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The Shot Heard Around the World
“Keep going, you can do this,” was all I could think to myself. My legs were burning and my breathing was ragged. I needed to finish out this last mile. Today would be a new record; five miles in thirty-five minutes. I saw my house coming up on the left and sprinted for it.
I’m winded as I reach my front yard and lay down in the green grass. I breath in the clean air greedily. I hear a rustling of leaves and don’t have to even look up to know it’s Erik. He comes through the bush separating my yard and his and plops down next to me. I can feel his eyes on me and I let out a sigh and roll over to face him.
He’s looking up at the sky now and says, “You ran without me today.” It wasn’t a question.
I fumble for an excuse but can’t come up with anything. “Kyrie, what were you thinking? If your parents knew you went running without me with you, they’d have both our heads.”
“Erik calm down! They need to figure out that I don’t need a babysitter, it’s been three years!” I had had this talk with my parents so many times before. They had to understand, what were the odds of something like that happening again?
Erik sits up, hurt is written all over his face. “Is that all I am to you? Your babysitter?” He stands to get up, but I grab his wrist.
“You know that’s not what I meant. You know better than anyone how that man effected my life and everyone around me. He ruined everything.” My eyes are watering now, and I will myself to not cry in front of him. “That man shot me, caused me to become paralyzed. Remember how they thought I could never walk again?”
I see he’s listen and I can’t stop, I have to let it all out. “I love my parents and I love you but someday I won’t have you guys around to watch me. I need my own freedom. If I learned how to walk again I’m pretty sure I can take care of myself.”
Images start flooding back into my head, things I’ve tried so hard to forget. But it’s too late.
It’s about three o’clock. I’d gotten home early because track practice had been canceled. I ran every single day, and today was no different. I threw my book bag on my bed when I got inside. I changed and was lacing up my shoes when my mom came in.
She smiled and asked how my day had been. Normal parent-teen
conversation. She then said, “Look in your dresser drawer before you leave. I got you a surprise.” She winked and walked back out to the living room.
I thrust open the drawer and saw a new arm band that held your iphone while you ran. I had been asking for one for weeks. But money had been tight, we were even caused to let go of some people at my dad’s firm. But they had told me things were getting better. I wrapped it around my arm and plugged my it in. I walked out to the front door saying goodbye to my mom. As soon as I shut the door, I was off. I started at a slow jog and made my way down the block. I usually ran the whole neighborhood. With my Ipod plugged in I didn’t hear anything but my music. Of course in the end, that didn’t really work to my advantage.
I was going down Oakmont Street, halfway done with my run. I was breathing heavy and had my music turned all the way up. The beat pounding in time with my heartbeat. I was so focused. So out of touch with reality when I ran. All that mattered was making sure my feet kept hitting the pavement.
I then feel my phone vibrate and I undo it from my arm band. I look to see Erik calling. I hit answer and hold the phone up to my ear.
“Hello Erik.” I say a little annoyed that he had interrupted my run.
“Well hello to you too. So how are you on this fine evening?” He says sarcastically.
“Get to the point Erik.”
“I just wanted to know if you wanted to come with me to the movies tomorrow. With you being my girlfriend and all, it is my responsibility to take you out on dates very once in a while.”
“Ummm, sure, I just-” I pause and hear someone behind me. I wait, thinking they’ll walk past so I can continue my conversation. But when they don’t leave, I slowly turn around.
I can hear Erik calling me, asking if I’m okay. But I can’t answer. The man in front of me holds a gun out. He is crying, and looks so hurt.
“Do you know who I am?” He asks.
I slowly shake my head, “Sir, please hand me the gun.”
“No! Do you know what your father did to me? He ruined my life! He fired me. I lost my wife, my house! I have nothing left! All thanks to him!” He’s screaming, the gun in his hands shaking, but still pointed at me. “So I’m going to take everything away from him.”
