

The door handle rattled. The children gasped, many shutting their eyes tight. The door opened, slamming against Mrs. Donaldson's massive oak desk, pushing it forward slightly. A man's voice groaned deeply, and the door slammed again with more force. 

Mrs. Donaldson stood and whispered, "Children, keep your heads down. Do not look up." 

The students did as instructed, burrowing their heads further into their knees. 

A forceful thud pierced the air as Mrs. Donaldson slammed her desk against the door. The sound that followed was explosive, rattling the room. The class gasped in unison.

"Don't look up, children," Mrs. Donaldson croaked.

Emma couldn't help it; she raised her head slowly. Mrs. Donaldson was lying flat on her back, gasping, a pool of crimson growing around her torso. She stared in awe, unable to look away. 

Just then, another flash and bang. 

"We got him! Go, go, go!" 

A scuffle of shoes was moving about in the hall, and Emma could tell people were running. 

"He's dead. We got the shooter!"

Things quieted down in the hall. Emma looked around, and all of the other students were still holding their heads. There was another bang at the door. The students hunkered down.

"Mrs. Donaldson, we're all clear!"


"Mrs. Donaldson?"

Emma woke up, drenched and gasping. It was one of the many vivid nightmares she had been having for twenty-four years. But today, she was going to put it to rest. 

The sun was beginning to rise. Emma fixed herself a cup of coffee from the single-serve machine in her room and felt herself calming down. She thought of Katie.

She pulled out her phone and searched for her on Google. She was directed to Katie's website that displayed her products, clothing, and causes. Everything was beautiful, as expected. She opened the menu and saw a "Donate" tab. Emma didn't have much, but she really wanted to support her. 

Emma discovered the donations weren't for Katie. There were links to several organizations that all promoted gun control. She did not offer any details about her experience; it was just the links. 

She pulled out her wallet and donated to every organization, thinking of Katie. Emma pulled herself together and checked her watch. It was almost time. 

It was a brisk morning, but Emma didn't mind. She had been waiting for this day since the announcement months earlier. It was finally happening.

She found herself across the street from the brick building and could hear the even, blaring tone of work trucks reversing. Standing with her arms crossed, she observed the demolition excavator positioning itself before the structure.  

For twenty-four years, Hites Elementary had been the origin of torment, night terrors, and flashbacks for Emma. It was a monumental day. 

A man called out to clear the area. They were about to begin.

Emma knew it wasn't going to change the past. She was going to have those memories forever. Nonetheless, Hites Elementary was about to be blown to pieces- and that was all that mattered.

November 20, 2020 18:00

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Sunny 🌼
19:26 Nov 24, 2020

Once I started this story I couldn't stop reading! I really liked how the story was focused on gun violence, it was very interesting.


Lucy Newman
20:16 Nov 24, 2020

Thank you so much!


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