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by Sabrina Hicks

The rumor is it isn’t a drill. That’s always the rumor. Then the list of suspects: the loners, the bullied, the weirdos, the boys who torched anthills in grade school and sling shot quail high in middle school. Narrow down the names. Narrow down to one. Run with it. Whisper it between your thighs with your backpack overhead. Catch the flexibility of your physics partner, the one you made that catapult with in his garage, got a 1580 on his SATs, has a full scholarship to Stanford in the fall. Smell the citrus of his sweat as he insists it’s only a drill. Says it three times with his eyes closed. Listen hard through the locked door for the pop-pop, the chaos. Half of you think it’s a drill; half of you don’t. Wonder if silence is worse. Someone is hyperventilating. Tell everyone to shut the fuck up. The teacher won’t mind you swearing. Tell everyone to stay down. Listen hard. Listen harder while everyone texts words that aren’t enough in a space where no one ever thought their lives were threatened—not really—into the possibility of the drill not being a drill. No announcements. Everyone is breathing hard. Everyone is holding hands. 

Author's Note

I wrote this after my high school daughter had an unscheduled lockdown due to a student screaming up and down the halls. Her teacher quickly locked the door and called the front office. During the time it took for a security guard to investigate the incident, many of the kids in class, including my daughter, thought they were next.

Sabrina Hicks lives in Arizona. Her work has appeared in Pithead ChapelPidgeonholes, Barren Magazine, Third Point Press, 100 Word Story, and other publications. More of her work can be found at

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