Second Chance: Redemption

February 26, 2011
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I stuffed a bunch of papers in my bag and a couple of text books. It took awhile for me to find my newest Nike shoes in my room, but after a few looks, I found them under my bed. My mother always told me that I had a messy room, but I never could see how it was messy; I always found my stuff eventually. “Your breakfast is getting cold!” I heard my mother call up. I quickly grabbed my bag, swung it around one shoulder, and ran out of my room and down the stairs. I quickly turned to the left and ran into the dining room. A large rectangular furnished wooden table was in the center of the room with my dad sitting on one end. He was sipping his coffee and was reading the morning paper. I saw my plate of eggs, bacon, and toast on the other end. I sat down with the bag still slung over my shoulder and started to devour the food. My mother came out and placed a glass of orange juice down next to my plate. I quickly swiped it up and chugged the contents down. “Slow down,” my mother said, “You’ll get a stomach ache.” I just shook my head, ate the rest of my food, and quickly got up. “I’m going to be late for school,” I said, heading for the house door. “Aren’t you going to give me a hug and a kiss,” my mother asked as I reached the door. I opened the door and quickly said, “I’m going to be late for school, mom. Anyways, I’m fifteen years old now. Do you really need me to kiss and hug you?” I quickly slipped through the door and walked down the sidewalk. As I walked down past other houses, more kids were leaving to go to school. Two of my friends meant up with me as I passed their houses. “Hey, Ben,” I said to one of my friends who was the same height as me and had fairly short light brown hair. “Hey, Rob,” I said to the other friend of mine who was tall and had fairly long dark brown hair. “Hey, Ryan,” they both said to me. I flicked my thick wavy blonde hair out of my eyes and smiled. “I hear that we have a test global today,” I said. “Ready to flunk it?” asked Ben with a smile. “Nah,” I replied, “I think I’ll just copy off of Rob’s paper.”

“Yeah, right!” Rob said, “I didn’t study!”

“What?!” I said in a fake stunned voice, “Rob, the genius of this group, did not study!?”

“Shocking, I know,” said Rob, “But I just had too much work last night. I had to do my chores and help my dad out at work.”

“You need a break,” I simply said. “It’s easy for you to say,” Rob pointed out, “You don’t have to do any chores, you get anything you want, you’re practically the king of your house.” I shrugged my shoulders and nodded. “True,” I agreed. We walked down the street, still talking about what we’re going to do about the test. “I can’t flunk another test,” I said sadly, “Or I’ll be failing.”

“Don’t worry,” Ben said, “I’ll also be failing if I flunk this test.”

“I got both of you covered,” Rob reassured. “I thought you said that you didn’t study?” Ben said. “I didn’t,” Rob confirmed, “But I’m pretty sure that I know most of the answers to pass.”

