My chest felt tight and constricted as if there was a large object on top of me, reminding me of the struggle to breathe after you'd just the wind knocked out of you. Only this time, the air never came back, didn't give me relief and take away the ache in my chest. I didn't want to be here. I don't think anyone wanted to be here right now. It was all wrong. It was... wrong. So wrong.
I stood at the back of the room, not yet ready to walk forward. My eyes fell on the coffin, goosebumps rising on the surface of my skin with the knowledge that my mother laid inside. It didn't seem real at first. But now it seemed too real. I just needed a few more days. A few more days of hiding in my room, with my music drowning out anything and everything, a few more days of laying in bed as I had my own pity party and I would be fine.
But I had no choice. It was finally here and there was no avoiding it.
It was time.
My feet felt heavy as I walked to the front of the room, moving myself so that I stood behind the podium. My height of 5'2 made me seem even smaller as I moved the microphone so it was just under my mouth. I breathed in, inhaling slowly and deeply but regretting it immediately as it echoed through out the room. My eyes shifted from face to face, the sorrow in their expression, the black attire that seemed to make this situation all the more dreary. My hands were slowly and steady, fighting the urge to shake as I unfolded the piece of paper from the pocket of my jacket. The sound of paper moving against itself, made me want to cringe but I didn't. I stood up straight and cleared my throat as I began to read.
"They say that twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the things you did do. I guess that's made my father pluck up the courage to ask out my mother. I'd heard the story of how my parents met countless times as a child but it never seemed to get old. It was my favorite fairytale. My mother and my father were seniors when they met. She was a bookworm and he was a jock... a bad one but whatever..." There were a few chuckles at lighthearted joke.
"They ran in different crowds but somehow they'd found their way to each other at their high school prom. Both of them had different dates... man this is just not doing them very much justice is it?"
"It didn't seem to stop them from spending most of the night together. I can remember seeing a picture of them from that night. Mom in her perfect, elegant dress and Dad in his tuxedo, they looked like the perfect couple. But with bigger hair. It was the nineties after all. It was November of 1995, that my noticed that something was off. This is where I come in. Yep, my father knocked up my mother. Congrats, Dad."
Flat out laughter this time.
But it didn't make this a happy occasion.
"My mother was the oldest of six children, I like to think that's what made her such an amazing mother. What made her so easy to talk to. She had this way of making everything seem better when everything really seemed to be falling apart. That was what I loved most about her. She was optimistic, always. Even if those around her didn't exactly see the situation as she did... She used to tell me that everything would be better in the morning if I seemed to be stressing about something. Today when I woke up... she wasn't there. I prayed that it had all been a bad dream but it wasn't. We're here to remember my mother, for the amazing women she was. Like most of you, I will never forget her, I will miss her everyday... but I know that she is looking over all of us and will always do so. I love you mom and you will always- you will always be in my heart."
I couldn't do it anymore. I'd skipped the second half of my speech, eager to get away and not have to think anymore. Not have to think about the fact that my mother was gone or how we'd come to be in this situation... about just how bad this world sucked.
My life wouldn't be the same. My mother had been ripped away from me in the most brutal way and all I could focus on was the image of her body hitting the ground, laying lifelessly on the cold tiled floor.
For those of you that are wondering, my name is Rae Lucille Parker. I'm fifteen, just barely into with my freshmen year of high school, and one of the survivors of the Ellington High School Massacre. The news channels had labeled it was one of the worst shootings New York had ever seen. Thirty three students and two teachers dead, another fifteen wounded. But these were just numbers. No one had any idea that all of them had a family, friends, a life not ready to be ended. They didn't have a fucking clue.
My life used to be normal. I used to happy. My life used to be great. I had parents that had a great marriage and good friends. My life was just how I wanted it. I wouldn't have changed it for the world. But everyone knows that nothing ever stays simple for too long. On September 19th, 2011, one of my classmates brought a gun to school. He shot at me and my friends, our teachers. A place that had once felt so safe to us was now filled with screams, the walls and the floors covered with blood. I remember running to find my mother since she was a teacher. It was like my feet had grown wings, I had never run as fast as I had that day. I ran into the admin office and found her under the front desk. We both ran out into the hall and that's when things got bad. That's where he was. That's when he shot me. That's when he killed my mother. I woke up in hospital and I had never been more angrier in my life. Why? Because I was alive. And my mother and friends weren't.
I didn't want to believe it at first. It couldn't be possible. But as I lay there in that hospital bed, my pain medication slowly wearing off, I knew there was no denying it. It seemed like something out a Lifetime movie. A crazed, mentally ill student walking through the doors of his high school while silently preparing himself for a day no one would soon forget.
He had accomplished that. The police said they'd found dozens of notebooks in his room describing every detail of his plan. He wrote about the type of guns he would use, who he would target, but there was one thing he never wrote about.
There wasn't single word written about why he had done it. There were no claims of bullying, no signs of abusive behavior from his parents... A seemingly normal student had just decided to kill it seems. To take out whatever evil he had inside of him on the innocent people of their school.
I remember standing in front of him, the blank look in his eyes as he clutched the gun in his hand. There was no emotion on his face. No pain or remorse or sadness. Just blank eyes looking straight ahead as he watched my mother and I turn to run away.
My mother had fallen to the floor, blood leaking out of her head and I dropped down beside her, pleading and crying.
"Please, oh god, please... mama, please! Please don't leave me!"
I shook her over and over before I'd heard the bang again.
And then everything had gone dark.
Now here I am, sitting on a cold sidewalk with my shoes beside me, my head in my hands. I just wanted it to be over. I wish it had never happened. It wasn't fucking fair. This wasn't supposed to happen. I was supposed to be at home with her parents, telling them of her day at school, talking about how Kelsey Lancaster had gotten into a fight with Stacy McMahon. But she was at her mothers funeral. Life had a funny way of just going the complete opposite way that you wanted it to.
Life fucking sucked.