Everyone was folded up under desks and tables. Everything should’ve been quiet. I wish it was quiet. Everytime the silence was disturbed with shrieks and gunshots, a shiver was sent down my spine. Everywhere, I saw faces with terror being displayed. Every minute, I wished that the clock would stop moving, that time would stop.
But the clock hands kept moving.
I sat under a sink with my head against one of the pipes and a stack of textbooks digging into my back. I wondered where Riley was. She was supposed to be in History. “She always goes to the bathroom during History,” I thought to myself “I was supposed to meet her at 2:30, what time is it now?” I looked at my phone. 2:32. My thoughts raced. “She’s in the bathroom, I have to go get her.” I contorted myself out from under the sink and crawled over to the door. It was locked.
“Emma, what in God’s name do you think you’re doing?” Ms. David looked at me, terrified.
“I have to go get Riley, she’s in the bathroom all alone!”
Ms. David’s eyes widened.
“I’m sorry, Emma. But I am not allowed to open that door until we get the ‘all clear.’ You have to wait.”
My head started to spin. I crawled back under the desk. I pulled in my knees and started to cry. I’m not even religious, but I prayed to God. Riley had to be ok. She could be all alone, terrified and in huge danger. I looked down at my phone, we’d been on lockdown for 20 minutes, but it felt so much longer then that. I had 15 unread messages.
I’m stuck in the bathroom
I’m so scared right now.
There’s no one else in here.
Emma, we’ve had so many great memories together.
I remember that one time when we broke a window in my house with a remote.
Remember that one time when we had a boba fight in the middle of a 7-11 parking lot?
Remember when we played Monopoly for 5 hours straight over the summer?
Remember when we had a six night sleepover? We never got sick of eachother.
Wow, I’m acting like I’m like gonna die for sure. It’s not for sure I’m gonna die, just a higher possibility then normal.
Em, I don’t know if either of us are going to make it out alive from this but you have to know, you’re the reason I come to school every morning. You know how my life was before I met you. I had no direction, no friends. You have to tell Ms. David that she was my favorite teacher. You have to tell Caleb that I liked him this whole time even though I said I didn’t. You have to tell my mom that even though her best wasn’t very good, it was good enough for me.
Maybe you’re laughing reading this because I know you. You’re so weird and you laugh at the weirdest things. Maybe we’ll laugh about this someday.
I also know that you’ll feel bad for not coming to meet me in the bathroom. If anything happens to me, it’s not your fault.
You can marry Shawn Mendes, by the way. I don’t want him anymore.
Forever and always, Em. I love you so much.
All, from Riley. My heart sunk. Tears careened down my face.
I turned off my phone. Caleb looked at me from under a desk. He saw my distress.
“What’s wrong, Emma?”
“It’s Riley, she’s stuck in the bathroom, all alone.”
“How do you know?”
“She told me.” I said abruptly.
His face went pale.
“Emma! Caleb! Shut up! You’re going to get us all killed,”someone hissed.
“Sorry, Cat.” I said quietly. My tears didn’t stop.
I brought my head into my hands. We were supposed to be spending high school meeting new people and learning things that I will probably never use in life. We’re not at school to get traumatized.
Time inched by so slowly. Every second that passed, I got more anxious. I heard sirens from far off.
“Finally, what’s taking them so long?” a shaky voice said.
“I guess this is what we get for going to a high school in the middle of nowhere,” someone else said.
“A high school in the middle of nowhere, why would anyone want to target us?” the conversation continued.
I started to hum Riley’s favorite songs. I rocked back and forth along to the beat. The tears continued and so did the humming. I began to hum through Riley’s “car playlist”. The playlist that didn’t have any explicits because her mother always drove us everywhere.
The announcement light turned on. “We are all clear, the threat has been removed and the ambulances are here,” rang throughout the school. “Teachers may unlock their doors, please keep all students inside of your classrooms until further notice. Also, please take attendance and report missing students, immediately.” I pull my head up from my knees. I look around the classroom. I saw eyes that glimmered with relief. Others were pink from crying. “Guys we just survived a shooting,” someone said. I survived the shooting, but it wouldn’t matter unless Riley did too.
I looked at Caleb. Our eyes locked. He crawled out from a desk and quickly helped me up. My vision tunneled. Dizziness made me stumble across the classroom. I shoved the door open, Caleb trailing.
“Emma! Caleb! You can’t go!” came from inside the classroom. Too bad. I sprinted past lockers and classrooms. I stopped in the threshold of the bathroom. Caleb ran into my back. My breath was heavy. I prepared for myself for what I may see. I turned my head and looked Caleb straight in the eye.
“You ready?” he asked me.
“No, but let’s go.”
I took a deep breath as we took a step into the bathroom. I melted to the floor.
The clock hands finally seemed to stop.