Monday, September 15, 2008

ZORA: Excerpt #3 from The Truth About Love

The warning came from the middle of the crowd and rippled through the student mass. “Gun!” The shouts came from everywhere now. Students and teachers scattered.

Zora dropped to the ground behind a white car. The loose gravel scraped her knees through her slacks as water from a nearby puddle seeped into her shoes.

Zora heard tires spinning and rocks being thrown as a car peeled out of the student lot. She crawled to the rear bumper in time to see a four-door black sedan with tinted windows heading east. She pulled herself up by the car’s door handle and brushed the dirt off her knees.

Zora corralled the remaining students back to the front of the school and onto the buses. The students talked over each other, recounting the story as they’d seen it. There were as many versions as there were people. Even when the police arrived, they couldn’t find a consistent testimony among the students who’d been kept behind.

Mrs. Fields, Mrs. Fields.”

Zora was finally headed home when Toni called her from the end of the west wing corridor. Her voice was unusually loud as it reverberated through the empty hallway.

"Were you outside when the shooting went down?” Toni patted herself on the chest, seemingly to calm herself down.

Zora was amazed at how the grapevine of gossip had escalated the incident into a shooting. “Yes, I was outside, but there weren’t any gunshots.”

Toni noticed the soiled bottom half of Zora’s pants. “You were ducking from something.”

Zora’s knee caps still stung even though she’d treated her scrapes with antibiotic ointment and covered them with bandages from the school’s first aid kit.

“Everybody was screaming there was a gun,” she said to Toni. “What else what I was supposed to do?”

“I wouldn’t think you’d care about getting shot and dying?”

"What? Why in the world would you think that?”

“’Cause you would go to heaven anyway, right? You pray and go to church and all that,” Toni surmised.

“Yes. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to go now. Just like God has plans for your life, He has plans for mine too.”

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