Monday, June 14, 2010

The Safe Room

We don't have a safe room. Just the extra room at the top of the stairs where Michael keeps his gun safe. He always figured that if the children couldn't see them, if guns were kept under lock and key, there could be no accidents.

Michael is traveling. I heard the glass break to the kitchen door; not a crash, but a sharp ping. They are inside. I can hear their whispers. I slide the phone from the receiver. Nothing. Line cut? I remember my cell phone is charging downstairs. I slide into Madelaine's room and wake her gently. "Sshhh," I whisper. "Come!" She sticks to me like a shadow as we sweep Justin from his bed, still sleeping, and I carry him into the safe room. By the nightlight glow I spin open the combination and select an automatic, slide the clip into place, and chamber a round. Justin stirs fitfully for a moment then slides back into dreamland. I sit with my back to the far wall, Madelaine leaning against me, shivering slightly. "Mama?" she whispers. "Shhh." She goes silent. The pistol rests on my knee, hammer back, aiming at the door. Michael was a good teacher.

The stairs creak. Then the hardwoods just outside the door. My heart sounds like a steel factory, loud, relentless. Madelaine squeezes my arm, but stays silent. "Come on, you fuckers," I'm thinking. "You invade my home, you will fucking die." The lever handle moves slowly. I control my breathing and squeeze.


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