Brittany Grabel

It's Ten O'clock, Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

You tell your child that monsters, ghosts, the boogeyman - they don’t exist. Don’t be scared, it’s just your imagination.  Not in the real world.  It’s just your imagination.

But murderers, kidnappers, rapists, muggers, gangs, terrorists, random acts of violence, this is reality. What about when your child asks you about them?  Do you lie and tell them that the world is safe?

The monsters of our childhood exist in our society.

Every blanket left covering a radiator is a fire hazard.  Your home will burn to the ground.  When you come home from your guitar lesson, all you will see is your mother sobbing in front of a pile of ashes, and the fire truck never came.  The firemen didn’t hear the siren in the firehouse.  And it’s your fault.

Flash scene to chaos in a suburban neighborhood.  Dust and ruins.  A shocked family.  Stunned spectators. Helicopters hover overhead, and you can’t help but notice their futility.  It must be impossible for them to see through the clouds of smoke.  But maybe these invasive clouds are just the image that they want.

“Live in Lexington, I’m here with sixteen-year-old Brittany Grabel who has just seen everything she owns burn to a crisp, including her dog.”

Every stranger walking down the street has a knife.  If you get too close, they will stab you.  You will die.

Flash scene to a makeshift memorial on a lonesome sidewalk.  A community baffled.  Huddles of red-eyed, trembling teenagers.  The sound of the siren still resounds in their ears, as they carry flowers and pictures of a life taken too soon.

“Live in Lexington, sixteen-year-old Brittany Grabel was having the perfect day, on her way to meet her friends for ice cream.  An average, happy adolescent.  So what made innocent Brittany the attack of a fatal stabbing?”

Don’t even ask.  The answer is nothing that the viewers will be able to comprehend.  It is the world we have created.  Strangers stab strangers.  This is how the world works.  It happens.  Don’t you see?  It has to.

Everybody is a level-3 sex offender.

Every mosquito bite is poisonous.

Every tick you hear, it means that something is about to blow up.

Every time you use your microwave, you’re one step closer to cancer.

Boats always sink.

And a car is just a death sentence.

All that happened in the past day is depressing.  So watch and be scared.  Because this is the world.

No, nobody made a noteworthy positive difference in the world today.  But, this six-year-old girl did run into the street and get killed by a bus of high schoolers.

 “Live in Lexington…”

Is this reality?  Or do we just think that it is reality?
The world is a terrifying place.  This is how you answer your child.

I have to stop watching the news.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.