Trigger Warning: The following submission shares the fictional story of a school shooting survivor. There is no gore or overly explicit details of the death. However, it does feature an emotional view that may be intense and upsetting.
I didn’t think I’d ever be here. If you asked me where I would be in five years, a year ago, it would not have been here. I don’t think anyone ever expects or even wants to be in a position like this. If you do, you’d have to be a real psycho. For me, I think the worst part is all the attention. I’m shy, I’ve always been shy. So for me, this is all a nightmare. Y’know I think most people in my situation would use this to their advantage. But I’d give anything to go back and time and change things.
On March 15th, 2021, a boy named James Byron Peterson, entered his high school with an assault rifle and opened fire. James Peterson killed 35 students, 5 teachers, 2 staff, and Principle Norman. He wounded another twenty. CornHusk High of Decorah, Iowa, will never be the same again. The biggest question that everybody keeps asking is: “How?’ Y’Know? ‘How did this happen?’ or ‘How could this happen?’”
I don’t really know how this happened. It’d been a year and I still have no idea what happened. I’ve been trying to remember, honestly, I am. But every time I do, it’s like there's nothing there. I just see a few flashes of moments, screaming, crying. That’s it. Sometimes it feels like nothing ever happened, sometimes, y’know, I’m fine one minute and then the next it’s on the local news again with them following his case and all. Really, really it’s just confusing.
Deacon Fisher has gone through, the imaginable. How do you get over something like this? The answer is; you just don’t. You don’t get over this. How do you even heal from something like this? Where would you even start? I pray every day, that someone finds help for that boy.
Sometimes it feels like I’m another man entirely. Like maybe He’s the Hyde, I’m the Jeckell taking over. Maybe Jeckell wasn’t the monster, maybe Hyde was the whole time. I don’t I’m not the one that should be feeling monstrous right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Just run. I already tried that, it didn’t work. He just kept coming and coming and coming, he was chasing us. I felt like a bird in a flock being hunted for sport. Like I thought maybe could remember how flocks of birds get away from hunter to help me, but then I remember that they don’t. They just die. And that’s what happened to a lot of us, we just died.
All those other kids, y’know, they just died. Dropped right behind me. I could hear it one moment, a girl, or who I assumed to be a girl, hot the floor on her way day. And she hit hard. I believe, she survived actually. She’s not here today. Not many of the survivors are actually. Maybe a handful, really. It’s not that big of a gathering anyways, a lot of people are at home right now. This crowd is nothing compared to our football games. I think a lot of people are upset by this gathering anyways. Like it’s a huge reminder of that day. It is, really, I guess. As it should be. A reminder that this happened. That people died. That kids died. I guess it would be hard to forget by now but, still there feels like there's a weird hush about it. Not that anyone is covering it up, but just that no one really talks about it. Like there's just a big understanding that we don’t discuss it. It’s too much to talk about, everybody is sensitive nowadays.
We can’t remind granny I was in a shooting, it’ll just upset her. Her poor little heart can’t take it. Right, okay, but I was in a shooting. Don’t I get to talk about it? I guess that’s what I’m here to do, really. I’m here to talk about it, everybody else is. It does feel nice, hearing people talk about it for once. I really hope that I’m able to get across what I need to.
“Uh, good afternoon, all. A year ago today, CornHusk High students experienced the unthinkable. A tragedy fell upon our town and that will not be leaving anytime soon. While the resilience of our Shuckers of CornHusk High has never been more evident, the students and staff alike, work hard to remember that fateful day. So that history does not repeat. And now, as the first anniversary of the CornHusk High shooting…” This feels wrong. This feels really, really wrong. I feel sick. I’m sweating so much, it’s so hot out. The sun is right on top of me. I felt like I was going to drop dead right then and there. “CornHusk High proudly presents its first annual Corn Shucker auction. Where in all the proceeds will be donated to the school…” I’m snapping. I’m gone. Am I Jeckell or am I Hyde now? “Um, y’know what? This is, this is really weird because- this is super weird because it is. It’s super weird to donate back to the school that let this happen anyways. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I know I shouldn’t be saying that.”
“Deacon! Deacon!” I can hear my mother scold me from the side of the stage as I talk.
“I shouldn’t be saying any of this, anyways. Because, you know, everyone’s nervse about the situation. Everyone was really, really heartbroken over everything. I don’t- I don’t even see any of the victim’s parents here. And yet, I, I one of the survivors had to stand up here and talk about it. And I know, that no one would have blamed me if I said no. I should have just said no-but-”
“Okaaay, Deacon. It’s okay if you just wanna go and get settled-” I hear Mrs. Max through her speaker as she trots up the stage stairs towards me.
“But apparently no one wants to talk about that. About the survivors. We always wanna talk about the dead. Because they're dead and what’s worse than being dead, right? I’m sure they hate it, y’know, to be dead. I feel bad for them, I really do. My heart goes out to all the family left behind, I do. Because nothing is worse than that loss. Y’know we’ve all lost someone. I mean I’ve just lost my Nan, and my dog but, we’ve all experienced grief. And I do-I do understand how staff must be feeling, it must be really scary sitting in that office all day wondering if he’s gonna walk right through that door again. Because he really busted through there, I’ll tell ya. He just busted through that door and really let loose. Through the whole school, I remember it. Just straight down that hallway all the way to the back he just, plowed through. And y’know I wasn’t the fastest. I wasn’t in sports or anything, I just ran. Nothing special, I just, ran. And I didn’t stop, y’know some kids, when we reached safety they stopped but I couldn’t. I just kept going, past the flamingo trailer park. I didn’t stop till I was one of the last ones left to run. I couldn’t. And I-I-I keep running. I’ve been running. I don’t know if any of you are still running but I feel like I am. And this was supposed to be me not running. This speech was supposed to be me talking about it for once but- no. No, I still can’t really talk about it. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” And then I just broke down. I screamed. I just screamed I couldn’t stop it. It was like letting gass free, I felt, huh, y’know, lighter. And I just couldn’t stop.
My mom had to come up and drag me off the stage. And everyone was looking at me, I think some of them were crying too. It was good. I wanted them to cry with me. I wanted us all to just cry. But y’know you can’t force people to do anything. I can’t force them to actually make a change. I can’t force them to go back and time and fix everything. All I can do is scream, because now finally I can. I can scream about it now, I’m not afraid to. People can call me crazy, insane, victim, pussy, baby, all they want. I don’t care. Because I can scream and they can’t. They can’t scream like I can scream. They can’t take that part of my grief anyway from me.