Holy Cross Academy
St. Louis County, MO

The bell rings
The hall fills
People hurry with voices raised
They are a stream, a creek, a river
Waves slapping against one another
Running to nowhere

Another bell
The illusion breaks
Doors slam in the muttering chatter
The same as ever, nothing’s the matter
Footsteps fade, echoes of the chaos
I am left standing alone
A solitary rock in a dry riverbed

I walk in the room
The air shifts and churns
Strange and foreign, always the same
The currents clash, who’s to blame?
The wind blows strong, yet doesn’t exist
Feel the storm brewing

The clouds sweep in as we wait
Patience deteriorating, falling apart
Agitation and risk gnaw at the heart
One whispers to another
The first drop of rain
Many follow

A flash of laughter
Hear the rolling giggle of thunder
Flash flash FLASH!
The lightning strikes again and again
The door swings open
The teacher enters

The clouds are gone as quickly as they arrived
The collected rainwater rushes through the open door
I gather my things slowly
An umbrella closing after a storm

The last bell rings
The river flows out
It carries life and death
I swim near the back
Struggling to keep my head above the flow
It empties near a dock
The ships honk and rev their engines
Impatient to hurry away

I struggle to reach the shore
My tired legs thrash
In the churning water
My feet touch sand
I rejoice!

The water reaches my waist
My ankles
I step out of it altogether
Rivulets run off me
Collecting behind me
As I dry in the warm air

I wave to the walkers as they enter their homes
I walk on and on
Never stumbling or halting
A single survivor of the day I have left behind