What Fireworks Means to a School Shooting Survivor
I despise fireworks. I think that some of them are so pretty, but the sound triggers me. Every time a firework goes off, I can feel it in my chest. The breath gets knocked out of me, and I freeze. At that moment, I am transported back to School. I am back in the classroom with my teachers and fellow student.
At that second, I can see the fear in my teacher’s eyes as he looks down the hallway at the commotion. “Run,” He says with complete fear in his eyes. The look in his eyes will forever be etched into my brain. Confused, I run down the hallway and watch as a freshman falls and slides into a locker. I can’t bring myself to stop and check on her, and I’m pretty sure that makes me a bad person. I’m doing what my teacher said. I am running, from what I don’t know.
As I Get Outside
As I get outside, I stop running. I just assume that it was a fire and that I am safe outside. The fire can’t get me here. “Someone brought a gun to school.” A stranger says behind me. At that point, I can’t think. I take off sprinting. I almost get hit by a car, it was literally centimeters away from hitting me. I can hear the teacher yelling at the students to get into a classroom in the tech building because it’s safe. I sprint into the building.
I almost enter the first room as soon as you walk in the door, but I decide that that classroom would be the first to get shot if the shooter comes up here. I run a few classrooms away, and set against the wall, and wait for any information. Students and teachers start piling in. I look around and realize I can’t trust anyone. At this point, no one knows who the shooter is. Finally, the teachers shut and lock the door.
Calling my Brother
The first person I can get a hold of is my brother. He tells me that there’s been a shooting at the school and that someone has died. My heart sinks, and all I can think about are my friends. Fear courses through my veins as I struggle to get a hold of them. Luckily, they’re all okay. I go on Twitter, and desperately try to find some information. Someone sitting close to me tells me who the shooter is. I am completely shocked and In denial. I’ve known this kid since seventh grade, there’s no way he did this. I was wrong. He did do it.
We are sitting and waiting to be told what to do next when a student starts banging on the door. He was banging on the door so hard, and asking to be let it. Fear overcomes my body. I remember begging God that they wouldn’t open that door. Luckily, they didn’t. We sat there until like 9:30, and then we are told we must get on a bus.
They let us out of the room, but we all must go in a single file line. Teachers and Swat line the walls and make a pathway to the buses. The look in the eyes of the swat member will be in my head forever. We get on the bus, and we sit there forever. I remember looking out the window of the bus and seeing a news helicopter flying over us. I just remember being angry that they were already swarming. I mean, people just died to show some respect. It was insensitive.
At around Eleven, they gave us a police escort to the nearest middle school. We took the back roads there. They piled us all into the gym and waited for our names to be called so we could leave with our parents. I remember getting home at noon, and my family had the news on. I hear them reporting things that didn’t happen, so I just go to my room. I couldn’t sleep that night, my adrenaline was pumping. My friends can’t sleep either. We all stay up and talk.
Going Back to School
I was battling anorexia at the time so I didn’t eat anyways, but at this time I go the longest I ever have without eating. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was terrified. Going back to school, was horrible. We went back on a Friday. We all met in the gym for a moment of silence, prayer, and to hear about all the resources we had available. The school was never the same. We jumped at every dropped book, we were constantly looking over our shoulder. We were all wary of strangers. We enjoyed the service dogs that came to the school, that was the best part. We played card games to pass the time.
I always told myself that If something like that happened to me I would never go back to school, and I finished my year out there and then became homeschooled. I couldn’t bring myself to sit down in that school and worry about who was walking through the door. I couldn’t sit there and continue to jump at every dropped book. I’ve only been to the school twice since then, and I still struggle with going there.
I keep in contact with the teachers I was in the classroom with that day. You will hardly ever catch me in sandals in public because they aren’t good running shoes. Every year, I plug in my headphone and blare my music so I don’t hear the fireworks. I can hear gunshots, and I can shoot guns (I’m a pretty good shot), but there’s something about fireworks that I can’t handle. I just wish people would be more considerate of people like me every year.
This is my journey of faith, adoption, cooking, and living life to the fullest. It also documents our journey with our son who was diagnosed with Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. Welcome to my corner of the world.
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