Mr. Johnston wasn’t prepared for this. I don’t think any of us really were. Everyone was scared and didn’t know what to do. No one really knows why someone would do this horrible, horrible thing. But, now that it has happened, all we can really do is ask questions. No one is innocent.
“Alright, um Andrew can you come in please,”Mr. Johnston exclaimed.
“Hi, Mr. Johnston,” Andrew said nervously.
“Hello, Andrew. I was just wondering if you could tell me what you experienced this morning during the… incident.”
“Sure, of course. I was sitting in the hallway studying because I had this huge math test, and I wanted to be prepared for it. As I was packing up my things, I just heard screaming. I was so confused that I went to go see what was going on. But, by the time I was halfway down the hallway, I heard it. I heard the shots. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do. I just ran into my classroom and just started to cry. I usually don’t cry, but in this type of situation, it just sort of happened. I guess it's something people would do in this type of situation. I'm just glad I'm okay.” Mr. Johnston and Andrew just exchanged empathetic looks for a moment.
Then Mr. Johnston asked, “So, you couldn’t see who the shooter was?”
Andrew said, “No, no I couldn’t. I wish I could have. I don’t understand why someone would do this. I just want whoever did this to pay for what they have done.”
Mr. Johnston sighed and then said, “Yes, Andrew I will be sure to keep you updated. Thank you for coming in to talk to me. If you could please send in Emily on your way out.”
“Emily, so good to see you. Please, take a seat,”said Mr. Johnston.
“Yeah um, you too, Mr. Johnston. Am I here to talk about the, well you know,” Emily asked.
“Yes, yes you are but, only if you are ready to,” said Mr. Johnston.
“Yeah, I think I am ready. I was in the bathroom just minding my own business. Then all of a sudden, it happened. Shot after shot. After a while, I couldn’t take it. I locked myself in the stall covering my ears. I mean, now that I think about it, a gun would penetrate a locked bathroom stall door. Anyway, I was sitting there for a very long time, and then I heard someone come in. They sat in the stall next to me and slammed the door and locked it. I had no idea who she was, but she was keeping me company even though we weren’t face to face. We sat in there for the longest time. When I realized that I couldn’t say anything, I just wanted to scream. But, when I tried, nothing came out. The girl next to me must have known that I was scared or maybe she was just scared too. I saw her hand go under the stall and I grabbed it as if it meant that everything would be okay. Then, the police came in and guided us out of the building. As I was walking through the hall, I saw this girl that looked familiar. She was from my English class. I saw her face, it was covered with blood. When I saw her inanimate body, that is when I started screaming. I wanted to tell the girl that was in the stall next to me thank you. But, we were separated by the officers.” Emily looked at Mr. Johnston and started to cry.
Mr. Johnston said, “Emily, I am glad you were able to come in and talk to be about this. You are very strong for this. It is definitely not an easy thing to talk about. If you need to, the guidance counselors are available to talk too. Thank you again and I hope you are able to recover. Now, on your way out, send in Katie.”
“I will. Thank you again for letting me talk to you. I needed that.”
“Miss Katie, please take a seat”, said Mr. Johnston. “Now that you are here, would you please talk to me about this morning and what you had seen or heard.”
“I have been meaning to come and talk to you. I am still not able to wrap my mind around what happened. I was sitting in the courtyard and I heard it. Just like everyone else. I can still hear the loud cracking of the gun. I was so unprepared I had no idea what to do. I just ran and ran until I got into the art room. I locked the door and put a table up next to it so no one could get in. All I could hear was screaming. But then after a while, it was silent. You could hear a pin drop. I was in there for what seemed like hours. I still had no idea what was really happening. Then, I saw a police badge get slid under the door. When I saw it, I took my first breath of relief in what seemed like hours. I was taken out to find my parents and when I did, they were in tears. I was trying to stay strong for them. After we exchanged hugs, I couldn’t do it. All of the tears came strolling down my face. I think I am okay now. Of course I am still shaken up but, I think I will be okay. I want to know who this was a soon as you know.
“You sure are brave. Thank you and please go home and get some rest.”
“I will. And don’t forget, I need to know.”
Mr. Johnston was sitting there stressed out with his hands on his head. He had no idea what to do. I’m not sure anyone would. Nobody is prepared for this. Later, Mr. Johnston’s secretary rang, “Mr. Johnston, Kennedy is here to talk to you.”
