It was completely silent. The kind of silent that is so quiet that even my breathing feels loud. The test that I was supposed to be working on was not on my mind. I looked around the classroom desperate for anything to keep me occupied, as I glanced around, I made eye contact with the girl who has tortured me since I arrived at this school just over 6 weeks ago. Rachel. The very odd thing about this girl is that, she has never spoken to me in person. Everything she says to me is through notes, social media or through her other friends. I have never even heard her voice, yet she makes me miserable everyday.
I suddenly noticed that I’ve been staring at her for awhile now and if I keep staring it will start to get even more awkward than it already was right now so I quickly looked the other way and raised my hand pretending that I had a question. Mr.Murphy came over to me almost immediately, surprised by the fact that my hand was up for the first time, and came over to my desk. “Yes what is your question, Braeden”. I hated my name, especially when people said it. My mom must have been crazy naming me that, it was obviously a boy name but unfortunately, I will be stuck with it forever. I cleared my thoughts of that and made up a quick question, since I had already brought him over here anyways. He probably knows why I never raise my hand now.
My mind refocused back to the test, but doing it seemed like the most impossible thing In the world. I needed a break. We had only arrived in this hour twelve minutes ago. I signed out a pass and walked as slowly as possible into the hallway. I took in the fresh air and dragged my feet into the bathroom. I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself wondering if all that stuff Rachel said maybe was true, I did only have one friend at this school so far, but I tried not to let it get to me. I continued to stand there for another 6 minutes because I might as well make this pass worth it. Out of nowhere I heard the buzz of the intercom starting to come alive.
“Anyone who is out of your class, please report to your classrooms immediately, this is code red and not a drill!” Just as fast as his voice came on the intercom it was already over. I started to run. The panic in the principal's voice echoing in my head made me pick up speed even more. Thankfully my teacher was outside the classroom taking any last glances before he shut the door, maybe he was waiting for me, it was possible there is one person at this school who cared about me. My heart was beating as fast as ever and I did not know where to go. Everyone in the corner huddled up their voices shaking with fear, but know one knowing what was going on. The teacher finally got the lock, and closed the door shut. He took one last look in to the hallway. His eyes were drowned out in complete terror when he finally looked back at the class. He was scared, we were scared, and the class remained silent.
I would say I’ve been in the corner of the classroom, shoved against people who im lucky if they even knew my name, for about 1 minute. I’ve heard one or two gunshots none of which that sounded very close. For the time being, I am safe. I am as close to Rachel as I have ever been.
I hear something in the hall, my thoughts automatically go to the worst thought possible. This classroom is next. My hands are shaking along with the rest of my body, this is the worst thing that I have witnessed in my life. I can hear everything, I can hear the pounding of doors getting kicked in, getting closer, closer and closer as every second goes by. With the blinds on the door shut, he could come in at any moment and we would have no way to tell. I think that would be the most terrifying part. The fact that these final thoughts could be my last, and what i'm seeing could be the last time I see it but I am completely oblivious to it.
27 more seconds have passed, I am watching the digital clock tick, seeming like forever between every second. I’ve been counting the gunshots, 14. He is in the room next to us because I can hear it clear as day. I am terrified for my life. There has been a pattern in every classroom, three gunshots and then footsteps back in the hall. He is moving at a very fast pace, wanting to get everything taken care of before the cops show up, I’m hoping he doesn’t have much time to aim because I’m right near the center of the big huddle we are all packed in, when the door knob starts to wiggle. It starts out softer but then gets aggressive as finally the door opens and reveals the person everyone was terrified to even look at.
It all seemed like slow motion at the time, but I figured out it had all happened in a matter of 5 seconds. One bullet fires, it hits the leg of a desk. Second bullet gets shot. I can see where it is aiming, right beside me, but not at me. It is heading directly into rachel whose eyes are closed and body turned, overwhelmed with fear. I could see where the bullet was going and I knew this would be the last time anyone would ever see Rachel. I could not let this happen, I would not be able to live with this guilt forever. Without even thinking I jumped over and hurled my whole body protecting Rachels. Then it hit me, right in the elbow part of my arm, where if I hadn't have jumped would have hit Rachel directly in the back. My whole body went numb, still in shock of what just happened. Everything was a blur, I felt dizzy, as I heard the last bullet get shot, but before I could tell where it went everything went black and I went numb.
