When you hear your first siren, time stops. Your stomach lurches, and your legs shake. Time stops, and the world keeps spinning. Your instinct is to drop whatever you’re doing, and run. Your mind doesn’t want to believe that it’s real, but your heart knows that it is.

You listen to the echo wailing across your city as it pierces the sky. Its cry moves through you, and you can feel it in your bones. It screams into the night, children scream, you scream. Someone screams. Screams are drowned out by sirens. You wait for the inevitable thuds, and when they come pray that they missed.

You wonder why you left home. Why you put yourself in a place where sirens scream.

When silence finally settles across your city, the echo of sirens still ring in your ear. Your phone buzzes. Everyone wants to know where you are. You barely know. Everyone wants to know if you’re okay. You say that you are. You say that life continues, but sorrow silently spills from your heart and flows through your veins. Fear pulses through you.

Eventually you slip back into the night, go home, and cry. The siren is silent, but we can all still hear it. We can all still feel it. Outside, everyone is on their phone. Life goes on.

When you hear your first siren, time stops. And then, time resumes.