“Um, alright. Please send her in. Hi, Kennedy take a seat.”
“Hi, Mr. Johnston.”
“How are you Kennedy, considering the circumstances?”
“I’m better than before. How are you?”
“Very stressed, but,I am not the one here to talk, you are.”
“Okay. I am not sure how this all started but, it happened. I think this is the scariest things that had ever happened to me. No. It is. I came to school today just like everyone else. I was tired like everyone. Normal day I thought. No. I was sitting in Biology and then it happened. My entire class stared to scream. I ran to the corner and curled up. My teacher turned off the lights just like we would in a lockdown drill. Except this time, it wasn’t a drill. That is what freaked me out the most. We were sitting there, in the silence and everyone was looking at this girl. She was crying. Everyone thought she was crazy because everyone else was just sitting there wanting to leave and go home to know they were safe. After a while, the door opened and there stood a police officer. My teacher turned on the lights. Everyone was still looking at that girl crying. But, after I got up, I realized that I was the one they were staring at. I was the crazy girl crying. I don’t understand how I was the only one who was scared enough to start crying. This is the worst day of my life. I have no idea how long it will take for me to recover but I will not be back for a very long time.”
“Kennedy. I can only begin to imagine what this had to be like for you. It is definitely a scary thing. No one should go through this. I think you are very strong for talking to me today. And take as much time as you need. I know you aren’t the only one. Thank you.”
It was a few hours after the shooting had happened. Many students have came in to talk to Mr. Johnston. He only had a few more students to talk to and he would then have to go to the police station. “Hanna, if you would please take a seat.”
“Mr. Johnston. I would just like to say I don’t know who did this but I have a few ideas. Anyway, I really don’t have that much to say. I was waiting to get into my classroom and I was told to get into a classroom. I needed somewhere to go so I just went into the bathroom. When I went in, I heard that I wasn’t in there alone. I could tell by the girl’s breathing that she was not okay. I knew she needed someone to comfort her. I couldn’t risk anything by going out of the stall. So, I did what seemed reasonable and put my hand out for her to hold. When she grabbed my hand, I felt that she felt safer. I hope so at least because I know I did. When we were finally guided out of the building, we got separated. I saw she was screaming. I think it was because of the girl laying on the floor. I wanted to scream too. This is so messed up. This doesn't even make any sense, not that any of this would. Maybe if people weren't bullied all the time, people wouldn't think to do these things. Like, why do I have to prove myself to some cheerleader. It's not fair. I don't know, I just think this is crazy that this had to happen. Can I please go home?”
“Of course you can. I will let you know as possible”
“Now, Erik could you come in please.”
“Hello, Erik. So, please tell me about this morning.”
“Well, when the secretary announced code black, my entire gym class ran into the girl's locker room. It was weird because we had practiced this before but this time, it was real. They never really prepared us for this. We were all waiting for footsteps. More shots. Waiting. It was awful. The police led us out to the football field. The only thing everyone wants to know is who did this. It’s really not fair but, whoever did this will not live this down.”
“Okay, I’m sorry Erik but I have to go now. Thank you, I will let you know any news as soon as possible.”
Mr. Johnston went out to talk to the police. When they started talking, Mr. Johnston looked appalled. He was in complete awe. Knowing that one of his own students had done this. He found out that a student was willing to take others lives just because he was mad. But, what they didn’t know is that wasn’t the reason he did this. He had been pushed around like some kind of doll. He wasn’t like the other kids. He was never one to raise his hand in class or start a new conversation. He never let others try to help. He would only let them hurt him. And even if he wanted help, he wouldn’t get it. He let it just get worse until, it was too much.
“So, it was Toby Cavanaugh?”
“Yes, sir it was. We have him over there for questioning.”
“If you could, please send him inside. I am going to have his parents come in to talk.”
“Will do sir. I will sent him in as soon as we get what we need.”
As Toby’s parents came in, you could see the disappointment in their faces. Just by the looks of them, you could tell this was just as a surprise to them as it was to the school. Mr. Johnston walked them into his office and sat them down. “Mr. and Mrs. Cavanaugh, I am sorry to bring you in for this event but, I have some questions for you as well as your son.”
