First Morning Since the Unthinkable

Something short I wrote after recent events. 

I walk up the stairs, feet scuffing the worn concrete. My bag feels heavy on my shoulders. My vision blurs as I brush past the blue ribbons hanging from the railing and I retreat into my tumultuous thoughts.

The halls are quiet today.

There’s an unresolved tension in the air, things that people are thinking but not saying. It’s plenty crowded with students, just like it would be any other day. But today the only sounds are other feet walking in the same slow, dragging manner and the occasional slam of a locker. Those who begin to talk use low, quiet voices, and eventually trail off altogether. No one else utters a word.

The air feels heavy and the mood dark, like a thick fog has filled the narrow corridor. It smothers and suffocates any words that want to be spoken and clouds any clarity that might be found. Glancing towards a window, I see it’s a bright morning outside. My gaze stops a moment on the blue ribbons fluttering from the trees.

The short, straight hall stretches endlessly. I join the flow of people, meeting the fogged eyes of some and passing others with my head down. Everyone mirrors each other in their gait- slow, stunned, weighted. The familiar space is foreign in the gloom. I wander to my locker, looking for relief from the load on my shoulders. I know that even with no books in my bag the weight would still be there.

The thump as my bag hits the ground is all too audible in the near-silent hall. I reach for the lock, numbly turning the dial to each number. I can’t think. It clicks open and I swing the door to the side, turning and reaching for my bag. I see the lockers next to mine, the faded tan paint blending into the color of the scuffed concrete floor. My gaze sweeps down the cold metal doors, down to my dusty shoes, over my fallen bag. Down to the base of the locker next to mine.

The flowers are the only pop of color in the dim hall. They rest against the locker next to mine, standing guard against something unspeakable. A blue ribbon twists around the stems and its ends fall limply to the floor. I glance at the blue ribbon tied around my own wrist, and the silently crowded halls suddenly seem empty. There should be a person there, in that space occupied by the flowers. A kind person, a person who plays trumpet and runs and whose favorite color is green. I will that empty space to be filled, but my sight focuses again on the flowers resting on the floor, and it sinks in.

My back slides against the smooth doors as I lean against them, stunned. And it’s there the first tears fall from my eyes, leaving dark wet patches on the concrete and staining the ribbon on my wrist.



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