The last thing I remember after hitting the ground was hearing the sound of the ambulance fading away as I was rushed in to the hospital, I was in excruciating pain. This has been the most intense moments in my life, I still can not believe what I have done. I am being wheeled around at very fast speeds throughout the hospital. I end up in a room full of beeping sounds with very cold air. When I tried to speak, I felt far away from everyone and confused, nobody could hear me. All I could do was listen. So I did. I heard the doctor say in an intimidating voice, “she needs help right away please bring in any doctor that you can.” We have discovered another wound right near her ribs and we are unsure what it could be affecting at this moment.” At the sound of that 2 nurses went charging in to the hallway. I was scared for my life at that second more than ever. They poked multiple needles in my arm and as each of them kept coming, the more tired I became before I was finally completely unconscious. I woke up to the nurse jerking me around trying to wake me up. I was too afraid to look down, I didn’t want to see anything they could have possibly done so far.
“We just finished your first operation, but sadly not your final. We have woke you up to see if you are able to communicate with us properly. So if you could repeat this sentence after me, everything is going to be okay” When I opened my mouth it sounded shaky but I said,
“Everything is going to be okay.”
“We do not know how many operations this could take, it could be just one more or several, but please remain calm. As of now you are not in any fataling experience. It could change but we are hoping everything goes right, and you will be out of here in no time!” but she said it in a voice that was trying to sound joyful, but ended up, coming out pretty pathetic. The only answer I wanted to provide was,
Multiple needles have been stuck into my arm once again, I predicted it has only been about 1 hour in between this operation and the last. Everyone in the hospital sounds really worried, not just the nurses, but everyone including the other patients in my room. I motioned for my mom to come over to my bedside.
“What’s wrong??” everything she says, is said with intense panic at all times.
“Why is everyone so worried?” I asked sounding pretty anxious myself.
“I'm sure everything is alright, they always look like this, they are operating at all times, and have several people’s life on the line.” That made me feel a little less uneasy but still my gut told me there was something wrong.
Footsteps used to just be footsteps, but now my brain is on high alert everytime I hear them, a constant memory of what occured only about 3 hours ago. But here, all you hear is constant footsteps. I can not get comfortable, I can not sit still, I am sick of seeing the same people for the past few hours, I want to see someone, anyone, but here I am stuck. Just as I was thinking that, I got an alert on my smart board, which just shows me how I am doing for the day and when someone is coming, and who is visiting and the nurse can put her important things on, but who I was seeing on this I couldn’t make out at first but as soon as I realized, it sent my body in to full alert. It was the same person who was just im our school taking innocent lives, now here to finish mine. I am all alone in this room as of now, my mom is getting us lunch at the kitchen and the nurses are no longer needing to stay by my side. I need to find out what to do. He doesn’t want to take anyone in the hospitals life but mine, I need to escape. I am on the first floor, at the very end of a quite lengthy hall way, but I still do not have much time. I starting looking for my phone and find it, barely holding a charge at 3%. I know that since its the iPhone 5c the battery life is even lower than it actually says, but it was worth trying to call the cops and save my life, I unlock it, click on the phone icon, then it freezes and goes dead. Talk about unfortunate. I glance everywhere around the room looking for another phone but I couldn’t find anything.
“What kind of hospital doesn’t have a phone?!?” I mumbled under my breath. There was no hope left for me with a phone, I needed a new plan and I needed it now. I looked over towards the window, and across the street a little towards the left was a police station. Quick thoughts went through my brain. There was no way I could make it to the front office without, 1.) Getting stopped by a nurse because I am not even supposed to be out of a hospital bed with a battle wound in my arm, and possible bullet somewhere else and, 2.) Meeting face to face with the person who wants my life gone. I would have to, go one other way and I knew exactly what to do. I double checked to make sure my room was locked and slipped on my pants and shirt that was laying on my bedside and ripped off the gown. I sat up very cautious and my bare feet hit the icy cold tile. I could not find my shoes anywhere, so I guess I would go without. My arm that just had gotten the surgery done was completely weak and useless as it dangled by my side, not wrapped up yet. I walked very fastly over to the window and with the little strength I actually have, I unlocked it and pushed it open. The frigid air made me shiver right away. I put one foot in front of the other and was now, barefooted standing outside of a hospital in Albany New York about to take a run to save my life.
