“Get under the bed, get under the bed.” If we weren’t scared before Martha said that, we were then.
My two younger sisters, shorter and faster than I, skittered under and left no room for me..
“Where do I go? Where can I hide?” My nine-year-old voice trembled in fear.
“In the closet. Get way in the back.” As Martha shoved me, I was overwhelmed by the comforting smell of Mom’s Tweed cologne. I sure wish she were here. She could make this stop. I know she could.
Then we heard the loudest noise I’d ever heard-bang! “I’m going to shoot somebody!” His voice was deep and loud. His Southern accent was stronger than ours. Like “Ahm gonna shoooot sumbuddy.”
We cowered. “Are you alright?” Martha whispered to my sisters.
“Uh huh.” I could tell they were crying. I wasn’t crying—yet, but I was hugging Martha so tight, she could hardly breathe and she was trying to pry my fingers away from her waist. I just squeezed tighter. What was happening?
And then we heard it again. It seemed louder this time. We waited, not breathing. Nothing. What happened? Was he coming inside. Were we the somebodies he was going to kill. I felt sticky all over and my throat hurt from clenching my teeth.
Finally, Martha said, “wait here.” “Don’t go, don’t go.” We were crying loudly. So what if he heard us. “Don’t leave us. We’re scared.”
Martha hugged me and pried my fingers away. “I’ll be right back.” Then she kissed the top of my head.
“Come over here. Come get in the closet with me.” Shaking and trembling, my sisters tentatively snaked the short distance from the bed to the closet. We huddled tightly.
Then we heard the back door close. “It’s okay. Come on out.”
Martha took us into the living room and sat us down on the sofa. “Your mom will be here any minute. Everything’s okay.” We heard the sirens and wanted to jump up and run out and look. “Stay here!” Martha was shouting and tears ran down her face. Martha had never raised her voice at us, ever.
Later, much later, Mom told us that our neighbor, whom we had never met, killed himself with a shot-gun. We didn’t even know what that meant. We didn’t know anything about dying or being killed. But we nodded like we did. We didn’t ask any questions. We knew we didn’t want the answers.