I had to park the car a long walk away, because the parking lots near the Student Commons were all full.
It gave me time to look for Melody’s cape in every group of kids.
The whole time I was walking, I had an argument going on in my head. One side said I was being silly. The news report said there were five dead. What are the odds that one of them would be Melody? The other side said that if there was a chance that Melody was hurt, I wanted to be there. As I kept walking, the side that said it was silly withdrew to a vague warning that I was going to feel stupid when I saw Melody’s next blog post.
As I negotiated the maze of wires and cameras toward the administration building, I was accidentally captured on video, and I saw myself on the monitor. My black raincoat was, as my mother often pointed out, “not my color,” and the drizzle had made my hair into a Medusa-like fright, and my worry over Melody had made my face like an old, old woman’s. I was embarrassed at even thinking about such things at a time when there was so much devastation, and it made me feel a little more sympathy toward the female TV reporters, carefully guarding their coifs under huge golf umbrellas.
And then I saw Angela Nehman, waiting in line at the administration building, so after a quick look around for watching police, I ducked under the crime scene tape and went over to see her.
Angela has been a neighbor of ours since we moved into our house 17 years ago. She has a daughter the same age as Melody, and when I saw her there, I knew it was for the same reason I was.
We gave each other a hug, and I asked about Kelly.
“I just saw her this morning,” she said, with tears coming quickly to her eyes. “She said she was meeting her roommate for coffee at the union.” She broke into sobs so that she could hardly get the words out. “I know she was there, and now no one will tell me anything.”
“Oh, Angela,” I said, “I’m so sorry. Maybe she went to Starbucks or something instead.” But she gave me a look, and I stopped. She didn’t want polite, hopeful lies, and I didn’t either. We were here for the truth. If we wanted illusion, we could be home pretending it didn’t happen until the truth dug up our hiding place and hacked us into pieces. No. Better to meet it without armor but with five smooth stones.