Somewhere among the pencil shavings, pizza-stained homework and a box of broken crayons sits a jar of lollipops.
Brightly uniformed soldiers standing at attention.
Ready for duty.
The teacher kills the light and locks the door.
Tapes yesterday’s calendar askew over the window.
Scrambles behind the easel: careful not to bump the broken leg.
Called to action, wrappers crackle like fireworks in the strangled silence: echoing pops in the corridors.
The children suckle: regressing to the most primal comfort.
Encasing the huddle, the teacher hopes beyond hope she won’t need to call in reinforcements: the Special Ops of the classroom.
They lie in wait, camouflaged in the bottom right drawer.
Just in case.
Just in case the lock shatters.
Just in case the door splinters.
Just in case help doesn’t come soon enough.
They cling to each other and wait.
And wait. And wait.
Through the bangs and pops and screams.
Then the deafening silence.
Today is not the day.
She exhales and realizes she’s been holding her breath for an eternity.
On the front lines of our classrooms they stand ready to serve: lollipops and tourniquets.
One to staunch the fear, the other: the blood.