Suicide, Violence, Swearing
"It's like flying."
She said as I peered down at the two dead bodies laying on the ground below me. I was one of the four who decided to jump instead. The unlucky four who didn't escape.
Well what? You're asking me to jump off a fucking building.
"Together?" I ask
"No, you go first."
What does that mean? Is she really going to chicken out? She was the one who so readily agreed to the idea.
"You go first."
"What do you mean why?" I can feel the anger inside of me boiling up to the lid like rice does when you forget about it. She so willingly wanted to jump when I didn't; now she refuses. "You want me to jump off a building. You want me to end my own life." I can now feel tears pooling in my eyes as I realize what the last sentence meant.
“NO!” I scream. Finally losing my cool. “YOU PIECE OF SHIT! I DON’T WANT TO JUMP FIRST! FOR FUCK SAKE I DON’T WANT TO JUMP AT ALL!”
At this point, I’m sobbing. A full fit like a two-year-old. I crumble to the ground and hide my face in my hands. Gunshots ring under me in the building on which I sit. I now realize we were not the only "unlucky four" who didn’t escape. That’s why we came up here in the first place. To die peacefully. Or as peacefully as we could. I sit on the concrete bawling until my head is throbbing with pain.
I realize Kelsie, the poor girl I just screamed at doesn't feel any different than I do. My conscience punishes me by bombarding my mind with scoldings from all different corners of my head. She didn't deserve that. We're all losing our shit. Don't blame her. You're so selfish. What is wrong with you? You deserve to be laying down there with the others.
I pull myself together enough to stand up and apologize.
"I'm sorry. I truly am, you didn't deserve that," I say while wiping the tears and snot onto my navy blue sleeve. I finally turn my head up to look her in the eye, but I am met with nothing but with a blue sky filled with clouds. Kelsie's not there. Through my tantrum, I didn’t hear the clap of her body hitting the blacktop parking lot that lay three stories below me.
She was dead.
I was the only one left.
My head is spinning. My legs feel numb like they do after getting off a roller coaster. Finally, after standing in the same spot for what feels like an eternity, my mind switches to what you could call flight mode. I sprint over to the giant vent and rip the grate off. I squeeze in the best I can and replace the grate, completely unconscious of what I’m doing.
Tears are streaming down my face as I pull myself further and further back into the whirring metal box. The sound of gunshots echo in my ears. That moment from no longer than forty-five minutes ago plays on repeat in my head. Kids scurrying through the hallways with looks of terror on their faces. The moment when we all realized this was it. This was the end of our lives. Everything ended in the hallways of a shitty high school.
○ ○ ○
My eyes flutter open. I fell asleep. I take a breath, letting the cool air of a Michigan night fill my lungs. I can hear the chatter of people not far off.
I take the vent cover off and wiggle my way out, my entire body cracking as I sit up on the cold concrete. I sit there for who knows how long listening to the chattering people. They’re talking about something terrible.
“...42 were killed.”
“...4 are missing.”
“They’re all dead…”
I stand up and walk over to the edge of the roof where I can hear the people and look down. The people go quiet and look back at me. Suddenly the group breaks apart, some heading towards their red and blue flashing cars, while others rush into the school.
About thirty seconds later I hear, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump. People running up a staircase. Then the door to the roof bursts open.
“HEY! KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!” A man yells, I assume at me, however, I don’t move at all. I can't, I'm too exhausted. Three other men follow him through the door and start to surround me with their guns pointed at the ground. I look up at them and they relax, seeing I have nothing but my ripped zip-up hoodie. Two of the men put their guns in their holsters and start to move in closer.
No. No. No. No. No. NO! Unintentionally, I jump back away from the men, pulling my sweatshirt tight around my waist.
“It’s alright. We’re here to help.” says the man who first came barreling through the door. I quickly take another step back, not letting him get any closer.
“I promise you we are here to help.” says the man again. He extends his hand towards me so I can take it. I look at it and my lungs start to feel like they’re shrinking. They feel so small I can barely breathe. I sit down gasping for air when suddenly my hand is in someone else's.
“Hey, hey, hey, deep breaths. Deep breaths. Ready? Watch me.” I don’t look up, instead, I stare at a tiny piece of rock embedded in the concrete. He starts taking exaggerated breaths in through his nose and out through his mouth, just like every yoga instructor I've ever met. The sound of my heart in my ears is fading; my breathing is slowing down. All the men have left, leaving just the first man and me.
“Better?” Says the man. I nod, still refusing to look at him.
“Can I ask what your name is?” I take a deep breath and answer him, trying my best not to let my voice crack.
“Piper,” I say quietly.
“Hi Piper, I’m Ceader, how old are you?”
“What grade are you in?”
“Tenth grade, very good. Piper, are you hurt anywhere?”
“I think I hurt my ankle.” I hadn't even noticed. As we continue to talk, my confidence builds little by little.
“Are you able to walk?”
"I think so."
“Great, if you can, I would like to ask you to come down to the parking lot with me. We want to ask you some questions.”
“The police. Your school was attacked today and we’re trying to figure out why it happened.
