Three months later…
Since leaving St. Margaret’s my aunt made good on her promise.
I was now leading the life I would have had if she had not given me the opportunity to attend such a prestigious school. My new accomodations were courtesy of McComb’s Boarding School for Girls, a run-down piece of crap that was more like a house than an actual school. After I had left St. Margaret’s I was quickly transferred to McComb’s and started that very next week. My aunt couldn’t wait to get me out of her house.
So many things were different about my new living arrangements. I had to get used to sharing a room with four other girls for one. Even though McComb’s student body was much smaller than St. Margaret’s, there wasn’t enough space for every girl to have her own room. My roommates names were Lucy, Sharon, Anna and Susie. Sharon and Susie were alright, they were pretty nice. Anna was a little quirky with her thick, round glasses and blunt, dark bangs. I didn’t like Lucy at all. She was always really nosy and talked all the time, even in her sleep. She had to know everyone’s business and couldn’t keep anything to herself. We all tried to avoid her but it’s not easy to do when you share a room with her.
I also had to get used to the fact that any ideas of going to a big fancy college were completely out the window. Girls who attended McComb’s were just the rubbish that the best colleges didn’t want on their campuses. The best I could hope for now was a state college.
I quickly got used to my new lot in life and tried to make the best of things, at least I could start over. At least no one here knew that I was damaged goods. All of that would change though, because the worst was yet to come.
The school’s annual Spring trip was coming up and it was the students’ job to raise the money, can’t get something for nothing. That year the school decided to host a community picnic. Each of us was given a job. My job was in charge of admissions. I got to stand at the entrance and didn’t get to eat until everyone had shown up.
The day of the picnic the house was chaotic. We all had to prepare a dish and get the house cleaned up in case we had to move the picnic inside. A few of the girls tried to hide and leave the rest of us to do the work. Lucy complained of a hurt wrist and couldn’t lift so much as a duster.
“It just hurts so bad. I need to rest it.” she complained as she propped herself up on her bed and balanced a magazine on her knees. I rolled my eyes and continued tidying my part of the room. I was just ready for this day to be over. Anna decided to take it upon herself to help Lucy by cleaning her part of the room as well as her own.
“You don’t have to do that.” I told her.
“It’s okay.” she said, “I don’t mind helping her.” she smiled, exposing the unusual amount of metal in her mouth that only added to her peculiar appearance.
That evening everyone was in a rush finishing up their chores as guests started to arrive. I stood at the front gate and welcomed everyone charging $5 a head. I was curious how much this would actually bring in considering how much we spent on groceries. In addition to an admission fee, guests were encouraged to make donations to our humble little school. The picnic started pretty immediately but it took over an hour for everyone to show up. I watched as all the food dwindled away wondering if there would be anything left by the time I could get over there. Just as I was closing the gate I noticed a couple of guys who looked to be about my age riding by on bicycles. I watched them for a minute trying to remember the last time I had ridden one when I realized that one of them looked really familiar. The other had his hood up so I couldn’t see his face. They rode away before I could get a better look so I shrugged it off and walked inside. The rest of the evening was unremarkable.
The next day we all found out that we had successfully raised enough money for our trip. A week from then we would be on our way to Hermosa Beach for three days of fun in the sun. I was really looking forward to it, it would be my first trip to the beach ever. We celebrated by finishing lessons early that day to plan what we all wanted to do while we were there.
That evening after dinner it was my turn to take the trash out. I gathered it all and hauled it out the door. I piled it into the trash cans and pulled them to the front to be dumped the next morning by the city trash crew. Once I got the heavy bins to the curb I stopped to catch my breath and looked up and down the street to catch any last minute evening activity. The boys riding their bikes from the night before were making their rounds again. This time they both had their hoods up. I watched them for a minute when I realized they were coming towards me. In a split second I noticed something shiny in one of the boys’ hand. As they got closer I realized it was a gun. They rode closer and closer. I slowly backed up towards the house. The boys pulled up to the yard and dropped their bikes. They walked towards me, they both had a gun in their hands. I turned and ran into the house screaming.