“Very well,” I said to Rob, “Ben and I are depending on you to get us a passing grade.” Soon, we could see the school ahead of us. The large stretched out one story brick building seemed to be our demise. We all grumbled as we walked towards the entrance doors. But we soon caught glimpse of a group of girls that were also walking towards the doors. The girls giggled loudly as they saw us. They whispered in each other’s ears as they stole glances at us. My friends and I put on our cool act and walked towards the door slowly behind the girls. One girl in particular that was in the group was a secret crush of mine. Of course, I could get any girl I wanted, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get this girl. Her name was Nikki. She had long light brown hair, lightly tanned skin, a slender body, bright green eyes that went with a wonderful face. She was beautiful, popular, and smart. She and I had all of the same classes. But I rarely talked to her, afraid that I’ll embarrass myself. I didn’t know if she liked me or if she didn’t. She seemed to join in the fun with the rest of her friends, giggling and stealing glances. But you can never really tell if girls are making fun of you or admiring you. She would never really act weird around me like the rest of the girls that liked me. When she passed me through the halls of the school, she didn’t look at me, but she didn’t turn away to hide her face and blush. She rarely ever lingers the halls. The only time she does is after lunch. She seemed casual and cool at the same time. We entered the school and my friends and I were split up from the group of girls, but more importantly, Nikki. I broke off of my friends and went to my locker. I opened it and put in my bag. I pulled out a couple of pencils, folders, a notebook, and a math textbook. “I hate having math first period,” I muttered. The halls were filled with students. Most students just got here while others were at breakfast. I closed the door and made my way towards the math room which was quite a ways away. As I weaved through some students, I got a couple of greetings and pats on the back. Suddenly, my mind zoned in on one student. He was short and skinny, with reddish hair and freckles. Thick glasses were on his face and braces were on his teeth. His clothes were clean and tidy but very nerdy. He had a blue button up dress shirt with tan dress pants. He seemed to cower next to his locker as he carefully placed his book bag inside. A mischievous smile played across my face. I moved my way towards him. People that saw me making my way towards the nerd, watched expectantly. Soon the whole hallway was watching me. When I came close to the nerd, I called out in an insulting voice, “Uh oh! Are my eyes deceiving me? There’s a nerd on the loose! Where’s the nerd patrol?” The hallway burst laughing. The nerd hid his face close to the locker, trying to get his books out. I walked up to him calmly and leaned against a locker that was next to his. He still kept his head next to his locker, not looking up. In his shirt pocket, I saw an assortment of pencils. I casually plucked one out of his pocket and looked at it. The nerd just stood still, still not looking up. “Nice pencil, Ned,” I commented, “Is that what people get if we join the nerd club? Or is it the geek squad?” People roared in laughter. “Give it back,” Ned said quietly in a shaky voice. I just shrugged. “I’m starting to really like this pencil,” I said, “But I’m not a nerd, so, here.” I held out the end of the pencil for Ned to take. Ned hesitated before slowly reaching forward to get it. But just before he could reach it, I dropped it out of my hand. “Oops,” I said innocently. Everyone again laughed. I pretended to accidentally kick it behind me. The pencil skidded through the crowd of people behind me. Ned slowly walked over towards the pencil, still keeping his head down. The people parted as if he had some contagious disease. They created a path to the pencil for Ned. He slowly reached his pencil in the crowd of people. When he bent down to get it, I shut his unoccupied locker door. Everyone laughed and I joined in. “Better luck next time, nerd,” I shot at Ned as I walked towards my class. But as I cast him one last glance, I thought I saw something flicker in his eyes; like revenge. I just disregarded it and walked to class. Picking on Ned was one of my daily routines everyday. I’ve been picking on him since middle school. I reached the class about three minutes late, but I didn’t mind. Mrs. Lissa, the math teacher, just gave me a cold look and told me to sit down. I was just in luck as I found that the only seat open was right beside Nikki. I tried to keep my cool as I sat smoothly in my seat. She was copying notes that Mrs. Lissa put up on the board that was in the front of the room. I pulled my notebook and started scribbling down notes. After a few minutes of teaching on the board, Mrs. Lissa flipped through her math teacher’s textbook and announced, “You’ll be working with the person next to you on pages sixty through sixty-two. Do only even numbers.” I couldn’t believe it; I get to work with Nikki! Nikki swiveled around on her seat so that she was facing towards me. She brought out her textbook and a piece of paper and said, “I guess I have to work with you.”

“I guess,” I said quietly. I pulled out my text book and a piece of paper and we flipped through the pages until we were both on page sixty. I stared at the first question, but didn’t want to do it. I never done any work what so ever. Instead, I really wanted to talk to Nikki. “So, um,” I started. Nikki looked up from her textbook. “So, um, uh,” I sputtered. “Do you have a speaking disorder?” Nikki asked. “No,” I answered, “I was just wondering, um, what’s up?” She stared at me. “Just trying to do my math work,” she said in a matter of fact tone, “Do you know the answer to the first question?”

“Me?” I said, “Of course not! Are you joking? I guess you don’t know me.”

“Obviously not,” Nikki stated. I drummed my fingers on the desk and looked up at her. Her bright green eyes stared at my blue eyes. I felt my stomach do flips. “So, um, do you know the answer?” I asked nervously. “Yes,” she stated, “But I really don’t want to work on this.” She pushed away her textbook. I smiled. “Me either,” I said. She smiled, making my palms sweat. She leaned closer towards me with some interest in her eyes and asked quietly, “So, what do you like to do?”

“Well, um, I, um, like,” I stuttered, “I like to, um, play basketball.”

“I already know that,” she pointed out, “You’re the captain of the basketball team.” I laughed quietly at myself. “Yeah, you’re right,” I said, suddenly feeling comfortable, “But I also like swimming, playing football, and running.”

“Oh,” she said cheerfully, “I like swimming and running too. I rather watch football then play it though.”

