The Gun

A black-and-white, grainy image of a child's legs in motion, on a background that's half beige and half red
Photo-Illustration by Joanne Imperio / The Atlantic. Source: Steve Lewis / Getty.

the gun heard the first shot     the gun thought it was a bursting pipe    the
gun heard the second shot and the third      and the fourth      the gun real-
ized this was not a pipe           the gun’s teacher told everyone to get on the
ground         the gun’s teacher went to lock the door        the gun saw glass
break      and the teacher slump      and bleed      and fall silent      the gun
texted its parents        and said i love you        i’m so sorry for any trouble i’ve
caused all these years       you mean so much to me       i’m so sorry      the gun
thought it would never leave the classroom        the gun moved to a closet
filled with several other shaking guns       the gun texted its best friends in
the group chat to see if they were okay          the gun waited on a response
the gun received one     the gun did not receive another     the gun waited
for an hour    the gun heard the door kicked open    the gun was still    in
the closet   and didn’t know who had entered the room   the gun thought
this was the end       the gun thought of prom and graduation and college
and children and all the things the gun would never have    the gun heard
more bullets   the gun heard he’s down!   the gun climbed out of the closet
the gun put its hands on its head        the gun walked outside       the gun
saw the cameras    the gun hugged its sobbing mother   and cried into her
arms    the gun heard thoughts and prayers    the gun heard Second Amend-
    the gun heard lone wolf    the gun texted its friend again    the gun
waited for a message    the message never came