The Coldest Morning of October

5 min
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It was the coldest morning of October and the walk from my brother’s car to the school doors almost gave me frostbite. For the first time ever, I was happy to be in school. The heating here was much better than at my house. But I’d rather be in the coldest room in the world than go to my first-period English class with Mrs.Cresely. She was an elderly lady with greyish, white hair always tied in a low bun. Mrs.Cresely always wore long, floral dresses that just touched her ankles and kitten heels that made a click whenever she walked. If you even took one step out of line in her class, you were promptly scolded and sent to the principals. At first glance, Jackie and I look completely different. She has caramel skin and dirt colored eyes. Long, pin-straight brown hair that brushes over perfectly highlighted, clear skin. Today she walks in with her favorite denim skirt, a band tee, and converse. As for me, I have scarlet hair that’s always in a side-braid and the biggest hazel eyes you’ll ever see. My pale face is drowning in hundreds of freckles. I sit at my desk in a yellow tank top and flared jeans. But despite our differing outer appearances, I probably know Jackie more than I know myself and Jackie knows what I’m going to say before I even say it. We don’t dare talk in Mrs.Cresely’s class, so we make hand signals and facial expressions from across the room. Today is no exception. While Mrs. Cresley drones on and on about William Shakespeare, me and Jackie make signals and gestures from our desks.
“Maggie, please stop with the commotion,” Mrs.Cresely snaps.
“Sorry,” I say as I quickly put my hands down. Jackie laughs at me from across the room. Of course, Mrs. Cresely only saw me making conversation in code. Well, it could’ve been worse. I’ll just have to be more discrete next time. Mrs.Cresely begins her next lecture about some other old author. I try and distract myself by studying every poster in the room. It’s hard to distract yourself from something boring by reading posters that are equally as boring. So, I study the clock. I was mid daze when a frightened voice came over the loudspeaker.
“Lockdown, just please hurry, go into lockdown,” the voice screamed. Mrs.Cresely rushed us to the corner of the room and fiddled with the door lock. My brain went into shock. We had never heard something like that scream on the loudspeaker before. All lockdown drill announcements were made in a calm voice. Clearly, this was not a drill. I thought maybe they were just testing us. I denied all possibilities of this being real. This had to be an extreme test, a precaution. But the gunshot I heard coming from a distant hallway proved me wrong. Instantly, my heart began to pound. I had underestimated the severity of this. This was no longer a drill or a practice round. This was real life and this would probably be on the news tonight. Jackie held her hands to her face.
“My little sister, she’s not gonna know what to do if I don’t come home.”
“I didn’t even think about that,” I replied solemnly. My shoulders sank into my chest. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My inability to take another breath suffocated my panic. Leaning against the file cabinet next to the door and wondering if I would come home tonight got old really fast. The racing heartbeat that sounded in my ear didn’t stop and I couldn’t bear to look at Jackie. I’ve never seen her cry or even be that upset. She was always making witty jokes and sarcastic comments. It pained me to see her so worried.
I couldn’t tell if we’ve been hiding from the intruder for five minutes or two hours. I felt like nothing was in my control, I was helpless. The heavy footsteps got closer and closer. The particles of sweat on my palms multiplied. For the first time in a while, I started praying. Shaking hands grabbed mine, our class was brought together by a terrible threat. I would never plan on joining hands with this group of people, but we had no choice now. Tears threatened each of our eyes and an intruder with a gun threatened our lives.
The footsteps got so close I could feel them underneath me. Right now, I would do anything to listen to Mrs.Cresely bore me with Shakespeare. I wouldn’t even mind being yelled at or having to wait until lunch to talk to Jackie. I could wait an hour to talk to Jackie, but now I might wait a lifetime. Lost in my worried thoughts, my heart came to a complete stop when the door opened. I guess Mrs.Cresely didn’t fiddle with the door lock correctly. The class silently shrieked when the shooter walked in. No one dared to let out a sound, but on the inside, we were all exploding with fear. I sat closest to the door, so when the door snapped open I was hidden behind it. Instead of having to face the shooter, I sat in the safe pocket of space behind the door. The smartest thing to do was stay put, don’t let the shooter know you’re there. So I planted my body into the floor and tried to be as silent as possible. Yet when I looked to the left I saw Jackie’s eyes flooded with tears and when I looked ahead of me I saw a group of kids terrified of the gun pointed at them. I couldn’t sit back and let everyone else face the possibility of death. A voice in my head called me to stand up and fight for my fellow classmates, but my legs refused to move. My eyes began to roll to the back of my head, I felt like I was passing out or going into shock. If you would’ve told me this morning, while I was walking through the bitter autumn air just an hour ago, that I would be in the same room as someone with an intention to kill I would've never believed you. I could barely believe it was happening now, I felt numb and unable to move. But something inside of me would not let me sit back. I pondered everything I could and couldn’t do, yet the answer remained unclear. My mind was confused, my body wasn’t. I sprung up from my compact position and grabbed a chair as quietly as possible. Before I could even process what I had done, the chair was in my hands and my legs were standing strong. The swift intruder whipped their head around in a split second, their cold eyes meeting mine. Time moved slower than it ever had before. I studied them trying to figure out what awful intentions they had and if they would act on them. I tried to find anything that would identify them as a girl or a boy, something I could tell the police. But all I could see were cold green eyes staring me down. They raised their gun, I swung the chair. Somehow my shaking hands knew what to do before I did. Hurdling their body to the ground, The metal legs of the chair crashed into their skull. Making the loudest thud I’ve ever heard, the gun fell straight down with the intruder. I ended what felt like an eternity of terror, with a quick blow to the head. I threw the chair at them a second time, making sure they would be knocked out for a while. No one could believe their eyes, including me. Mrs.Cresely lept for the phone, my classmates stood up. A sea of hugs and thank yous greeted me. I was especially ecstatic to see Jackie’s smile back. Her head on my shoulders and my brother on the phone made everything feel safe again. My heart began to slow down, but I still felt on edge. We were ushered out of the classroom and into the auditorium. We waited there until our parents were outside the school to pick us up. Some kids would wait in that auditorium all day, I was lucky that my brother could give me and Jackie a ride. My nerves didn’t seem to settle and it seemed impossible to have to face school again. But somehow, seeing Jackie’s relieved face and my brother’s arms hugging me as tight as they ever had made everything seem like it would soon be okay.

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