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I was eight years old, asleep in the top bunk of my bed, when I heard guys yelling outside my house. Then pop-pop-pop, and a bullet came smashing through my window landing in the wall just inches above my head.
My dad came rushing into my room, pulled me off my bed, and ran with me to the living room. He laid me on the floor next to my two younger sisters and my mom. I was so young. I had no idea what was happening.
When the police questioned us outside our house about what we saw, I remember noticing that the wrought iron gate in front of our driveway had been knocked down and there was blood on the concrete.
After that night, I started sleeping on the bottom bunk and no one ever slept on the top bunk again. But that wasn’t the only change. It was kind of like my innocence was taken away. I stopped playing outside like I used to because I carried fear of getting hurt. I started paying attention to the noises outside my house and wherever I went. I listened for any angry voices or people yelling at each other, because arguments can escalate quickly into violence.
I continue to hear gunshots near my house and it makes me uncomfortable. My main fear is that one of my family members, not just me, could be in danger. Instead of feeling fear all the time, I decided that it’s better to have a plan in mind to deal with shootings.
At home, instead of doing fire drills, I had my little sisters practice what to do if there was another shooting. I told them to find a place to hide, like under a bed, and call 9-1-1 if possible.
But this fourth of July made me wonder how often my little sister thinks about gun violence, and whether there’s any way to prepare for it. When firecrackers went off, she ran under the bed and laid on the floor. She didn’t know the difference between gunshot sounds and firecrackers. She was terrified, and it reminded me of the night of the shooting, because I remembered just how scared she was then.