The following is a guest post by my daughter, Agatha Rose who is a 10th grader. I assisted in copyediting only.  


I hear the trumpets from down the street. The noise is beautiful.

In fact, I wouldn’t even consider it noise at all. It’s art. I’m writing because the trumpets let me decompress. I’m not sure why, and wish I did because I hate writing–nobody understands my train of thought. Except the writer who lives next door, and the one down the street, and the one juggling two jobs because the true art he produces each night after his shift at the gas station isn’t good enough. Thousands of thoughts, but none come out–is it just me, or do I have a case of permanent writer’s block? 

A Hispanic boy passes my house on his bike, struggling to get up the hill. He stops, takes a few breaths, and keeps going holding a piece of candy in one of his hands. I wish my writing could mean something. I wish the trumpets were louder. And I wish to be the boy who learned to persevere up the hill. But I can’t just wish and hope for change, so I sit here and type as the sun starts to set and sharp pain begins to form in my back. I’m trying to figure it out, but it’s hard. My breathing picks up, and tears form. I want to scream how I feel, but I’m afraid. A red bird flies past my window, it had something in it’s mouth. The trumpets change tune, I hear a gunshot. A child cries out.

My dogs come into my room, tails between legs. I hear a scream. People start forming a circling around a nearby house. Someone is crying. Other people are whispering. I go outside, I can’t remember if I closed the door. The ground begins to soften. I blink a few times when my vision starts to go blurry, and all my worries wash away. I keep walking. I follow a women, maybe in her forties holding hands with a little boy who grasps a red toy dinosaur with some kind of prey in its mouth. I blink a few more times, my vision comes back, but my neck starts to cramp. I get to the crowd, but can’t see what’s happening. I hear crying. But this cry was out of love, not hate, and I push my way through the edge of the crowd. Brushing against unknown neighbors, the trumpets are replaced by sirens. I see red on the ground and trace it to a dead man with a hole in his stomach. He’s holding a gun. I hear a clatter behind me. I turn I see the mom tugging her son back to their house. He drops the dinosaur and begins to cry–but she pulls him and pulls him until he has no strength to fight back. My head was getting foggy. We were told to clear the area once the first responders arrived. I never found exactly what happened.

But of course I heard my neighbors gossiping while I watered the roses. “He was crazy,” they said. “We all saw it coming,” they agreed.

“He was a writer,” I whispered. Then walked away.

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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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