October 14, 2011
By Anonymous

“Beep! Beep! Beep!”

I bolted upright and hit my head on the slanted ceiling.

“Ow!” I said, rubbing my head. “Darned ceiling!”

I looked over at my clock. It read six am. Time for school, I thought. Ugh, I hate school! I turned off my alarm and stood up, careful not to hit my head again. I heard another beeping noise, fainter this time.

“Where am I!? Show yourselves, cowards!” my dad yelled. Then a clicking noise. That’s the gun, I thought.

My dad used to fight in the war in Iraq, but he got shot. Actually he got hurt. While in the streets of a city, a group of people started shooting at his squad. One bullet skimmed the top of his head. It didn’t damage anything, but he lost balance and hit his head on the pavement. He got brain damage, and so he couldn’t remember what happened the day before, so he still thinks he’s in Iraq. He sleeps with a gun, but my mom makes sure the magazine is empty every night, just in case.

I got dressed and went downstairs. My mom was giving my dad the “morning speech” about how he wasn’t in Iraq anymore and that he had suffered from brain damage. He always cried after my mom finished. Then he would hug me and ask, “how old are you?” I’d always answered the same way.

“Dad, I’m sixteen. It’s been seven years since the accident.”

“Seven years… seven,” he whispered. He quickly grabbed his AK-47, cocked it, and pointed it at his head. He had trouble doing this because the rifle was so bulky. He stared at us for about five seconds, and then shut his eyes tight and pulled the trigger. I winced, even though I knew it was unloaded.

My dad, looking confused, stared into the barrel of the gun. “Empty,” he said, pulling the pieces together. “How did you know?” he asked my mom.

“Well, you almost did shoot yourself the first day back home,” my mom replied. “I make sure to unload the magazine every night.”

“And you let me sleep with the gun!?” my dad gasped. My mom shrugged.

“It’s unloaded.”

I got off the bus and saw Thomas and Neil. ”Hey, Eric,” Thomas said.

“Where’s Kurt?” I asked.

“Dead,” Thomas replied jokingly.

“Seriously, where is he?” I asked again.

“Ha caught a cold sneaking out,” laughed Thomas.

“He’s such a failure,” I said. The bell rang, so we walked inside the school. I spotted Arnold and Henry. “There they are,” I pointed out to the other two. “Get in position.” They walked a little farther down the hallway, while I hid around the corner. They passed me, spotted Thomas and Neil, and turned around. As they passed the corner, I thrust my fist out as hard as I could. I hit Henry square in the jaw, and he yelped.

“Ha, never gets old!” I laughed.

“Not funny!” Arnold yelled, rushing to Henry’s aid. Henry lay sprawled on the floor, spitting out blood.

“Maybe it’s not funny to you,” I replied. Thomas and Neil appeared out of the thick brush of the crowd.

“Oh, wow! I didn’t expect him to fall over!” cackled Neil. The second bell rang, and everyone rushed to their classes. After about thirty seconds, it was just Thomas, Neil, and me. Arnold had practically carried Henry to his first class.

“Well, see ya,” I said, and at that, we all walked away.

After school, I met up with Neil. “Where’s Thomas?” I asked.

“Don’t you remember? He got three months of detention starting today,” Neil replied. Oh, yeah, I thought. Three nights before, Thomas got his hands on a pit viper, so immediately, he tried to put it in Principal Harmay’s desk. Unfortunately, he got caught, so he earned himself three months of detention.

“First Kurt, now Thomas! I doubt we’ll be able to do the stunt,” I said. We were planning on salting Mr. Henson’s beloved garden.

“I guess it’s off then,” Neil sighed.

“Oh, well. See you later,” I sighed back. I turned around and walked away.

On the way back home I had to pass both Henry’s and Arnold’s house. Maybe I could…nah, I thought.

When I got back home, my dad was sitting at the table with a machete. He heard the door open and immediately jumped at me with his big knife. He pinned me to the wall and held the machete to my throat. He realized who I was and what he was doing, and he dropped the knife.

“Sorry,” he muttered. “Instinct,” and he sat back down at the table with a blank stare on his face.

Well, I can add that to the list of things I did today. Almost got decapitated by my dad, I thought.

“Mom! Come get the machete from dad! He found it again!” I yelled. I went back upstairs and went into my room. By my personality, you’d expect my room to be dark and littered with trash, but it was actually very clean. All I had was my dresser, my closet full of clothes, and my bed, under the slant of the ceiling. The only other thing that I had was a picture of my parents and me, before my dad went to Iraq, on my dresser. I stared at the picture for a while, and suddenly I was bursting with rage.
Why did my dad just leave us like that?! He didn’t even ask us first! He just came home one day and said ‘I’m going to Iraq’! The day that he left… I guess… I guess I just turned sour, and I’ve been that way ever since.
I realized that I’d picked up the picture and I was ready to throw it. I put it back down. Then I flopped on my bed and knocked out.

When I woke up, I bolted upright and hit my head on the ceiling again. This had become a habit of mine.
I got dressed and went downstairs. My mom was giving my dad the “morning speech”. This morning was different, though. My dad seemed perfectly fine with it! I don’t think memory loss was the only thing he suffered from due to brain damage.
I went outside to wait for the bus. “The bus already left, Eric. You’re going to have to walk,” my mom said from the kitchen window.
As I passed Henry’s house, I spotted him walking about a quarter mile ahead of me. I decided to leave him alone, though.
Once I got to school, I spotted Kurt. “Hey, Kurt! Kurt, you failure. Didn’t you think to bring a jacket while sneaking out into the cold?” I asked.
“It made my mom less suspicious,” he shrugged. The bell rang, so we walked inside. I spotted Henry. He was alone today, so he would be an extra easy target today.
He saw me, and then pulled a black object out of his pocket. He then held it out at me. As I was examining it, the people around him started to scream. As the people cleared out, I saw what the object was. Is that a…?!
I heard a loud bang, and Kurt crumpled to the floor. I turned and ran. There was another loud bang, and I fell to the floor. What was strange though was that I didn’t feel any pain. Or my left arm. He shot me in the shoulder, I pieced together. Then I blacked out.

I woke up in the hospital. My mom saw me awake and screeched.
“Eric! You’re awake! You’ve been in a coma for two days!”
My dad walked over to me and said, “well, looks like getting shot runs in the family.”
When a doctor saw me awake, he told my parents to kindly leave my room so that he could do some tests.
It turns out I got shot in the left shoulder, and some of my nerves were disabled, so I couldn’t move my fingers. He told me to get some rest and left. Instead, I turned on the TV and watched the news.
“One student killed, three more in comas,” said the anchor. They then showed pictures of Kurt, Neil, and me. “These students were the main targets.”
The door opened, and in walked Henry. My eyes widened.
“How did you…!?” I stuttered. In response, he held up a gun to my nose.
“Not funny,” he whispered, and then he pulled the trigger.
There was a loud bang. And then darkness.

The author's comments:
I was inspired to write this short story after I heard the story of the high school student in Columbine.

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