“That’s cool,” I said. Nikki ran her fingers through her smooth hair so that it wasn’t in her eyes. “So, do you do any work?” she asked. A mischievous smile came across my face. “No,” I murmured. Nikki laughed. “So, what are going to do about the global test that we have next period?” she said. “Oh, I’m just copy off of my friend Rob,” I admitted. “You are such an underachiever!” she teased. “Hey,” I said innocently, “It gets me through life.” We kept on talking until Mrs. Lissa said that class was over. So, Nikki and I packed up and left together. We didn’t need anything for global because we were having the test, so we went straight for the classroom. We both laughed as we told each other jokes and life stories. When we reached the classroom we both sat in the back next to each other. We were the first people in the classroom; even the teacher wasn’t there. There were five rows of desk with four desks in each row. Nikki sat down in the desk that was in the back left corner of the room. I sat in the desk to Nikki’s right. Rob and Ben came in the room. Rob sat down to my right and Ben sat down to Rob’s right. “I see that you are hitting it off just fine with Nikki,” Rob commented quietly. “Be quiet,” I said to him. I quickly turned back to Nikki and started another conversation. More students slowly started to fill the classroom, until it was completely filled. Suddenly, Mr. Otis, our global teacher, came into the room. “Attention students!” he said rather loudly, “As most of you know, there is a test today.” Groans rippled through the classroom as Mr. Otis started passing the test back. “Immediately when you get your test, you may begin,” Mr. Otis said. When I received my test I leaned back in my seat and waited for Rob to get all of the answers. After five minutes of waiting I casually leaned over to look at Rob’s paper. Surprisingly, there were no answers on his paper. I looked at Rob with a confused look. And again, I was surprised when, he too, had a confused look on his face. “I don’t know the answers,” he mouthed. I slapped my forehead and sat back in my seat. I’m going to flunk the test and fail this class. Then I felt someone tap my left shoulder. I looked left and saw Nikki pushing her paper across her desk towards me. She had finished her whole test already. I looked up at her and she winked and smiled. I smiled and started copying. But when I got halfway through copying the test, I heard screaming from outside the hall. Everyone looked up. I could see students and teachers running past the classroom. Mr. Otis quickly ran outside for a couple of seconds before coming back in and yelling, “Everyone out of the school, now!” It took a few seconds before any of us shot up and bolted for the door. Nikki, Rob, Ben, and I ran for the door, but of course we were sitting in the back so everyone else was in front of us. Everyone was trying to get through the door as I heard Mr. Otis and other teachers from the hallways bellow, “Out of the school! Everyone!” Our classroom door was being jammed as more and more students tried to squeeze through. I heard screams and cries from the hallway. Finally, our class figured out that it would be a lot easier if they waited for their turn to get out instead of forcing their way. When I was almost to the door, I heard it. Two gunshots. More screams and shouts exploded from the hallway and from my class. Most of the students in my class were out but there was a few number of us still trying to get through the door, including Nikki, Ben, Rob, and I. Soon, we were out the door and into the hallway. It was more chaotic out here than it was in the classroom. People were running for the nearest exit. I turned to look at what everyone was running from. That’s when I saw Ned and three his outcast friends with raised pistols in their hands. Ned’s bag was slung across his shoulder and I could see more guns and ammo inside. I was stunned. Ned and his outcast friends squeezed the trigger and loud shots echoed in the hallway. I saw a couple of students drop on the ground. “Ryan!” I heard Nikki’s voice call. I turn and saw her beckoning me to run. “Run!” she yelled. I looked back at Ned to see him looking at me. Anger seemed to burn brightly in his eyes when our gazes meant. He pointed his gun right at me. As quickly as I could, but what seemed so slow, I turned on my heel and sprinted with the rest students. Time seemed to slow down even more as I heard five linked shots. Pain pierced through my back and I felt the five bullets from Ned’s gun rip through my body. The pain was so tremendous that I couldn’t even scream. I immediately collapsed to the ground. Pain was shooting through my body. It felt like I was being burned alive. But suddenly, the pain started to numb. The sound of running feet and screams of terror grew distant in my ears. My eyes slowly closed and I felt like I was weightless. I felt like I was floating up. My senses disappeared and I felt easy and relaxed. I opened my eyes and I was in a bright light. Clouds floated around me and a brilliant sun shone brightly in front of me. My surrounding was filled with the color white and gold. I felt like I was on solid ground but then again like I was floating. I felt warmth but I couldn’t feel. A man was suddenly by my side, but I wasn’t surprised. He stood tall with light brown hair and grey eyes. He looked young, but his eyes showed centuries of wisdom. “Hello, Ryan,” the man greeted with an inclined head. “Hello,” I returned respectfully. I did not need to be told I’m dead, because I already knew it. “What do you feel right now?” the man asked. I thought for a moment and replied, “Surprised.”