“Sir, please, calm down-” I’m so scared, but I can’t move. I’m petrified.
That’s when he fires the gun. He pulls the trigger and the bullet hit me in my side. I crumble to the ground. I can’t even scream. My phone lands beside me.
I can hear Erik screaming. Asking what’s going on. The next thing I hear is another gun shot. I hear the man body fall to the hard pavement.
I can’t move. I can’t speak. I see out of the corner of my eye a woman run out of her house from down the street. I can hear her distantly as she rushes over and calls 911. I feel the wet, red liquid soaking up my shirt. It spreads out like a spider web around my body. The edges of my vision start to haze. I wonder if this is what it feels like to die.
I try to stay awake as the ambulance arrives. They drive to the hospital, me still conscious, but barely hanging on. We arrive and they rush me to surgery. I don’t remember anything else after that.
When I wake up, I’m in a hospital bed. My parents and Erik all have chairs pulled up in the room. My parents sleep while, Erik stares wide eyed at me.
“You’re awake.” He smiles and kisses my forehead.
“Yah, I guess I am.” I try to sit up but can’t. I start to panic. “Erik, why can’t I feel my legs?” His eyes start to water, and I know, but I don’t want to believe it. I’m screaming as tears run down my face now, “Why can’t I feel my legs?” I keep repeating it as my parents wake up and nurses come rushing in.
I’m screaming and I can’t stop. I nurse comes over with a needle and says it will help me calm down. I try to wriggle away, but I can’t. I can feel the medicine working into my system. Slowly I relax. My doctor comes in looking upset.
Doctor White had known me since I was little, he was a friend of my dad’s. He takes my hands and says, “Kyrie, honey, there was a issue. When you were shot, it paralyzed you from the waist down. We don’t know if you’ll ever be able to walk again.” He waits as the news slowly sinks in. I start to cry and my mom holds me. Rocking me as we cry together. Who knew a day like any other, could also be the day my life changed forever?
A week later, I’m finally released from the hospital. It feels strange to be pushed around in a wheelchair everywhere I go. I get the looks and the sad sighs. When we get home I have to have help to get onto my bed. After telling my parents again and again that I was okay, they finally close the door behind them.
I take this opportunity to take out my computer. My doctor had said I may never be able to walk again. But that there are still a chance. I type in physical therapy for people who are paralyzed. I never thought I’d be looking up something like this. After hours of searching for a nearby clinic, I find one over in St. Pete. It’s only fifteen minutes away. It would be perfect.
I knew this was going to be a long, hard process. I knew I would want to give up so many times. But I also knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t give up my dream of running track in the Olympics someday. I was going to have to fight for it. Take back what that man took from me. No matter how long it took.
It took my parents no time to agree with me. We started therapy the next week. I went to physical therapy for two years. The first six months were the hardest. I couldn’t move my legs at all. It took time, but eventually, I slowly started to learn how to walk again. All the therapists and doctors said I was a miracle. A rare case. But I didn’t care what they called me. All I cared about was the fact that I could walk again.
The short period where I had to do everything in a wheelchair were the worst days of my life. I felt helpless. But now, I had power and freedom again. And I had earned it for myself.
But then I’m brought back to reality. I still holding on to Erik’s wrist. I let go and he sits back down in front of me. He cups my cheeks with his hands.
“Kyrie Evens, did you know you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met? Or how much I love you? Kyrie I know you’re strong, heck, you’re the strongest person I’ve ever met. And you know your parents and I just worry because, well, we couldn’t imagine life without you.” He smiles and kisses me. “What happened to you was the greatest miracle I could ever ask for.”
I laugh, thinking of all I’d overcome in the past three years. All the things that would stop most people, but didn’t stop me. Not once. I think of my mom and dad. How much they cared about me and helped me to get better. Of Erik, who stayed by my side when everyone else failed to do so. I smile and lay back down in the grass, holding Erik’s hand. “It was pretty great, wasn’t it?”