Ask me why it happened. Jesus Christ. What the hell is wrong with these people? What happened was another high school in America got screwed over again.
“...But first, do you have a family? Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, anyone who you feel comfortable contacting?”
I wonder where mom is right now. If she would have given a shit if her only kid died. You idiot. Of course she wouldn’t have. She left me. Left me to figure out my life on my own. A fifteen-year-old to fend for herself.
“Okay then, you’re gonna stick with us until we can figure something out for you.”
“Alright.” Says Ceader, leading the way to the rooftop's door.
Instead of following, I stand in one place with my feet glued to the ground.
Why didn’t I die? Why did I survive? The person who has nothing to live for is living. So many people died. People with a life. People who had someone who cared about them. I robbed them of that. I don't deserve to live.
I burst into tears.
Ceader turns back around. I look at him and he seems to know what I'm thinking. He starts running toward me but is too slow. I reach the edge of the building and turn around. He stops and looks me dead in the eye.
"Piper. Stop. Please Piper don't do anything."
He speaks to his chest, requesting backup but it won't help him.
"Look away. Please" I ask, for his sake.
He lunges at me but it's too late. I fall back.
I always did want to fly.
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I haven't really been active on Reedsy lately, but after reading this story I felt the need to come on here and leave a comment, ESPECIALLY because you did ask for some advice on why some people might have found the story confusing. FIRST, congratz on the win. It's never easy to write something and submit it to be looked over and judged by others, so I think it's great that you were able to do so. Takes guts and the desire to want to grow. Hopefully this comment of mine contributes to that. -- Now, as FOR THE STORY. I think it's alright...
THANK YOU SO SO MUCH MOR THIS COMMENT! I am going to take all of it into account. I think I am going to go through the story again and edit it with everyone's ideas in mind then re-publish it to my profile. Comments like these really help me, and I appreciate them very much. Thank you so much for reading I hope u have a great day.
Wow This was a wild in depth view of this story in every angle. I am actually starting out trying to get recognized. Would like to ask for a favor for some advice on my work if possible to do an in depth view on some of the stories I have. Of course only if you have time. I've been writing for years but would like a different perspective to advance my skills as a writer.
Absolutely wonderful feedback! I'm lovin' it.
I thought this story was ok. It was a little hard to understand though.
This story was ok. It definitely needed another round of edits. A couple grammar mistakes, and some confusion in the middle. It could have been longer as well, so we could maybe get a better picture of the MCs motivations. Obviously pulled out a win because of the prompt, and congratulations on that, but definitely could have made this stronger. Pantsing doesn't mean not editing.
Thank you, I will definitely keep all of what you wrote in mind. The more I read through it I find myself wanting to change things. Thank you for this comment.
Thank you for taking your feedback graciously. I have no doubt you will improve on this one and use the experience on your next piece. I look forward to reading more from you.
Thank you, that means a lot.
I felt the need to comment on this piece because as someone who was personally affected by the Oxford shooting in Michigan I was very bothered by this story. I did not find it to be a "healing outlet" but an emotion grab. School shootings should absolutely be talked about and writing is a way to heal, but this greatly misrepresents reality. Children in school shootings don't leap to their death for no reason, they hide in closets and under the bodies of their classmates. A school shooting is not a joke and should not be taken lightly. Childr...
Hi Jessica, First I think you for reading the story. I now understand that it bothers people very much and I find myself agreeing with a lot of what you're saying. I do recognize that this story doesn't match reality when it comes to shootings, but I promise you I didn't mean to frame it as a joke. I do realize that shootings are not something to be taken lightly at all and I am sorry if I have expressed that throughout this piece. I am a person who came out of high school not long ago, so I do understand the weight of the current problem a...
how were you personally affected by it Jessica? like you knew a guy who knew a guy who went to the school ten years ago? And now you identify as a victim on instagram for attention? Such a slap in the face to the firsthand victims. Camphor was just trying to express his personal take on it. Not everyone has to share your viewpoint or write about an experience in *one* social justice warrior approved way...and the fact that you're too stuck up to even respond to the lad who gave you such a thoughtful response is quite disappointing.
No, my cousin attended Oxford highschool during the shooting. She lost friends and we could have lost her. The victims are real. What I said was not a slap in the face, but what you said absolutely is.
key word: "could have" My great uncle jerkins also could have potentially died in Pearl Harbor. Therefore, I am a victim of Pearl Harbor. Nice logic. You're nothing close to a victim. Stop whining.
Are you ok?
I'm hangin' in. Thanks for askin
quick announcement to everyone. thought id post on here since there's no feed on reedsy like on Facebook where you can post general musings. Hello everyone. I will be posting a new story tomorrow. Staying up all night to polish it up for you all. Please don't forget to like my current story too. It makes me sad no one has liked it. it's about a budding family at Christmas and is based on a memorable Christmas night I had as a boy and it's based on true events. there is no mention of drug use or violence like all these other vile stories. J...
Hi there, whoever has read this I thank you very much. I keep seeing comments where it was hard to understand, I am wondering where that would be exactly so I can change that in anything I might write in the future (sorry if this sounds cheesy at all) I am truly just trying to improve.