“How come?” asked the man. “Because I never thought that Ned would actually.... murder,” I explained, “I didn’t think that Ned would ever do that.” The man looked at me with his grey eyes. “I’m not surprised,” the man stated. “How come?” I asked this time. “I’ll show you,” the man said. The brilliant light lifted and was in a hallway. I was staring at papers neatly stacked in a locker. For some reason, I knew I was looking from Ned’s perspective. I could also feel his feelings. He felt tired but ready for his next class. It was middle school, I could tell. I couldn’t believe it; I was Ned. But at the same time, I wasn’t very surprised; I was re-living Ned’s past, in his shoes. My mind knew what to do. I started to walk to my English class. I had finished my homework and was positive that I would get a hundred on it. I was almost to the English classroom when I saw him. I filled with dread and fear. Uh oh, I thought to myself, here comes Ryan and his friends. I watched as Ryan came closer with a mischievous smile playing across his face. I was scared but I didn’t move. I hung my head, not showing my face. I heard his voice say to his other friends, “Hey look! It’s the captain of the geek squad for sixth grade! And the president of Loserville!” I felt hurt and ashamed but I couldn’t fight back. I knew it would just make it worse. “Oh, I forgot! He’s not the president!” Ryan mocked as he came closer, “He’s too much of a loser to be one!” I bit my lip to resist shouting back. I could sense Ryan right in front of me but I still didn’t pick up my head. Suddenly, Ryan snatched up my books and papers, but I still did not move or resist. “Let’s see what you have here,” Ryan said as he looked through the books and papers. “Oh, guess what I found?” Ryan said with a touch of evilness in his voice, “I found you English homework.” Ryan held the homework in his hands while he threw the rest of the books and papers behind him so that they scattered across the hallway. Suddenly, I knew that the rest of the students that were in the hallway were watching me because they were all laughing. Ryan waved the paper and said, “You think you got a perfect grade on this paper? Well, guess what? You won’t be getting a grade!” With that, I heard Ryan tear the paper; not just once but many times. People roared in laughter. My hands clenched together but I contained my anger. Ryan then tossed the torn up pieces of paper in the air and they scattered everywhere. Ryan and his friends just laughed with the rest of everybody and left. Soon, the rest of the students left to go to their class while I had to find my books and papers. I felt so much anger towards Ryan, but I kept down deep within me. Locking it away and forgetting it. I pushed up my glasses and grabbed the tiny pieces of my torn up homework. I slowly started to piece it back together. It took about fifteen minutes before I completely put it back together. I pulled out some tape that I kept in my pocket. In past experiences I learned that I needed to carry tape, for example, this wasn’t the first time Ryan tore my paper up. I taped it together the best I could and gathered my stuff. I reached my class very late but the teacher didn’t say anything. I sat down alone in the back corner where the nearest person was three desks away from me. Whenever the teacher said, “Group work”, it meant individual work for me. When the teacher said, “Work with a partner”, it meant me and myself. Even when the teacher said, “Work in a group of three”, it meant me, myself, and I. The teacher tried to pair me up with a person because we were supposed to be working with one partner and the person was in a group of three. But the person whined and groaned. He took going to ISS (In School Suspension) then working with me. When class was over, everyone rushed to the door except me. I thought I would burn some time in the classroom so that I didn’t have to run into Ryan or his friends again. I silently gathered my stuff and handed in my homework that was supposed to be turned in the beginning of class. My teacher looked at my poorly taped paper. His eyes were filled with worry. “Ned?” he asked, “Is there something wrong? Is anything or anyone bothering you?” I looked down at my feet. I wanted to tell him everything but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to lay my troubles on him. I shook my head quietly and before he could say anything more, I grabbed my stuff and left the room. Suddenly, Ned was in a new position. I was home and next to my mother. Her curly red hair was messy and her skin was pale. Her usual green eyes were dull and distant. I was giving her medicine and comforting her. “You’re going to be all right,” I softly said to her. She gave me a weak smile. “Let’s change the subject off of me,” she said in a hoarse voice, “How are you doing in school?” I smiled with pride and handed my report card to her. She looked at it and smiled even more. “All hundreds,” she pointed out, “I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, mom,” I said sincerely. The scenery changed again and I was walking down the hallway of the middle school. I felt older in seventh grade, but I still cowered around people. I could see them laugh at me because I dressed as they called, ‘nerdy’. My dress shirt and dress pants were the best clothes I had. Suddenly, I felt anger but most of all, fear and dread fill me when I saw Ryan and his friends making his way towards me. The rest of the students in the hallway started to clap when they saw Ryan coming towards me, like it was some kind of show. I hung my head and stood still with my books and papers in my hands. “Hey! It’s the nerd of the day!” Ryan’s voice bellowed. Everyone laughed. My head hung lower. “Don’t feel bad, Ned,” Ryan said in a non-sympathetic voice, “A lot of people have no talent.” I still stayed quiet. Ryan came right up to me, standing tall and powerful. He knocked the books out of my hands and innocently said, “Oops.” I stood helpless as I stared at the ground where my books were now. Suddenly, he grabbed my glasses, but I still didn’t do anything. He put them on for a few seconds before taking them off. “Wow,” Ryan said, “You really are a nerd! You must have such bad eye sight to be wearing these!” He then dropped them and stepped on them with his shoe. He crushed them even more as he grinded them with his shoe. “Oh, those aren’t durable at all! They must be the cheap kind of glasses,” Ryan commented. He and his friends left laughing with everyone else. I slowly picked up the twisted frame of my glasses. The glass lenses were shattered and broken, making it just a piece of garbage. Anger was leaping in me, but I still contained and locked it away. The scenery was replaced again and again I was staring at my locker. At age fifteen, I still cowered. But today was going to be different. I carefully placed my bag that was filled with guns and ammo in my locker. I made sure that no one could see them. Suddenly, I heard a dreaded insulting voice call out, “Uh oh! Are my eyes deceiving me? There’s a nerd on the loose!” Everyone in the hallway laughed. I kept my head close to my locker and my gaze down as Ryan leaned against the locker that was beside mine. “Nice pencil, Ned,” Ryan said as he swiped one of my pencils from my shirt pocket. I felt white hot anger leap up in me. “Is that what people get if we join the nerd club? Or is it the geek squad?” Ryan asked. Everyone laughed again. “Give it back,” I said in a quiet, shaky voice. “I’m starting to really like this pencil,” Ryan said, “But I’m not a nerd, so here.” He held out the pencil’s end for me to take. I hesitated but slowly went for it. But just before I could reach it, he dropped. “Oops,” he simply said. Humiliation filled me. I actually thought he was going to give it to me. Ryan then proceeded by kicking it behind him into a crowd of people. I made my way towards where he kicked it, still keeping my gaze low. The other students parted away from me like I was a contagious disease. I felt horrible and humiliated. I finally reached my pencil and reached down to grab it. But when I did, Ryan closed my locker door. Anger burned hotly in me. “Better luck next time, nerd,” Ryan mocked as he left. Ryan looked back at me. My eyes were burning with anger. Today was going to be different, I told myself, and he’s going to pay! Suddenly, I was back in the brilliant sun. The man was standing next to me. “I... never.... I... j-just.... I... n-never knew,” I stuttered. “Knew what?” the man said in a casual voice, “That you humiliated him in front of everyone? That you were a great influence on why he brought those guns to school that day? That you broke him down and finally made him snap?” I was stunned, horrified. “It’s my fault,” I said quietly, “I did this to myself.”

