One question. That’s all I have. How long did you plan?
I’m a planner. Are you?
Earlier that day I took a test after years of prep.
And a lifetime of crap.
At 12 PM, the testing timer buzzed.
High pitched and loud. Others jumped. Not me.
I planned my time well.
Dropped my #2 pencil. Wiped
my sticky palm across my leg.
Twisted my ring counter-clockwise, twice.
Heck, I’ll take good vibes any day.
The computer processed scores.
I passed. Like I had always planned.
At 2 PM, I was a newly minted EMT.
Planning to save others my entire life.
First, I’d celebrate at a favorite club.
Like I had always planned.
With my study pals. Friends for life.
Wearing matching leather jackets and our favorite denim.
Before scrubs would become our preferred attire.
At 8 PM, we waited at the crowded entrance.
Joking about the trick question,
the one about cardiac arrest, that we each got right.
At 8:09, I felt it.
At 8:10, I felt nothing.
I never planned to be the victim of a random act of violence.
One of many. Last year, our city lost 100s to drive-bys.
The year to date rate climbs higher.
I planned to be an EMT my entire life.
Studying manuals. Saving pennies.
A day off from my minimum wage
dead-end job at the warehouse,
near the corner of Broad and 10th,
to sit for the test that would change my life.
Then, it was over. Because of you.
How long did you plan?
Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. Her work appears in The Coil, The Write Launch, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Popular Culture Studies Journal, One Sentence Stories, and other literary and scholarly journals.