Hey for me the confusing part was the "what" is going on?. Why are the people jumping? Did they break out of prison or are they in a war zone? We can hear bullets, but who is behind the gun? For me the confusion is what keeps me going! I need to know! Your ability to transplant the feeling of your main character (confusion terror) into your reader is a talent! But with the brevity of the writing it can leave a reader wanting. So you are turning this obstacle into an opportunity and expanding the writing. I'm proud of you. I enjoyed reading i...
Excellent! This to me is the perfect short story; it is not a neat, beginning-middle-end, predictable piece of writing. It stimulates. It provokes the reader to question, to try to find a personal reference to make sense of it. It's not supposed to be a cosy, easy read. It captures an atmosphere, a moment. I was there on that ledge! I saw and heard the police! Well done!
Thank you so much, I'm happy you liked it :)
Clapping on response.
Hi Camphor, this story was dramatic which I love. I understand how people can see this as confusing, however, you did follow the prompt so I know where you are coming from. Either way, as this is your 1st story, it's not bad. I hope you can write more stories in the future. Peace out!
Haha thanks so much for reading it!
This is the best story I've ever read omg. I feel like crying now. One year ago, after Oxford (I live in Michigan), my school had a lockdown that wasn't a drill. There had been threats on our school on that same day this happened and it was right after Oxford. That was the scriest moment of my life becaue little seventh grade me was imagining there was a school shooter in the building, because, well, this was not a drill. I was crying and we all were in the corner hiding for about ten minutes and we all knew nothing. In our minds, it was rea...
Thank you so much for reading it, I'm happy you enjoyed it. I'm sorry for what you had to go through. Society is fucked up to the max and although I am grateful I cannot relate to your situation, I am sorry. Thank you so much for reading it. I really appreciate it. I wish u well in whatever you are doing :)
I usually spread read through stories, to get the gist and more on. I read quickly at first but then I sat down and read it. You did this story very well for the prompt. Based on the prompt, it’s perfect. Very riveting. I really liked it. Well done.
Thank you :) I'm glad you liked it
Good one. Well done! I admit that I was wondering through the piece, but in a good way because it added to the suspense - what were they running from? (The gunshots made me think zombies) What is the MC's age and gender? (I assumed male until 'Piper') But you know, the gender doesn't really matter. It could be M or F or even left neutral by giving her a gender-neutral name. You could establish the age early on during the paragraph where the MC's berating herself by adding something like, "She's just 15, same as you.") It pulls the reader out...
I like the points you bring up in this comment, especially the idea of formally introducing the character's gender. I never thought of doing it! I'm really happy you noticed that. I have been waiting for someone to point out the first and last line. I was starting to wonder if it was noticeable. I thank you for reading it, and for your feedback. I really really appreciate it :)
This was such a good story! You brought everything together and made it a total winner. NICE JOB!! You are an inspiration to our younger writing generation, like me!
Yay! Thank you so much for reading it, I'm happy you liked it :) I hope someday I can read something by you.
they should have lived tbh but this is still an amazing story
Holy. Honk. I’ve never felt this emotionally immersed into a story like this before. This is truly amazing, dispite the sad ending.
It's okay but you should read it mine it's really good
Gosh, Camphor. This was amazing! Amazing but heartwrenching, especially that last line. Keep writing!
Wow! This is beautiful, even though the ending is a kinda heartbreaking. I love this story to the moon and back. Well done, Camphor White. Your storytelling skill is awesome.
I agree- it's so creative and you have just enough action to make it exciting without over doing it. congrats on the win!
Thank you so much :)
Fast paced exciting writing. The second paragraph was truly confusing..was that a grammar error or intentional? and then the story gets moving, fast, and I thought this was a Squid Game situation for a while, until it shifts into being someone in a school shooting. Good job of following the write by the seat of your pants idea (i'm trying to comment by the seat of my pants) and making the story grow into something bigger. Then when Piper was rescued it shifts into something far more emotional and revealing. I thought this was a powerful para...
Hi, thank you so much for reading this. You said in the second paragraph it was confusing, where exactly did you mean? My goal is to improve my writing skills and that starts here. So as much feedback as you could give me would be great. Thank you so much.😄
“She said as I peered down at the two dead bodies laying on the ground below me. I was one of the four who decided to jump instead. The unlucky four who didn't escape.” ‘Instead’ after the first sentence would mean you are doing the opposite of those ppl jumping. And the past tense thing when the mc is alive and in action talking and not reminscing. Outside of that, creating tension and being in motion without explaining everything is fine imho. How much internal thinking you choose to write depends on where you sit on the literary fiction s...
Thank you for clarifying. I will fix that when I go through it again😃 I shall always keep what you have said in mind when writing in the future. It's a good piece of advice to hold onto so thank you.
This is such a good story! It really opens your eyes and shows you what kids have to go through, and that sometimes we're scared to go to school because of this.
Wow, this is an amazing story. I really REALLY love the ending on how it says, “I always did want to fly.” I didn’t see that coming. If you would take the time to read my story and give me feedback, I would love that. Thank you :)