“Stop thinking about yourself,” the man scolded, “Someone who dies from a happy life has something to remember about life itself. But when a person, who is stripped from a happy life, dies, has nothing to remember life from. Ned’s only happiness was bringing good grades home from school because it made his mother proud. She was sick as you could see; very sick. Ned would work endless jobs to provide money to cover the medicine he had to buy for her. He didn’t waste it on video games, he didn’t waste it on a basketball, and he even didn’t waste it on new glasses that you broke in seventh grade. Instead, one of his friends provided him with their old pair of glasses. His mother died beginning of tenth grade. That’s when his anger was really unlocked. All of that anger built up that you caused made him finally snapped.” I was stunned, so stunned. “What have I done?” I said to myself. “You broke him down; you stripped everything you could from him,” the man said, “The only thing that held him up was his mother. And even then, death took her away. He had nothing to live for in his life. But he didn’t resort to suicide, he resorted to the anger that you caused. When you strip everything from someone they aren’t living anymore, they’re practically dead. They don’t feel nothing except the very anger and pain that the world gives them. They don’t want to accept it but they have no choice.” I was truly disturbed inside. I couldn’t believe what I’ve done. Not only did I kill myself, I killed other students, but most of all, I killed an innocent boy that was still living. “I’m giving you a second chance to live,” the man said. I looked at him, puzzled. “But it isn’t the life you think it is,” the man explained, “You won’t be yourself. In this life, you have choices that can mean salvation, redemption, or just changing a life. But it’s not going to be your redemption but rather other people’s. You will live forever, but you’ll never be accepted in one place forever. And when I tell you to move on, move on. This life is not really for your benefit, but for other people’s. Do you accept this life?” I stared at the man. It was my choice if I wanted the life he was offering. I could deny it but for some reason I felt like I owed so many people. “I do,” I said sternly. The man held out his hand to seal the deal. I grabbed it and light burst forth from our hands. It slowly grew brighter and brighter. “In this life,” the man explained, his voice echoing all around, “You’ll know who needs help. In this life, you have choices if you want to help or not. But once you do help, you are mixed into their life until I tell you to move on. You know what is right and what is wrong. In this life, you’re a different person.” The light blinded my vision, causing me to close my eyes. I suddenly felt like I was falling. Then everything was still. I could feel; I could feel the solid ground that I was lying on; the cold air against my skin. I opened my eyes and found myself looking at a sky filled with dark clouds. I slowly got up and found myself right next to my school. “I’m alive,” I said aloud. I looked down at my hands. That’s when I realized that they weren’t my hands. They were rather rough and tanned. I looked down at the clothes that I was wearing. I had on some torn up jeans with a ripped up grey shirt. When my feet started to get cold, I realized that I was wearing nothing on them. I slowly got up from the ground and looked around. The school was dark and vacant. But so was the neighborhood around the school. I looked down the street where my house was. The whole neighborhood street seemed deserted. No lights were on in any of the houses. Suddenly, a cop car pulled up to me. The driver side window rolled down. “What are you doing out here?” said a rather large man in the driver’s seat. “Um, I’m not sure,” I replied truthfully. The officer looked at me and my clothes with his small eyes before getting out of the car. “I’m sorry, but I have to bring you in,” he said. “Why?” I asked, suddenly alert. “Well, you don’t know why you’re here,” he explained, “You look suspicious, and there’s been a shooting at the school.” My insides knotted. “We’ve been investigating the incident,” he said. I wanted to ask what happened to Ned, but I knew that it would look too suspicious. I nodded and got into the backseat in the cop car. I knew where the police station. It was actually pretty close to my house. You would go past my house to an intersection and turn left and go past a few more houses and there was the police building. It was small red building but there were a good amount of officers there. When we reached the station, the large officer escorted me inside. Inside, there was s small office desk with an officer behind it. The rest of the officers were hanging out at a table in the middle of the room, eating donuts, of course. The main room broke off into separate offices, but I could see that they were all vacant. “I caught suspicious character outside the school,” the large officer said to the officer behind the desk. “We’ll need your finger prints, please,” the