I had no hesitation I ran over to the crossing guard and told him he needed to stop the traffic now and he looked me up and down and saw my condition and sprinted in to the road. The traffic halted and I went across the street as fast as I could. Completely out of breath, I was still running through the parking lot of Burger King, and then through the parking lot of the police station until I found myself, practically collapsing at the doors. With the little energy I had left, I ran to the front desk and said I needed a police officer now, because my life was on the line. They came running out of the back as the front desk lady hollered back, her voice sounding slightly panicked. I explained to them in the most desperate voice what had happened to me. They were the only ones left here, every other police officer was at the school looking for the man taking everyones lives. I told them that he was targeting me and I snuck out of the hospital.
He went on his walkie-talkie and indicated that the man they were looking for was right in front of their hands, and we were out the door. They told me to sit in the back and they pulled out immediately, but they didn’t have their siren on, in fear he might run away. We got to the hospital dodging through traffic in under 12 seconds. I showed them where I came from and they hopped through the window with me, waiting. I was instructed to hide in the bathroom of my room, with the light off and it locked. My mom still was in the kitchen, at least I hoped. I cracked the door open the tiniest bit and peered through the crack. I could not see the police anywhere. They were in hideout, waiting for this evil man. Then, I saw it. The door finally opened, very slowly but I knew it was opening. A big black sneaker stepped in followed by another, the man was in the room. The police came out guns pointed daring him to take another step. He dropped his weapon as the police yelled out to him,
“PUT YOUR HANDS UP”. Realizing he was caught for good he did as instructed. One officer patted him down and the other handcuffed him. I stepped out of the bathroom, his back was faced to me. The police told him to take a look, and he did. When his eyes met mine, I could not believe me eyes. It was Rachel’s ex-boyfriend who she had dumped only 2 days before this incident. My voice was shaky, but I needed to ask,
“Why are you after me? Why are you doing this? What did any of those people do to you?” He closed his eyes. Took a deep breath and said back to me, Rachel dumped me and broke my heart, I wanted her dead, along with her friends and I killed anyone that was in the way. “
“But I have never spoken a word to you until now, I only know your name from the halls, why were you after me?” He took one last deep breath and said,
“I was trying to get Rachel and you jumped in front of her and saved her life, two bullets that would have hit her, got you and that is why I came after you. I needed revenge on you as well for taking away my chance of never seeing her again.” As he finished his sentence the police officer said,
“you got your wishes, you will never see her again, because you will be in jail for the rest of your life, just like you deserve.”
Nobody in the hospital except for who was in this room knew this was happening. “They start to haul him out of the room, actually through the door this time and word got around the hospital about what had happened. When suddenly my mother came exploding through the doorway, tears streaming down her face, panic swarming through her eyes as the food she was carrying dropped to the floor. She hugged me for the longest time I have ever been hugged in my life. I was not a hugger, but It was okay this one time. I slowly got back into my bed putting the gown back over me and my clothes by the bedside. Whatever they put in those needles that went into my arm sure was taking a toll on me. The last thought I remember before drifting asleep was that, I saved two lives today.
15 Weeks Later
I am out of the hospital, I have been for a few weeks now. The undiscovered bullet was found near my other collarbone. It was okay. I am okay. But for my whole life I will remember such an event. When I finally showed back up at school, I made eye contact with Rachel. Instead of walking by, she started walking over to me, the walk turned to a fast jog, and the jog turned into a sprint, when suddenly I was hugging her back, her tears filling her eyes overwhelming her. She said to me through her tears,
“Please forgive me for everything I’ve done to you, even though it may be unforgivable. I realize that you sacrificed your life to save mine, and I could never repay you or thank you enough. You saved my life, even when I tried to ruin yours. Tears began to fill my eyes as well. With a shaky voice I said,
“I forgive you.” I looked at her for a few more seconds, now her tears slowing running down her cheeks, I turned around and started walking away. I didn’t want to hear anymore sympathy from her, or from anyone else. I forgave her and that's the most important part.
Forgiveness is everything.