I leaned against my car, watching the students filter into the building. It was a cloudy Thursday morning, 7:36 AM. I waited until I heard the first bell before making my way towards the doors.
I stared at my reflection in the dirty bathroom mirror as the speakers crackled to life. “All students please report to the gymnasium, please, thank you.” I stood motionless, listening to the voices grow closer and louder outside, the sound of dozens of footsteps passing by the bathroom. Bodies upon bodies poured through the double doors down the hall. Some chatted about the math test they were getting out of. Others rubbed the remaining sleep out of their eyes. When I could no longer hear the sounds of feet shuffling outside the bathroom door, I decided I should get in there before someone caught me hiding.
I pushed open the big wooden door and started down the hallway, which felt much longer than usual today. I stood outside the gym doors and pressed myself against them, listening.
On the inside, the superintendent gave the kids the annual lecture on effort. Kids on the inside text, fight to stay awake, and whisper to each other. I press my back against the door, not wanting to go inside. Somewhere inside me, I finally fish out the courage to open up the doors.
When the doors open, almost the entire student body’s attention turns to me, but the superintendent continues on with his speech. When I don’t find a seat, his eyes wander in my direction.
“Miss Carson, find a seat, please.” He said, and continued on. My feet were glued to the floor. Anyone that wasn’t paying attention to me before definitely was now. I scanned over the 500-or-so students, and my blood ran cold. Adrenaline pumped through me as a million thoughts raced through my brain. I started to shake. “Miss Carson.” The voice snapped me back. All attention was on me. Eyes burned holes into my skin. A hand - the principal’s hand - landed on my shoulder and guided me to an empty seat on the first row, closest to the door. I didn’t have to look up. I could feel students snickering at me. Whispering about me.
The superintendent continued on, wrapping up his speech. The whispers and giggles died down, and the focus was back on him.
‘Blew it again.’ I thought to myself. The bell rang, dismissing the students to their second class of the day. As more students pushed past me to pack through the doors, my hand grazed over the gun inside my coat.
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