desk officer said to me. I nodded and inked my fingers and printed them on a little card. Then the desk officer left and went into another office. I waited uneasily as the rest of the officers gave me looks of suspicion. The desk officer came out with my fingerprint card in his hands and a look of confusion on his face. The desk officer beckoned to the rest of the officers. They got up and crowded around the desk officer. The desk officer murmured a few words that I didn’t catch. They all turned and looked at me with confused looks. “What’s your name?” asked one of the officers. “Um, I’m, um, Brad,” I lied, “Brad Gray.” That’s when I heard what they were saying about me. “There is no record of this kid,” the desk officer murmured to the rest of the officers, “Not in our data base or any others. It’s like he just fell from the sky.” They all turned back and stared at me. I shifted from one foot to the other. “You may go,” an officer suddenly said. I nodded and left as quickly but as casually as I could. I walked down the streets looking at the houses. All of them were vacant. The sky grew dark as black rain clouds covered the sky but it also was turning into night. Suddenly, I heard humming. I listened closely and heard a quiet sad rhythm. I followed it down a couple of streets and to a park that was in the middle of the neighborhood. That’s when I saw everyone, I mean everyone, from the neighborhood there. They all had lit candles in there hands and mournful looks on their faces. Some were crying. I came closer. They were all looking at something. I moved in closer and saw a shrine as you can call it, with pictures of students I knew. Then I saw a picture of myself. I leapt and ran over. Some people looked at me with suspicious looks but quickly went back to looking and mourning at the shrine. Candles and roses surrounded the shrine. These must be all of the students that died in the shooting, I thought. I looked at the whole neighborhood. I saw more students that I knew and teachers. Then I saw Ben, Rob, and Nikki nearest to my picture. Nikki was crying while Ben and Rob hung their head low. I was about to go over to them until I saw my parents push through the crowd of people to get to my picture. My dad stood in front of the crowd as my mom walked up to my picture, her eyes watering and her bottom lip quivering, and placed a rose next to my picture. Tears started to flow down her cheeks and she rushed over to my dad and cried into his shoulder. I suddenly realized that I couldn’t go over to them and say that I’m Ryan, that I’m alive. I couldn’t even talk to them; no matter how badly I wanted too. Like what the man said, I’m not myself; I’m no longer Ryan. I’m a new person now. For once, I wished I hugged and kissed my mom before going to school. The night grew older and rain droplets started to fall from the sky. But this didn’t dissolve the crowd of people. They still mourned over the students that lost their lives. I quickly ran off, knowing that my temptation to talk to my friends and parents was growing. The rain grew heavy as I walked down a street. My clothes were soaked and they were sticking to my skin. As I was walking down the street, I saw a man in a rocking chair on his house’s porch. Something inside me stirred and I sensed that he felt alone, burdened, and sad. I felt like I was naturally drawn towards him. I calmly started to walk up to his porch when he got up and looked at me. “What do you want?!” he yelled. I was partly afraid, but I opened my mouth and spoke. “You looked alone and I thought that I could accompany you,” I said innocently, “And it’s rainy out. Personally, I don’t like standing out in the rain.” Pity crossed the man’s face and he beckoned me to come onto his porch. I stepped up and sat down in a chair next to the man’s rocking chair. The man rocked back and forth as he stared at me. “You looked soaked,” he said. I smiled. “Yeah, I guess,” I said. He managed a weak smile and said, “I have some clothes you can change into inside the house,” he said, “Just go right in and walk through the living room and into the bedroom on the right.” I quickly went into his house and did exactly what he told me. There were a couple of clothes that fitted me but I just put on some black shorts and a white t-shirt. There was a pair of shoes that was also in the bedroom. It was as if everything was laid out for me, like I was expected to come into the room. In the bedroom, I actually got to see what I looked like. There was a mirror on the wall and I couldn’t believe what I saw in the mirror. I saw a tall fifteen year old boy that had lightly tanned skin, long brown hair that could hang in front of his eyes if it wasn’t plastered down because of the rain and grey eyes that had specks of navy in them. I slowly came out of my shock and came back out on the porch and sat back down in the chair next to the man. “Why aren’t you down at the shrine?” I asked. His face, even though it was dark, showed contempt. “I don’t belong there,” he quietly said. There was a moment of silence before I said, “My name is Brad Gray.”

