Heather Wolford attends Romney Middle School 6th grade.
Fear. It struck me like the point of a double edge blade. I stood there trembling in utter shock, as my fellow classmates fell to their knees at my feet. Though I could not comprehend the tragedy before me, my first instinct was to run. However, it seemed as though my limbs were not communicating with my brain. As though my mind had shut down.
My ears rang with the sound of a loud pop. Followed by excruciating screams that haunt me everyday. I thought of my mom and my dad. Wondering if I’d ever see them again. Wondering if the man with the gun was going to take my life. I remembered the cool summer days, when we swam in the creek, and ate peanut butter sandwiches on the bank. Would I ever feel that happy again? Or was it just a distant memory?
One thing, one thing I will always remember, is standing there, watching my lab partner, Marcus, bleed out on the cold hallway floor. Not even 15 minutes before, we had been arguing over something on our project. I had said mean things, things I will regret the rest of my life. As I watched him lie there in unbelievable pain, I managed to whisper these words through my sobs: I’m sorry. Those were the last words he heard before he was gone.
I recall feeling both hot and cold at the same time. I was sweating madly, yet my skin was like Braille from goose bumps. My stomach lurched with every pop. I could feel my eyes darting left and right, then left again. At that point, I thought what any young child would think. Is this my fault? Did I cause this tragic event to occur?
Of course, the answer was no, but I didn’t know that then, and it terrified me. As I stood there weeping in absolute disbelief and despair, I came to grasp the world’s one true enemy. Reality. We make ourselves believe that things like this don’t exist. That people couldn’t possibly be capable of causing so much devastation. By doing this, we are only making things worse. And when reality comes knocking at the door, you won’t be prepared for what’s coming.
The memories of this gruesome experience are burned in the back of my mind. I will never forget the heart-rending images I saw that day. Nor will I forget the feelings of helplessness, despair, and fear. It has taken me years to process the entirety of my dilemma. I still do not fully understand why people do the things they do, and I probably never will. All I can say, is that I am finally at peace. But I will always remember those final 7 seconds.