Day One examines the horror of mass-shootings and the origins of that violence. Reader discretion advised.
Day One By Gabriel Ricard
Authors Note: The following piece is a work of fiction. The author does not condone this sort of thing in real life.
I'm not one of those people, who always wish to be seven years old again. Why bother? For one thing, it's totally redundant to wish for something that's already passed you by, with no chance of returning. I've never resembled those kinds of people but still, I'd like to be totally ignorant of the future like most children are. As a kid, I was never a smart enough to figure out early that my classmates and teachers were all manipulative, unrelenting monsters. I just skipped along in rain boots, shrugging off a bad day with the knowledge that tomorrow would definitely be a lot better. That sort of ignorance would be really nice to have at this point. When you realize there's no way in hell that things are going to improve. You start counting down the days until it, and I'm referring to school, will be over. Even though there's still several hundred of the bastards to go.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Mom tells me I do that all the time. Make up my mind before anything's even happened. After all, it's only the first day, and school hasn't even started yet. Still have another three hours, since I made it a point to get up at four in the morning. I haven't been sleeping very well over the last week anyway. Nervous I guess. Ninth grade doesn't actually sound that important until it's staring you in the face. Schoolwork has no part in the worrying. It's just thrown in front of me. I do it only to avoid the stamp saying I'm one of those kids that puts their head down and goes to sleep. What bothers me, is that I won't be able to handle the other students. I'm almost a hundred percent sure. Only fifteen and I'm completely destroyed. A hefty database of past indiscretions convinces me there's truth in my assumption. I have compiled such a list, as a matter of fact, but it's only in my head.
While I couldn't hope to give a description about the rock cycle, I could easily list off every single time someone threw food at me in the cafeteria. Or, when a complete stranger would approach me in the hallway to ask if I was gay. I remember the time someone stole my notebook when I went to the bathroom. Whoever did it, they were kind enough to rip it to pieces and put it back in my locker. A personal favorite was the long-standing agreement between everyone not to use the same urinal as me. It's all in there, molded into one fresh memory.
Of course, Mom tells me I focus too much on that stuff. So does the shrink she made me visit twice in July. It took me about a half-hour to figure out their opinions were exactly the same and that I was wasting my time trying this. Actually, that's not entirely true. This guy did tell me something new. He said I brought a lot of these things on myself. I should become more self-aware of the way I act and the words coming out of my mouth.
I tried making a comment about this to Mom. She waved me off, remarking that I was still being too dismissive. Muttering "It's rude to laugh at other people's suggestions." Since I actually agree with this, I tried my best not to laugh at her moment of hypocrisy.
I didn't expect this therapy thing to change the quality of life. Mom's vague attempts at parenting are so infrequent and dull.
All the crap with that shrink did make me wish I actually had a friend. I've heard before that you should consider yourself lucky if you make even a few really good friends. Well, I'd like to make one. Nothing too selfish right? Just one. That doesn't exactly live in the realm of possibility, so no heavy worries about it.
When I was really little, and rather stupid, I thought that maybe everything was related to where I live. Like California just happened to have more than the average number of jerks and I'd be happy if I moved somewhere else. I used to bring up living somewhere else to Mom. Surprise, surprise, it didn't get me anywhere. My little theory changed with vacation I took with my Mom to see her sister in Oregon. Big, ignorant, ugly people are going to be prevalent no matter what town you're in. Deciding I was the one who had to change, a great idea came to me. While not terribly original, it's definitely worth pursuing with the right know-how.
I had no idea California is such a hot bed for school shootings. The last decade alone, there have been four major incidents. Only eight people have been killed total but dozens were wounded. I've been researching the topic and Santana is the personal favorite, the easiest to gather information on. I figure if you want to go about an act as complicated as this, you need to know what's what.
I was pretty set on doing the so called "unthinkable." I mean, anyone would in my position. I tried to tough it out. Tried to laugh when snowballs bearing sharp chunks of gravel were hurled in my direction. I tried not caring when I found my gym clothes spread out in the teachers' parking lot, each article of clothing placed on a single car. And believe me when I say that I tried shrugging off the notes that were occasionally passed to me in the fifth and sixth grade. Clever little slabs of paper that summed up my entire being in one insulting sentence. Or better yet, a drawing meant to show how ugly I was. In some artwork they paired me up with another school outcast. Those kids never last. They either move away, or manage to find themselves forgotten. In the end, it doesn't do anything.. The more I think about anything, the more it occurs to me that I'm going to fail at it.
But I am a slave to habit. I drink tea every morning and stir it for exactly thirty seconds. Sleeping on my right side is a necessity for a good night's rest. And I constantly feel like trying again with a continuous problem. Hence the frequent attempts at getting through to Mom.
So, due to stubbornness, I'm not going to give up just yet. There's going to be one last shot at fitting in. I'll even go all out, make the strongest effort I ever have. First thing, I'm going to dress with strict adherence to whatever's popular. Guy's fashion doesn't change too much around here, so I went ahead and bought some clothes.
Second, I'm going to make serious changes in the way I talk. I've often been accused of "talking too smart." To change that, I'll talk exactly like everyone else. Pick up on the latest slang words, use an accent that matches someone who apparently believes they're from the dirtiest ghettos in the country. It's not that hard really. I watch a lot of movies so I have a pretty decent grasp of pretending.
I'll ask out the first girl I talk to as well. Get all those idiots to start whispering through the hallways about me. I almost did this last year but the reasons were completely different. Carley Feathers, the girl in question, is my hopeful. It makes sense to try for someone you actually like. As I said though, first girl I strike up a conversation with. I would like it to be her.
The last thing I'll do is take up smoking. I've noticed that the kids at my school are always bumming cigarettes off each other. Everyone goes to a place outside the building where it's safe to smoke during lunch. All I have to do is make it known I'm a smoke and they'll walk up to me, and start talking.
I can't really say if all of this will work for me. I'm hardly an optimist, especially where I'm personally concerned. I'll give it my best shot and go from there.
In a small way, I don't want to succeed. I'd rather make a little history, causing the first massacre in the history of my school. That would really make a lasting impression. It probably works a hell of a lot faster than what I'm attempting instead. I'm nowhere near being scared to kill either. I just I recognize how big a step that is. There's no way you can go back after you start.
So today, it's the first real day of the rest of my life. Here goes nothing and all the like.
Just in case though, I already borrowed a couple shotguns from my grandfather's house during the latest weekend visit.
I don't know anything at all about guns. The only aspect didn't undertaken research for. I just have to pull those weapons out of their hiding place and look at them to know they're absolutely perfect.
If I don't change my life for the better, they will.
If you enjoyed this piece of short fiction, please check out Gabriel's debut novel, Bondage Night. It's an uncompromising and unflinching look at two mismatched lovers, sparing readers the tired tropes of the romance genre - a book that dares tell the whole sordid truth of what's beyond happily ever after.