“Jake Krauss,” the man introduced. My eyes widened. Ned’s last name was Krauss. “Is Ned Krauss your son?” I asked. The man’s eyes watered. “Did you know him?” Jake asked quietly. “Yes,” I said just as quiet. “Then you probably know that he was the one who started the school shooting,” Jake whispered sadly. Tears slowly fell from his eyes. “Yes,” I said in a sad voice. I was fighting to keep myself calm. I wanted to burst and say that it was really my fault, that I was a bully. But I had to keep my mouth shut. Jake pulled out a medium sized picture of Ned from his pocket. The corners were wrinkled and some creases went through the middle. “I thought he was a good boy,” Jake suddenly cried out, “I never thought he would go do something like... like...”

“He was a good boy,” I interrupted firmly, “He was smart, tolerate, and most of all, kind. He cared about taking care of people.” I said this while thinking about what Ned gave up to take care of his mother. “But why did he do this?” Jake cried. “Because,” I quietly said, “Because people don’t understand what life really means until they lived in another person’s shoes. Ned never meant to fall down the path that led him to do what he did. Sometimes people can be an influence on what a person does. It was never really his fault. Trust me, it wasn’t.” Silence again. “Where is he?” I suddenly asked. Jake broke down. “Dead!” he pronounced his eyes watering, “He shot himself in the school after the cops got there!” My muscles tensed. In the end, even revenge couldn’t satisfy his anger. Jake flung the picture of Ned out in the rain and went inside, slamming the door behind him. I heard him cry but I didn’t follow. I couldn’t believe what I’ve done. I killed Ned. I wanted to talk to him, to tell him that I’m sorry for everything, that it was never his fault for anything. If anything, I was ignorant and jealous. I knew that I wasn’t going to be successful in life like he would have been; that I would never be as good as him. My body started to shake as anger started to burn inside of me. I was angry for everything I did, but most of all because I couldn’t explain or help Ned. Suddenly a voice filled my head. I recognized it to be the man’s voice. “You cannot save everyone,” the man’s voice said, “Just because I gave you a second life to help people doesn’t mean that time will yield to you. You are like everyone else. Everyone has the choice to see who needs help; everyone has a choice to give help. But it’s doing something about it that matters. It’s called integrity. Most people ignore integrity; they just don’t take the time to see it. Remember there are a lot of people suffering in the world; Ned wasn’t just the only one.” I walked out into the pouring rain and picked up the photo of Ned. It was of this year. His red hair was combed neatly to one side and he had a bright smile on his face, showing his braced teeth. There was no sign of pain or anger. I carried the picture down the street and to the shrine. It was vacant now, everyone left because it was growing late and the rain was pouring. I slowly walked up to the shrine where the other pictures were. I didn’t hurry because it was raining, I actually savored the rain. It felt like a cleanser. I stared down at the pictures of students that lost their lives. I went to the middle of the shrine where there was a bit of empty space and placed Ned’s picture there, propped up. I went over and grabbed one of the many roses that was next to my picture and placed it next to Ned’s picture. “Everyone deserves a perfect life in a harsh world like this,” I spoke aloud to Ned’s picture, “And I’m sorry that I couldn’t provide you with that life. I was the very thing standing in your way. I could have been someone better but I wasn’t. I’m not asking for forgiveness, I’m just showing you that it wasn’t your fault.” A light seemed to pierce through the sky and fall upon me. I looked up and shielded my eyes with one hand. I heard a loud but soft voice say, “You have fulfilled your purpose here. It is now time to move on.” I obediently stood up and the light faded and the world returned to darkness. I then started to walk wherever my soul told me to.