“Yes, we understand,” said Mr. Cavanaugh since Mrs. Cavanaugh was already crying.
“So, my first question being, did you have any idea of this happening?”
“No. I really did not know this was going to happen. But, I did notice that my gun was missing this morning. I thought I left it at the shop because it needed to be fixed. But, no I didn’t see this coming at all,” said Mr. Cavanaugh.
“Okay, well my next question...”
As Mr. Johnston was speaking, he was interrupted by knocking at the door. “Come in,” exclaimed Mr. Johnston. When the door opened, it was the police officer along with Toby.
“Toby is finished with us for now. He will have to come back down to the station once you are finished talking to him.”
“This shouldn’t take more than an hour. Now, Toby. This is very serious. You need to tell me what was going through your mind to think of doing this to the whole student body. Not even just them, the committee.”
“Mom, Dad, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry I couldn’t be the kid that you’ve always wanted. A football star, the prom king, straight “A” student, everything. I’m sorry I wasn’t capable. I’m sorry I didn’t have the knowledge or the strength or the ability. I’m sorry that I will always be a loser, a freak, a weirdo, a creep, a psycho. I’m sorry I wasn’t better. I’m sorry that I never came to you. I’m sorry you weren’t able to help me. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able help myself. And as for my classmates. I’m sorry that you all hate me. I’m sorry that you made it your mission to make sure that I knew that I would never be one of you. I’m sorry that I didn’t follow any of you “unwritten” rules- like how I was suppose to dress, how to think, how to talk. I just wanted to let you know that your messages were received. And soon, I think you will have mine. I will no longer be considered invisible to you all. I will be etched into your minds forever. You’ll always think of me. You will never forget who I am, or who you were to me.”
When Mr. Johnston heard what Toby had to say, he had no idea how to respond. He was not able to speak for a moment. Mr. Johnston looked at Toby’s parents, they were both in tears.
Never again would Mr. Johnston look at Toby the same. “Toby, I never realized how hard it was for you. If there were any specific students that let to this please, do tell.”
“Of course there were. Kennedy, Emily, Katie, Andrew, Hanna and most of all Erik. He made sure to make my life not worth living. I never want to see him again.”
“Thank you Toby. I’m glad I got to hear your side of the story. Now, Mr and Mrs Cavenaugh, please come with me down to the police station. There is a lot to be done.”
“I was in the hallway studying. But, when I got home, I turned on the TV. When I flipped to the news, I was the school. They started flashing a picture of Toby. Wow. It was him. I hardly even knew him. I had like maybe three classes with him sophomore year. I felt this weird guilt. I was trying to remember everything that I had ever said to him. But, when I did, I remembered how I treated him. I now realize that what he did was all because of what we put him through.”
“I was in the bathroom. When I heard it was Toby, it made sense. In a weird way that this could make sense, it doesn’t. But, this school, it’s hard. You have to have the look, the grades, the right car, even the right friends. The pressure, it’s exhausting. I have enough to worry about.”
“I was in the courtyard. I wonder what the kids Toby was trying to take down feel like. I would feel guilty. I feel worse for them than I do for victims. Like, how could you possibly live with yourself? Like to know that you drove someone so far into insanity just to make yourself feel better. It is all so needless. Maybe if Erik and his crew hadn’t spent the last four years of high school torturing that kid, we wouldn’t have nine sets of parents planning their children's funerals right now.”
“I was in the art room. I don’t think I can go in there after that. It was hard to remember the feeling of absolute powerlessness. It didn’t matter who I knew or what I was going to do in life. It could have all just ended there.”
“I was in Biology. My parents told me I can wait to go back to school for as long as I want. But, I’m not really sure I will ever be able to go back. I will always wonder. What if, what if I had been a different type of person? What if I didn’t care so much about what other thought about me? If I had been nicer, would those people be alive?”
“I was in the gym. Yeah, I have spent a good amount of time cursing Toby Cavanaugh. The murder. The piece of crap that had to just ruin everything. We all get made fun of. GET OVER IT. He could have just tried harder. To you know fit in. It’s not that hard. Since when is it okay to just shoot a bunch of people because you were made fun of? Never. And I don’t think it ever will be. That Toby, will get what's coming for him. I don’t think he even really knew any of the people he shot.”