Whose idea is it to broadcast the super-size faces of those who died to the far reaches of the school’s auditorium? Everybody knows they’re gone. Why emphasize the obvious even for the sake of a memorial? And why no rain on this joyless day? Never a good Texas thunderstorm when you need one.
I force a glance at the pull-down screen behind me, but immediately turn to focus on the line where the ceiling meets the wall at the back of the room. I can’t bear to look into the crowd, but I can’t look at the screen either. A giant reminder that I will never see those faces again. Weeks of grief have left me numb, but I should have worn my hair down to give me something to hide behind. Just in case.
Light pours in through the ribbon of windows high along the back wall. It crisscrosses the podium, making me squint at the sheet of paper in front of me.
It doesn’t matter. I know the list by heart.
I blink through the glare and lean in to the micro-phone, not sure how loud I need to be. “Ashley Bannister.”
My voice echoes across the vast room. Plenty loud.
All eyes rivet on the screen and a kid from Drama Club tugs the rope of the school bell slowly and deliberately for maximum effect. It must have taken practice to get a perfect mournful clang.