Teenagers

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Zac Haywood is a normal boy. He likes Science and Movies and cares for his mother. That is, until he shoots up his school.

I stare vacantly at their dead faces; a sea of tragedy in a hallway full of opportunity. I did this. It was never my plan, really. I thought about it. Oh man, did I think about it, but I never thought I would actually do it.

Summer Riley is face down near her locker. Her usual sleek hair is pouring wildly over the flooring and her skirt is hitched up indecently. I go to her, just to pull her skirt down. The least she should have is some dignity in all of this.

I thought I would feel some sort of relief when it was all over. I thought Mason Green's dead face would bring me elation. I thought I'd laugh at how pitiful he looked, and rejoice that he could never open his stupid mouth again. His mouth, as it happens, does look pitiful, but not in the same way I expected. His eyes are still open, and they glare at me accusingly. You did this.

My name is Zac Haywood. I like video games and science, and staying up late to watch movies. Those details will get lost in the news report, I know. They'll forget that I was a normal boy, that I had dreams and interests. I always liked the idea of being a scientist, to eradicate cancer and degenerative diseases. That would feel amazing.

My mother suffers with a degenerative disease of her own. She's had it pretty much all of my life, but she only gets worse as I get older. It's heartbreaking, really. She can't cope without me, and that thought scares me now, as I face the consequences. I've not only sentenced myself to a lifetime of misery, I've sentenced my mother too. I'm sorry, mom.

My father died when I was seven. He had an undiagnosed heart condition and one day after a run, he just collapsed. He was gone, just like that. I guess good health was never going to be passed down genetically.

The kids at school never bothered to get to know me. They're too interested in who they're taking to the school dance — surprisingly it's never been me — or who's got the best designer clothes. I can't afford any of that stuff. Not the clothes, not the extra-curricular's, not even a damned school lunch. I spend my days eating tuna sandwiches from a brown bag on my own.

Do you know how it feels, to sit eating alone? A pitiful sandwich in your hand, while a group of teenagers laugh and joke and act like you're not even there? Sometimes I go eat in the bathroom, just to be away from the circus that is the lunch hall. It's all the more pitiful but at least nobody can see me. At least Mason Green doesn't knock into me on purpose and cause me to drop the only sustenance I've brought to eat all day. He laughed in my face and stomped on the sandwich. I'd only taken a bite.

"Sorry Gay-wood," he yelled between laughs. That's a favourite of theirs — the Gaywood thing. Original, right? Mason's definitely not laughing now. He's eerily still. They all are. I don't know what Summer ever saw in Mason, but they were the typical high school sweethearts in my school. Dating since they were 15, making everybody sick with their PDA in the hallway. At least I never have to see that again.

I used to really like Summer. She was kind, more so than the others, and she actually had brains. She told me once that she'd like to be a veterinarian, but I never heard her tell the others that. She was the catalyst that started all this. She told me she liked me. She told me that she was sorry for the way they'd all treated me. I thought she was genuine. I told her about my mother, for Christ sake! She knew how hard I had it at home and at school and she still chose to humiliate me. You deserve this! I scream out in my head. Her lifeless body stares back at me.

I still remember how amazing she looked when she stripped down into her underwear. I thought this was finally it, I was going to become a man. Of course, it was another cruel joke. It ended with me being tied to a street light butt naked for all the world to see. They took pictures, they stuck them up on lockers. As if that night hadn't been humiliating enough, now everybody in the school had seen me naked, including the teachers who did their best to rip them down.

I couldn't tell my mom what happened, I couldn't tell anybody. I sat in my room and cried, and punched walls, and tried to immerse myself in my sci-fi movies, but nothing felt the same anymore. I hated them. I hated them all.

I hear sirens, wailing in the distance. Remember, my name is Zac Haywood, and aside from this one day, I was a normal boy who liked science and movies. Please don't let them forget that.

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