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Thirteen minutes was all it took for a lone shooter to take out nine kids and three teachers. I don’t know how long it was planned. I don’t know how long the target list was. The only thing I do know, is that I was on it. The only question that really matters though, is why.
There was nothing different about this Tuesday morning. There was no white hot, sick to my stomach feeling. No booming voice in the back of my mind telling me not to pull myself out of bed and go to school, just like every other day of my life. I rushed to get dressed and bolted down the stairs grabbing my backpack off the hook by the kitchen. Grabbing an apple that I wouldn’t eat, I told my little sisters good morning, kissed my mom on the cheek after she handed me my always very healthy lunch and ran outside to catch the bus.
Nearly every day since the first grade, I have sat next to my best friend Justin. He lives a couple houses down the street from me. It’s a nice feeling knowing you have a friend to sit next to every morning, it’s the kind of thing that makes a person feel a little less lonely. Justin’s mom died three years ago from cancer. His dad works a low paying job at the mill, so Justin picked up some shifts at the downtown grill to help take care of his four year old sister. Justin is talking to me about the english homework, but I can’t hear him because I’m too focused on who just stepped onto the bus.
Justin follows my gaze and sees Hannah too, “She hasn’t been to school for a few days,” he says, “she looks bad.”
“Yeah, I hope she’s doing okay.” I really hope she can’t feel me staring at her. Hannah and I haven’t really spoken since the sixth grade, when we kissed on a dare at Matt Baker’s birthday party. I smile thinking about it. She really didn’t look like herself. Her hair was down covering her face and she had on an oversized sweatshirt. The only thing that looked like her was the pastel pink shoes she always wore. She kept her eyes down and her headphones in. I wonder if her dad started drinking again. I slumped back into my seat and tuned out Justin talking about whatever game was on last night.
First period was always slow, and today was no exception. I have a block period, calculus and then trigonometry right after, a.k.a. the most boring two hours of my life. Most days I would ditch, maintaining a B average and always turning my homework in on time, Mrs. Pierce would look the other way. One perk of your dad running off with the school secretary I guess.
Second period blended with first and I made something up about having a meeting with the guidance counselor just to walk the halls and waste time. My dad having an affair with the twenty one year old secretary gave me a permanent hall pass, no one asked me anything because they couldn’t look me in the eye. Suddenly, I heard a loud scream, must be the drama kids rehearsing the new play. I round the corner and see Mr. Gilbert, the history teacher, I should ask him about the test I missed last week. I start to walk towards him when a loud bang echoed through the halls.
I’m watching as Mr. Gilbert falls, blood starting to puddle beneath him. I’m frozen where I stand, but everything in me is telling me to run. I finally get the message from my brain to my feet, I run down the hall and find an empty classroom and lock the door behind me. Who is doing this? I’m racking my brain trying to put the pieces together. Is it the quiet boy who sits by himself at lunch? Did one of the teachers get fired and they’re back for revenge? I’m pacing the room when I see people run past the little window in the door. I see Justin, he looks terrified. I unlock the door and am about to call out to him when I see him fall clutching his leg trying to stop the bleeding.
“Oh my God.” I say out loud slowly backing myself into the corner of the room. I put my head in my hands, tears pouring down my face. I hear the door handle rattle, realizing I didn’t relock it. I see pink shoes come through the door and let out a sigh of relief.
“Hannah, are you-” I stop, looking back at her shoes. With the light coming from the open door I can see that they are splatter with blood, and by the looks of her, it isn’t hers. Lifting my eyes back up I watch her pull the gun out from behind her back. I feel my heart drop. She’s crying, and so am I. She slowly lifts the gun and points it in my direction. “Why are you doing this?” I whisper.
“They need to know that there’s consequences for how they treat people.” She says still pointing the gun at me.
“Who is they! What did I ever do to you, Hannah?” She didn’t answer. She closed her eyes and started to squeeze the trigger. I closed my eyes too, tears still falling. I am about to die. I hear a shot ring out and my eyes snap open. I see Hannah fall, clutching her bleeding arm. Three officers rush in and handcuff her.
“You alright, son?” I tear my eyes from Hannah and look at the man in front of me. He has tears in his eyes and blood on his uniform. He didn’t think his day would end up like this either.