Officer Paul Kim will live with the memory of torn and bloodied children for the rest of his life.

I responded to a prompt challenge this week to write a one-hundred word story. And always in the back of my mind, Hemingway’s advice: ‘write hard and clear about what hurts.’ This subject hurts. Deeply.

I hope you like the story.

A First Responder’s Terror Memory

Bob Gillen

Officer Paul Kim shot the active shooter as he reloaded his automatic weapon. Kim surveyed the classroom. Blood, moans, crying. 

“Children, you’re safe. We’re police. If you are not hurt, please stand and face the rear windows.”

Six third graders stood.

“Please hold hands and we’ll lead you out. Look at your feet. Don’t trip.” Another officer led them out.

EMTs rushed in, followed the sounds of whimpering. One EMT assessed five children and their teacher as unresponsive.

KIm turned away, threw up. Vomited his insides. Vomited hope, beauty, joy. Left only with a seared memory of torn, bloodied children.