Serge Balassian, BFR Staff
Fuck. Did you fall asleep? You did, you fell asleep. What an idiot. You told yourself you wouldn’t do it. A few hours ago, mom said everything would be fine; there was nothing to worry about. Surely she wouldn’t lie. You crawl out of bed. Just past 2am, Christmas is less than a day away, a time of happiness for a 10-year-old.
Something is odd. An unnatural silence lurks in the air. Yeah, everything seems quiet, but you know better than that. This is the silence you get when the entire world stops and sits on the edge of chaos, waiting for one domino to topple over and set ablaze a chain reaction of terror.
Time to investigate. To the living room you go. Your sister is sitting on the floor, eating Lucky Charms—an image forever engraved into your mind. Why on earth is a 5-year-old awake at this time of night, eating in the dead of darkness? More importantly, what’s all the commotion outside? Before you can even think about these questions, you notice that the windows facing the street are being illuminated by a strong source of light. You hear heavy footsteps and radios, lots of them.
If you take a peek, someone will surely see you. So you run off to your parents’ bedroom and take a glance from there. Squinting through the blinds, the first domino falls over; a long night is set to begin. Outside are more police cars than you can count. A big black van is parked nearby. The fucking SWAT team is here. Mom lied.
Did he pull out his gun? Your dad always had issues with alcohol and anger, but there was no way he was stupid enough to shoot at the neighbor that night, was there? It seemed like nothing more than a simple argument. You tried to stick your nose into the business, but your mom put you to bed before you could get in on the action.
Sprinting back into the living room, you hear voices near the front door. There are people inside the apartment complex. Are those your parents? Only one way to find out. Taking your sister into your left hand and turning the knob with your right, you pull the door and give yourself just enough room to wiggle your head through and glance outside.
As you scan your surroundings, the second domino quickly falls; you realize that Christmas won’t be the same for a while. Much too young, you’re forced into adulthood in this moment, the proverbial cherry on top to an overwhelmingly lousy childhood. You look down at your chest to see a scattering of red dots. Looking back up, you’re greeted by the SWAT team, and you loft your hands into the air, quietly mumbling, “Don’t shoot. Don’t shoot.”