“SOMEONE’S COMING AND THEY HAVE GUNS!!!” Some of the girls heard me and scattered. I grabbed a couple of the younger girls and dragged them into the nearest room and locked the door. I heard the front door swing open, hitting the wall. Then the sound of a gunshot. I could hear screaming and running, more gunshots. I held the two girls I had while we sat under a table sobbing and shaking, hoping to God they didn’t find us. The gunshots became more muffled as the boys got deeper into the house. I was suddenly struck with an idea, albeit a stupid one. I left the girls under the table telling them to stay where they were, I slipped over to the door and quietly opened it. I peeked out to see if any of the gunmen were in sight. I didn’t see any and I figured I could make it to the front door. Maybe I could slip out and call for help.
“Lock the door as soon as I leave. I’m going to try to get help.” The younger of the girls nodded to me and did as she was told. I ran to the front door as quietly as I could praying to not be discovered. My heart pounding, I made it out and headed straight for the neighbors. I heard a gunshot ring out as I knocked on the door of the closest neighbor. There was no answer. I knocked and knocked but no one came to the door. I ran to the neighbor on the other side and knocked on their door. They stood in the entry shaking their head.
“Go away!” She yelled. She was an older lady and she looked scared to death. “I don’t want any trouble, just please go away!”
“WE NEED HELP!” I screamed. “Please call the cops!” She continued to shake her head and backed away out of sight. I ran to the next house and it was dark, no one was home. I felt completely helpless. How many of my classmates had been shot by now? Why was this happening? I didn’t know what I was going to do next but thankfully I heard sirens. I saw the emergency vehicles zip by and I ran back to my school. They stopped and police officers jumped out to handle the situation. It only took a few minutes but one of the guys had been apprehended, the other had gotten away.
One of my teachers, Mrs. Reno saw me and yelled, “There she is!” I looked around confused. She ran over to me and pulled me into her arms. “We couldn’t find you, we didn’t know what happened to you.” She was crying, there was blood on her shirt.
“I ran to get help.” was all I could say. She walked me over to the house and we stood there as they pulled five bodies out on stretchers. Only two were still living.
“Who are they?” I asked.
“Amanda Giles, Jenna Kline and Anna Roland.” Anna. To know that such a sweet girl was dead just broke me. I started sobbing and I couldn’t stop. Mrs. Reno just held me and cried with me.
That evening no one slept. We couldn’t shake the feeling of being unsafe in our home. Some of the girls continued to cry, others sat in complete silence replaying the event in their heads, including me. To think that before this I was worried about something as trivial as not getting to go to a fancy college. Amanda, Jenna and Anna would never even get to go to college or do anything else ever again. They were dead. Just gone. The weight of that just pulled me farther and farther down into myself, drowning me in emptiness. I wondered if those girls had any family to mourn them. Would my aunt had been sad if I had been the one to get shot?
It turned out that one of the neighbors had heard the gunshots and called the cops. I wondered which one.
The next day we all went up to the hospital to see the two girls who had been injured in the attack. Maggie had taken a shot to her left leg, Chrissy her left shoulder. They would survive and as soon as they recovered they would be transferred to other schools. We were later told that the boy who had been taken into custody was Brent Langston, the boy who was going to capture my humiliation on film. He confessed to aiding his friend Jake Samuels in taking revenge against a student at McComb’s for getting him expelled. None of the other girls knew which one of us it was but I knew. It would take the authorities two weeks to track Jake Samuels down but to no avail, because before they could get to him he had taken his own life. He left behind a note that contained just two words: I’m sorry. I still wonder who he meant it for.
Knowing that those girls lost their lives because of me still haunts me to this day, because I take all the blame. Even though I didn’t hold the gun I put it all into motion. If I had just suffered alone no one would have had to die.
I graduated from McComb’s and went on to become a school counselor. I guess I thought I could redeem myself for all the wrong I caused. I know that none of it was my fault but that doesn’t stop the nightmares and the guilt. My work helps. As long as I’m helping students it keeps the pain at bay. I wake up every morning ready to shake off the gloom and try to set things right. I feel better for at least a little while. Maybe one day I’ll get over it. Maybe a day will go by and I won’t think about it. Until that day I will be here, hopefully preventing another wrong. Until then I will lay in bed at night and hate myself until the sun comes up and a new day begins.
The inspiration for this story came from a dream I had, a very intense dream. This is the very first short story I have ever put out there for people to read. I hope you enjoyed it.