Sharing is Caring…and Terrifying

It’s a strange battle writers face when it comes to sharing their work. What a writer often wants more than anything is to publish and share their hard work with others. Yet at the same time there is a fear inside at the thought of putting yourself out there. Suddenly all the work you’ve done alone, the midnight brainstorming sessions, or the notebooks of top secret novel ideas are ready in one piece to be shown to others. It isn’t your secret anymore. It’s no longer for your eyes only. And you worry what people will think, how it will be received, and if your hard work even means anything to someone other than you. Sharing that part of yourself is both a dream and a nightmare. You feel excitement and dread. But at the end of the day, you can’t feel either, good or bad, if you don’t try. So here’s my first venture into sharing a piece of original work. It’s a short story called Intentional Fate. If you have any reaction, whether it be praise, scrutiny, or advice, I encourage you to post a comment. Feedback is how writers learn and improve. And thank you for taking the time to read. Here goes.

Intentional Fate

You’re soaking in sweat. Your heart is pounding in your chest so fast it hurts. Your eyes begin to water so badly that tears escape, and you realize it’s because you haven’t blinked in minutes.

You stare.

You stare ahead.

Away.

At nothing at all.

Especially not at the mess beside you.

The few people left in the cafeteria with you are staring back. At you. But you don’t look at them. You don’t acknoweldge their horrified faces or meet anyone’s fearful eyes. Doing that would only confirm the grotesque scene you know is resting beside you. And you can’t allow that knnowledge to seep in.

Suddenly you register the warmth on your face and the slow trail it burns into your skin as the liquid slides down your cheek.

Adam’s blood.

Adam’s blood is on your face.

And you can’t wipe it away.

Even if you were able to make your frozen limbs work again, wiping that warmth away would be like wiping him away. And if the blood is still warm then his body is too.

His body.

Did you really just think that?

Is Adam really gone?

You can’t make yourself look down at the floor to check. The hysterical crying you hear all around you seems to be answer enough.

Adam is gone.

And now people are looking to you for answers. People are staring like you hold the magic key to this puzzle. But you’re only fifteen. What answers could you possibly have? They should know that this isn’t much of a puzzle to solve anyway. Not when you know exactly what kind of life Adam had.

Had.

Adam is gone.

You finally look away at the barricaded doors. Everyone thinks this is something bigger that it is. They think they could be next. That you might be hiding a gun under your windbreaker too. They think you might be the one to take them out. That you’re part of some violent plan that will erupt onto national news and cause yearly memorials for all the people you’re about to punish. You were Adam’s best friend after all. Surely his best friend was in on it? Surely his best friend knew what Adam was going to do during lunch today. And they stare at you. Like you might pull the trigger next.

But you didn’t know. You weren’t in on anything.

You had no idea.

You’ve never even seen a real gun. And even when Adam took the one out from the inside of his jacket, you had barely registered what it was before Adam pulled the trigger.

Then it was too late.

And now that’s all you hear. You tune out the pandemonium of your classmates. You ignore Principal Byrnes who is trying to ask you important questions you don’t have the answers to. All you hear is the memory. The moment from ten minutes ago. And it loops through your head. Over and over on agonizing repeat.

The rustling of Adam’s jacket as he dug around inside it.

The click of metal as he cocked the hammer.

And Adam’s voice. Meek and hopeless.

“I’m sorry, Scottie,” he’d said.

Then the shot sounded.

BOOM!

And Adam fell from his seat. Right after his blood sprayed onto your face.

The screams rang out. Your classmates ran around in panic, squealing like banshees, afraid for their lives.

But Adam only wanted to take one life.

His own.

And that’s what you hear now.

“I’m sorry, Scottie.”

BOOM.

Screams.

“I’m sorry, Scottie.”

BOOM.

Screams.

“I’m sorry, Scottie.”

“I’m sorry, Scottie.”

Why didn”t you know? How could you not know it was coming?

How could he leave you?

Principal Byrnes taps the side of your face with his palm. It feels like he’s swatting at a fly. You refuse to meet his dark eyes. Refuse to leave the comfort of your head. If you acknowledge Byrnes you have to face the truth. You have to snap back to the cold reality beside you. And he still wants answers. Answers you can’t give.

You hear him though. But he’s not talking to you anymore.

“Cover the boy, for God’s sake,” he says.  And you see someone hurrying out of your vision to follow his orders. “Harris, search this one. Make sure he’s clean.”

Now you feel hands on you. They’re patting your body much harder than Byrnes tapped your cheek. Up and down they go. Your chest, your abdomen, you legs and ankles. All of it gets smacked and stroked as the vice principal attempts to find some hidden weapon.

But you don’t have a waeapon.

You don’t have an explanation.

You don’t have a best friend.

“I’m sorry, Scottie.”

BOOM.

Screams.

The person reenters your vision. They throw a blanket over the mass on the floor.

The body of Adam.

You slowly look down. Blood soaks through the fabric. It runs from beneath the blanket’s edges.

“Get these kids out of here,” Byrnes says. “Tell the police the threat is over. We need medics.”

He stoops down at your feet.

“Take this straight to the police chief,” he says, and you look up enough to realize he’s holding Adam’s gun. Folded in a napkin like a poorly wrapped present. Vice Principal Harris takes it and hurries from the cafeteria.

You sit quietly as your hear the buzz of your classmates’ fear grow faint. The crying recedes, the terrified screaming disappears, the shuffling of feet escapes through the doors.

And the doors close behind them.

You are alone.

You are alone with Principal Byrnes and the body of your best friend.

Something cold touches your face. It makes you flinch.

Principal Byrnes is wiping at your cheek with a wet towel.

He’s wiping away Adam’s blood.

“Scott,” he says. “Scott, look at me.”

You struggle to move your eyes. You struggle to calm you body, but it won’t stop shaking. You manage to meet his gaze.

“Why would Adam do this?” he asks you. “Why would Adam take his life like this? Did he plan to shoot up the school? Did you know what he was doing?”

You don’t answer. Suddenly you’re angry. Angry he doesn’t know. Angry he couldn’t see how sad Adam was. How hard he struggled to be happy.

Then you hate yourself too.

You should have seen this. You should have known your best friend well enough to see the signs. His mother left him…his father blamed him…his schoolmates tormented him for no other reason than because they could. Adam was an easy target for everybody. He finally gave them what they wanted.

He targeted himself.

Why did you ever think he wouldn’t want out?

Why didn’t you help him?

“I’m sorry,” you whisper.

Why didn’t Adam tell you how bad things were?

Adam is gone.

Why didn’t you save him?

Adam is gone.

“I’m sorry too, Adam,” you repeat, and this time the tears flow heavily.

“I’m sorry, Scottie.”

BOOM.

Screams.

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