This is Not a Drill

Submitted into Contest #45 in response to: Write a story about community.... view prompt



Wahhhhhhhhhh!! the sirens cry.

Wee-wooo! Wee-wooo! the alarms call.

Flip, flash! Flip, flash! the lights flare.

Footsteps thud through halls and down stairs, everyone seeking shelter below the Earth. Teachers hurry their students, mothers carry their babies, and coworkers prod coworkers. Each person’s eyes are wide, and everyone is breathing heavily.

This is not a drill.

This is not a drill.

This is not a drill.

The same thoughts turn over in everyone’s mind, over and over, never stopping. Several streams of thoughts run through everyone’s minds, none exactly the same, yet all very, very similar.

This has to be a drill.

This isn’t happening.

I have to get to the basement.

I have to get everyone I care about to the basement.

The sirens cry louder, the alarms get angrier. The lights flash blue and red, red and blue. Everyone is huddling in basements too small and cramped, at least in the moment, for when everything is well they appear quite roomy and even comfortable. But not in the panic of the moment.

Run down the stairs.

Huddle in the basement.

Say prayers.

Everyone is tense. The sirens keep wailing, and the alarms keep shrieking, but somehow everything is deathly quiet. The only sounds still registering were jostling and a mother’s hush.

No one speaks.

No one moves.

People hardly breath. Everyone can hear their own hearts beating, and wonder if everyone else can hear it too. The stillness sends shivers down spines, and the air is heavy and almost stale. The smell of sweat and too many human bodies pressing together permeates the room.




Everyone is too frightened to be truly afraid, too still to move, too sweaty to be numb. Everyone is hanging on by a nail clipping before mass panic commenced.

One. Sirens screech.

Two. Alarms yowl.

Three. A baby starts to bawl.

Except, before overreacting could begin, something big happens.

Over all the noises, something happens. Something important. Something powerful. Over the wind whistling, the sirens howling, the lights flashing, something happens. Something big.

Hope, love, value, trust.

Someone has sung.

The first notes hang in the air, hesitating, wondering if they have permission to go on. Does beauty have the right to exist during fear and pain and chaos? Will it be accepted? The notes stand frozen, waiting for approval from the crowd.

Then it happens again.

Patience, joy, dance, forgive.

Someone else, someone new, someone different, has sung.

Again the notes hang in the air, too afraid to continue. The first song gave it courage, but only the people surrounding can allow it to go on. The tension in the room builds up higher and higher, and then, suddenly, it bursts.

Like a tea kettle.

Like a geyser.

Like a bomb.

Everyone begins to sing. Louder and louder, until everyone is sure it can be heard across the nation, maybe even the world. Their big, beautiful, unperfect world.

It isn’t heard.

Not yet.

People make up the words, everyone singing to their own special tune. It shouldn’t have sounded good. Except, somehow it did. It sounded wonderful. It sounded important. But most of all, it resounded with hope.

And just maybe, that’s all people want.

Maybe, it’s all they need to keep moving forward.

Everyone is holding hands now, because they need support. The power of their song is almost too strong, since it has been a long time from the last time the people had felt so indestructible.

And they were.

Maybe things wouldn’t be the same.

Maybe things would be destroyed.

Maybe things would be completely changed.

But it was okay, because everyone had each other. It was okay, because they were alive. It was okay, because they were safe for now. It was okay, because they have hope.

And a song.

Sing of love

Sing of smiles

Sing of faith

Sing the song of hope.

Long ago, I knew someday

Everything would change.

Long ago, I believed

That day would never come.

Sing of dreams

Sing of healing

Sing of life

Sing the song of hope.

Now that it has

I’m afraid of doing wrong

Now that it has

I’m losing and gaining hope.

Sing of pride

Sing of belief

Sing of change

Sing the song of hope.

Everyone sings throughout the evening, waiting for the all-clear. For a sign that danger was gone. Everyone sings during breakfast and they sing during lunch. They kept singing, kept singing until it was safe. Safe enough to leave.

This is not a drill.

This is not a drill.

This is not a drill.

The same thoughts run through everyone’s mind. There is still fear. There is still worry. There is still danger, and there always will be. But those terrifying thoughts have been banished for now, making room for new ideas.

This IS happening.

But we are strong together.

We will get through this.

We will be okay.

The song carries through the air. It lifts people who need lifting, supports people who need supporting, even occasionally knocking a person down with a bit of humility. The song doesn’t do the work. It can’t. But it can -and does- help everyone help more. It acts like an invisible shield, helping people move past from, but without forgetting, hard times. It can help people learn from each other, and know that every person is important, no matter skin color, religion, gender, class, or ideology.

People sing.

Faith, truth, community, dream.

Like birds.

Like sunlight.

Like shadows.

Even though the sirens and alarms keep screaming, people also keep singing of love and faith and trust, bringing hope. Bad things happen, but that’s what makes the moments matter.

For the todays.

During the yesterdays.

In the tomorrows.

 Even the people far away from the danger zones, people nowhere near the singers, can feel the optimism and the trust; can see the light and the promise at the end of a very dark, very long, very hard tunnel; and can hear the beautiful, encouraging song of hope.

June 12, 2020 23:30

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Sarah Freeman
16:13 Sep 03, 2020

😭😭😭😍😍😍😭😭😭😍😍😍 Absolutely beautiful. The repetition really helps pace it, and it’s just so powerful and moving that I don’t know what to say! You start with that deep, dark, dour gloom of tragedy, then when the first person sings, your tone matches it, adding a tiny glimmer of hope. Then that happiness builds up until the very end when you cut off at the last line. It doesn’t FEEL like a cutoff, though, because you gave readers closure. Absolutely amazing. Keep writing!!!


Leya Newi
22:26 Sep 03, 2020

Oh my gosh, yay! You liked it! It really makes me beyond happy when people enjoy what I've written, and I was particularly proud of this piece. Thank you so much!!!!


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Kathleen March
17:38 Jun 30, 2020

Very lyrical. I love short lines that keep a story moving and here they also convey state of mind. It was like singing or reciting along with the group. Just one thing: I would end the story with "tomorrows."


Leya Newi
18:06 Jun 30, 2020

Oh, yeah, that probably would've been a better place to end it. I think I was scrounging for words with this one, and by the time I was done, my head was hurting and I couldn't focus for any longer with editing. Thank you for all the feedback!


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A.J. Brown
00:29 Jun 26, 2020

Good lesson and something to keep in mind when having a bad day. Thanks!


Leya Newi
15:45 Jun 26, 2020

I’m glad you enjoyed it! I wanted to get across that even bad days can lead to good stuff.


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Leya Newi
23:32 Jun 12, 2020

Any feedback would be appreciated!! -Leya :)


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