Safe - by C.H. Williams (Flash Fiction 2021)

C.H. Williams is a full-time mum who writes contemporary fiction novels, short stories, flash pieces, and poetry. She can often be found with a jar of peanut butter in one hand and a bar of dark chocolate in the other, which coincidentally makes it rather difficult to type. Find her on Instagram @Taylor.R.Denali

Safe

by C.H. Williams

I played dead as I lay there dying. I had been on my way to gym class—a class I’ve never been fond of—this time, I wish I had made it there.

He didn’t say anything, he just started shooting. There was no warning or reason given.

Bullets ricocheted off the walls, the lights, the lockers.

I couldn’t remember how many of us were there, but we ran and I stumbled.

One shot rang so loud it hurt my brain; must have been the one that got me. I was already down, panic tripping me as though the emotion itself had tied my shoelaces together. I didn’t know what it felt like to be shot. The shock of it stopped me from experiencing the pain. The dampness which spread as I lay on the ground gave it away. Blood. I could feel the wetness; my jeans were heavy with it.

Tiny mounds of dust had collected under the lockers. A tiny triangle of paper peeked from one of the metal cases. It could be a note from class, a hurried reminder on long division, or the very tip of a lost love letter. 'Will you be my girlfriend?' Circle 'Yes' or 'No'. 

As my wound wept, I tried not to. I counted the seconds until they reached a full minute. My left cheek was cold and sticky. Any movement would leave a residue of sweat on the floor.

I counted a full six minutes.

The doors opened again and I prayed it wasn't him.

I lay transfixed on the dust.
    ‎
"It's okay,” a voice called. "It's safe now.”
Safe is a funny word. You keep your money in a safe. People hide their most treasured possessions in a safe. That's where people keep their guns. But there's no safe for people. No place where we can be stored without threat. There are no safe places anymore.

There must be a huge patch of red now where my blood has soaked through the top of my jeans. I'm dying. Fear keeps me stapled to the floor as the wetness goes cold.
    ‎
"Charlie," they said my name gently, "Charlie, are you hurt?" Faces disturbed my focus on the dust.

I remained as still as possible as they inspected me.

They must be so worried with the blood, so much blood.

I'm gonna die.

"Poor boy has wet himself," a voice said somewhere above me. They peeled me off the floor. They wanted me to stand but how could I?

Somehow my legs supported my weight. My muscles tingled as they woke from the crumpled position I had held on the floor.

There was no blood.

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