Voices roar through the high school cafeteria while
students navigate their way to the tables. The cliques are
easily spotted: the jocks, the geeks, the beauty queens,
the slackers . . .
Where will he sit today?
Despite the fact he's a handsome and impeccably dressed
young man, he fades into the background. Knowing it's
pointless, the girls don't bother to look his way, and the
guys deliberately avoid his eyes.
He grips his tray tightly and heads toward the corner
table with the rest of the outcasts. They nod hello, but
that's the end of any real attempt at conversation. It's an
unspoken rule of sorts. This is their refuge—a tiny
bit of sanctuary in the hell that is public high
school—and they're content to sit in peace.
He takes a seat, and I can see the exhaustion on his
face. It's not a weariness that comes from too many
sleepless nights. This is a bone–tired fatigue no
seventeen–year–old kid should ever feel.
He's giving in.
In my peripheral vision, I see a senior stalk into the
cafeteria. He's tall, with deep brown eyes and
jet–black hair that won't stay in place. He's good
looking, popular, and a little conceited, thanks to his
father's wealth and status.
He has a reputation to uphold.
Rumors to squash.
A score to settle.
He pulls the silver gun out of his jacket pocket. Amid
the chaos, no one notices.
I try to run, but I'm frozen in place.
I try to scream, but there's no sound.
The first shot rings out, and suddenly, everyone's on
the cold tile.
Tears, prayers, screams.
Another shot, and for some reason, I'm the only one who
can't move. Who can't scream. Who can't do anything but
watch as the young man's body slumps over his tray.
Finally, I find my voice and scream his name.