Here is the prompt for today:
You hear this on your answering machine: "Some maniac at the Elementary School Cafeteria laced the tomato soup with poison this morning."
Whew! I thought, at least my kid is safe---she never buys the school lunch. Oh! That's a bit crass.
My mind wanders toward the worst options, visualizing our favorite teachers bleeding form the eyes or vomiting up red lunch all over the new carpet. I turn on the TV, I want to get into my news station's website. Can this be right? I'm waiting impatiently. Things always seem to load a lot slower when I'm in a hurry. Hmmm . . . nothing on the TV, just the regular talk shows for this hour. When will this page load?
Who can I call? The school, obviously. I know it'll be a busy signal . . . and yes, of course, I'm getting the answering service for the school. Isn't this how it all started, a message on a machine, to me? Also nothing on the computer yet about this incident. Is it real?
I guess I should go down there and demand they release my kid. It's, what, 1:00 pm? Okay, school would be getting out anyway in a couple of hours, I can go down there and get her. Or maybe I should hang back, not be hasty, since I know my kid would be safe? Not only does she not trust the cafeteria, but I know for a fact she wouldn't touch tomato soup. Or anything tomato-ey. She's fine. Right?
The phone rings, and it's Jackie, a fellow Mom. "Hey, did you hear? . . " We talk for a few minutes, and she's already driving up to the school. I get all the details of the scene through her eyes when she gets there----numerous emergency vehicles parked with lights flashing, one fire station ambulance speeding away, the principal by the front door, talking to the police. The narrow road is crowded by panicked parents vans and cars. A madhouse. I'm glad I'm not there.
I'm antsy, though. Jackie hangs up, promising to get the vital info and call me back.
My mind is again trying to visualize what I think happened, what I think the scene looks like. I have to stop myself from getting gory and thinking the worst. What kind of poison was that, I wonder? Did it taste bad, so each person got only a tiny sip before the spewed it out and started reacting to it? Or did it have no taste and simmer in the tummies of those poor little kids, so many of them on free or reduced lunch. I know they ate it because it's the best meal they get today. And how many groups of kids went through the line? When is her lunch again? She's eating later, I think. My mind is racing.
Jackie calls back just to say we can pick up our kids (use the regular pick up lane procedure, the staff is saying, only release the kids to people on the records to do so). She says that no one in our kids' class was injured in any way, that the Pre-K kids got it the worst since they eat lunch first (at 10:30, can you believe they eat so early?), and that school's out for tomorrow. I'm grabbing my keys and purse before she's even done talking to me. And I'm calling the next Mom on this informal phone tree before I can even back out of the driveway.
I am going to stop there, but I have an idea who did it. An estranged husband of a 2nd grade teacher slipped it in that morning, but it didn't even get to her before chaos erupted. 10 Pre-K kids and Kindergartners dead, 30 more children ill and in the hospital, 4 teachers affected, one died on the scene. It was horrible!