Hope you’re ready for these teeth,” I say.
My smiling hygienist lowers the dental lounger. “Tell me about your grandson,” she says.
“Just started kindergarten,” I say. “But after that shooting in Rockford?—his school went into lockdown. Can you imagine? He’s barely 6!”
Her face pales. “Oh, how awful for you.” She lets me talk—all but holds my hand, so intently does she listen.
Then: “I have a kindergartner too,” she says, “and a toddler. My oldest goes to Freeman Middle School.”
I stare. Freeman, Freeman … oh no, isn’t that—
“We chose that school district especially, to keep our kids safe.”
Oh Lord, what freaked me out from a distance is her ongoing reality. Her town.
“I didn’t know,” I whisper.
She gathers her tools, then turns back to me. “It’s been hard. Really hard.”
And I see stories flitting across her face.