Thank God It’s Thursday
– Nonfiction by Rebecca Dietrich –
I remember pulling into the north lot at Stockton University, on the other side of the lake with the upper classmen housing. It was no different than any other day for me. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Drive to campus. I parked my car then waited in line for the shuttle to take us to the campus center.
Suddenly, all our phones buzzed and pinged in unison. I looked down at my phone and saw a text alert.
“Active shooter… Shelter in place… Gun shots fired…” was all I could process. The gun shots were reported by a street that was near where we were. The other students and I looked around. We were out in the open. Where can we seek shelter in the middle of a parking lot? We were vulnerable.
Thoughts ran through my mind. First one being “Oh FUCK” and the second being “Thank God it’s Thursday.” I didn’t know what kind of danger I was in; all I knew was that you were safe. It was the only thing that kept me calm. You were safe at home, babysitting Cullen.
Mass shootings have been happening my whole life. By age 15, I had become numb to them. By 18, I had become enraged by them. Here at 21, was I about to become a victim of one? I practiced the drills at school. I watched all the safety videos at work. I was prepared, I guess. But I was not prepared for that text. The realization that it could happen here, that it could happen to me. I was not prepared.
A woman who looked like she might have been a professor called the campus police. She asked them for advice, and they immediately sent over a shuttle to pick us up. I hurried onboard with the other students that had been waiting.
The uncertainty made that otherwise 5-minute shuttle ride the longest in my life. As soon as the shuttle approached the main building, another chorus of buzzing phones went off.
“Shelter in place lifted”
It turned out a man was firing bullets into the air after a fight with his wife. He was close enough to a nearby school that they thought a gunman was attacking. No one was in any real danger, but the fear and uncertainty of those moments stuck with me.
About the Author – Rebecca Dietrich
Rebecca Dietrich is a writer and photographer from the Jersey Shore. Her debut chapbook Scholar of the Arts and Inhumanities (Finishing Line Press, 2023) will be published November of 2023. Rebecca’s poetry has been featured in publications by Plumwood Mountain Journal, Oddball Magazine, and Havik. She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Holocaust & Genocide Studies from Stockton University. You can follow her on Instagram @limericks_and_asphodels.
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