Pop. Your son’s stroller hits a rock. It’s 3 p.m. It was 3 p.m. then, too. You’re late because you’re taking the long way. You’ve pushed your walk west from Glenwood, so you’ll happen upon Devon closer to the grocery store. But hadn’t he moved to this block two weeks ago? This exact block? This was the same walk he took. You consider backtracking; but then, you’d really be late.
He was shot on Devon and Glenwood. Safe enough, he’d told his parents. Twenty-eight, handsome, wife Maria. An artist, like you. You might have smiled at him. He was waiting for the 155. That bus stop–a quarter mile from your house.
Today, you won’t pass those little green-chalk ladybugs your son created. When you first moved to Chicago, Glenwood Avenue was yours–the street you’d gotten to know first on your jogs exploring the city. Two miles down–it dead ends into a cemetery. You think of the image you read in the paper. Alderman Moore kneeling on the pavement, scrubbing, bleaching.
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Moore reportedly said of the shooting. A flair for the dramatic, don’t you think, your husband says. Safe enough, isn’t it?
After the playgroup, you forget. You and another mom compare notes. Look over there, she says. You pass the empty drug store where one of ten bullets broke a window. Two candles, a note.
We are sorry, Wil Lewis.
Pop. This time it’s Mutahir Rauf, that Loyola student shot on Lakewood. Mutahir– killed fifty feet from where you live. You get to know him posthumously. Lionhearted, smiling from his prom or some-other-joyous-occasion photo. How long can he stay here? You think about how an hour before the shooting your family walked down the same street, high on holiday-cheer, remarking on the luck of living in Chicago at Christmastime.
This time, you tell your son, who’s now six, to hide behind you if he hears a loud noise. Stay still, if someone approaches with a gun. Don’t run, don’t fight. You wonder if this is good advice.
Pop. Pop. Cynthia Trevillion, a math teacher. Walking to the train with her husband. He hit the ground and she didn’t. You wonder what kind of military training you’ll need to live in this country. You avoid public places and miss a season of movies, concerts, beach-excursions and evening strolls. Better to stay at home, up high. You reemerge and rail against gun violence. You remain on high alert and stay away from crowds of teenagers.
Everyone looks suspicious.
But then, this stops too. Soon, you are lingering on long walks through your neighborhood–pointing out flowers, squirrels, springtime.
Safe enough, isn’t it?
Shanna Yetman‘s fiction has appeared online in Connotation Press and the Writing Disorder. Her story, “The Miracle Is to Walk this Earth”, is the winner for the New Millennium Writings 39th Competition for flash fiction. This same piece also received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train for their Family Matters Flash Fiction Contest. She is a 2014 recipient of the DCASE Individual Artist Grant program. She currently works at Loyola University Chicago as the Communications Coordinator for the Institute of Environmental Sustainability.