I’m eager to hear about a particular part of his school day, but I don’t press. He snuggles deeper into me and I slowly cover us with a blanket. I catch a glimpse of my cellphone on the nightstand and remember the text I received from his school that morning. I know what happened, but I don’t know the particulars. I want to know the particulars. We sit like this, snuggled together under a blanket, for a few quiet moments, watching the dog, listening to the ticking of the clock.
The classroom has to be very quiet; he says suddenly, never moving his eyes from the dog at the end of the bed.
During the drill? I venture cautiously.
He nods his head. He tells me that the door to the utility closet can act as a barricade. He says the word barricade, as casual as I’d just said crepitation.
Someone is responsible for closing the windows, he says, his eyes glazing over.
Someone else, he tells me, pulling the day’s events from his memory, is responsible for holding a finger above their head, to remind the class to stay quiet.
He burrows his feet under mine. A wayward toenail digs into my ankle and I squint toward the ceiling. I can’t stop myself from asking what he does during the drills, then immediately I regret asking, when he moves his foot out from under mine and asks me to tell him about webworms.
They’re caterpillars, I say quickly. They hatch in the branches of hardwood trees.
Do they live for a long time? He wanders aloud.
I suppose. I wish I could give him a definitive yes, but I cannot. I’ve reached the limits of my webworm knowledge.
The dog stirs. We look toward our feet, at his brown, fluffy paws and thick plume of hair. He stands up, glances at the two of us, stretches, then walks in a circle on the bed three times before he lays back down in the same spot. My son and I look at each other, smiles spreading. We can’t help but laugh. It’s not all terrible.
We nestle closer again. When we can hear the clock ticking, he tells me that the teachers have been asked to keep their doors locked at all times, not just during the drills. I pull in a breath, release it quickly.