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This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

Jayanna said...
Mar. 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Wow! I loved it! I coudnt stop reading it and I was in a rush! Great story and I love the message :) I could really feel like all of the characters you described and could you read some of my stuff to : through the devil's eyes

thaks and continue writing you've got talen :)

 
shawnrbliss replied...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm
Thank you very much. Hahaha well it's good that you got the message. Sure thing i'll read your story
 
M.Kimmi said...
Mar. 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm
IT WAS GOOD! but long, cna u separate it next time? or like add spaces so it'd be easier to read, plz?
 
shawnrbliss replied...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm
Thank you. Haha sorry about that, I wanted to cut in in pieces but I didn't have time
 
B.R.Nack said...
Mar. 4, 2011 at 10:17 pm
Oh my goodness! That was seriously awesome! You are a wonderful writer, the words flowed beautifully and the content was equally beautiful! I liked how you made it seem like something was off at the very beginning of the story! :) Great job!
 
shawnrbliss replied...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Thank you very much
 
MidnightFire said...
Mar. 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm
I think this is the BEST article that I've ever read.  Seriously this is the most amazingly awesome article in the world! I LOVED it and couldn't tear my self away! You HAVE to continue it or i will cry!!! :) this was great keep it up :)
 
shawnrbliss replied...
Mar. 3, 2011 at 6:43 pm
haha the best that you've read, there's some that are really amazing. but thank you. I'm still writing it, this was just one of the first parts and I didn't want to make it too long haha but thanks. =)
 
Hippiechick10 said...
Mar. 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm
That was awe inspiring and extremely eye opening. My throat was choked up, this story has such a strong vibe. Beautiful, beautiful...
 
shawnrbliss replied...
Mar. 3, 2011 at 6:41 pm
thank you very much.
 
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