The Pistol Under My Pillow

Last night, I caught up by phone with a good friend. Tinkered with a new video blog post. Put down strong roots with another phone call to a new friend.

I puttered around, getting ready for bed.

While brushing my teeth, I smiled back at my reflection in the mirror.


Gunshots. Pistol. After a year of this, I can now differentiate between pistol shots and firecrackers. AK-47 shots versus a pistol. I have a warped sense of pride about this new ability.

The pistol shots were close. I spit out my toothpaste, move quickly into our bedroom. R sits up in bed.

¿Amor,eso fueron balazos, verdad? Balazos de una pistola.

R said yes. Yes, they were pistol shots.

The night is covered again in total silence.

The thing is, you learn to live with this. You move the bed away from the windows. You start to wear bedtime clothes that you could wear standing outside of your house, if you had to.

So I turned over and went to sleep. There was nothing else to do.

The cold brought the cats into our bed.


It starts up again, 20 minutes later. The shots are so close that the cats leap out of our bed and run into closets, under the bed, under tables.

We live on a busy street. The cats hear loud noises day and night. But even they instinctively know that gunshots means run for cover.

The night is covered again in total silence.

I don’t shake. I don’t cry. This is not new anymore. I focus on my breathing. I call the cats back into the bed. They stay put.

The song that Penny sometimes sings to Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory – “Soft kitty, warm kitty,” pops into my head. I laugh a little. I close my eyes.

There is nothing else to do. I turn over and go back to sleep.


Almost like an alarm clock, it starts again after another 20 minutes. I feel like the cats snicker at me from their hiding spots.

R goes for some water downstairs.

The night is covered again in total silence.

A horrible space of being completely alert and totally exhausted at the same time.

Is it going to happen again?

Am I really just going to go back to sleep?

I go back to sleep. I wonder who I’m becoming, who R and I are becoming.

Because we are now the kind of people that can turn over and go back to sleep after rounds of gunshots that sound like a news report from a war zone.

At some point, I remember that kids live on our block. They can clearly hear what I clearly hear.


Something bigger is now being used. Grenade? What is it? It sounds like a cannon. I know that it can’t be a cannon. But it sounds like a cannon.

The night is covered again in total silence.

The 20 minute pattern is a total of two hours.

As of this moment, there’s nothing in the local news about what happened.

The violence of the night pushed up against the normalcy of the day.


5 thoughts on “The Pistol Under My Pillow

  1. Giselle, I completely understand this in a way that a few months ago I never would have understood. We see the army out now and it's like, Well at least they're doing something about it. Guys with guns as tall as them don't phase me anymore. It makes you wonder are you less sensitive or were you too sensitive before?


  2. Thank you, Giselle, for writing this so vividly. I think that people in North Minneapolis must have similar experiences many nights. The question of what we are becoming is the best question. Thank you.


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