Fog pours over the constellations. The frigid Indiana weather made the happiness dissipate. It is a day that you wake up cold, even though heat blasted and three blankets covered you.
I wake up late, beginning the offputting feeling. Steam from the shower coats the frozen mirror, making it appear like a brick of ice.
Rushed, I continue attempting to look decent for the day ahead of me. The bus arrives while yanking my shoes on. I run out into the iced, starry morning.
“Good morning,” the always friendly bus driver greets. I nod to him while putting earbuds in. A basic American artist plays trying to rid me of the eerie feeling the day brings.
I sit on the plastic, leather seat awaiting the view of the school dreadfully. The bus windows react to the cold, the same as the mirror.
I wipe away the condensation with my bare arm, making it feel numb to the touch. Through the window I see the irrelevant town.
You could drive through without ever noticing it sit lonely with small town views. The red brick school pulls into view, and an apocalyptic essence radiates off everything and everyone.
The bus stops, and I wait last to get off pleading for an escape of what is yet to come. The cold bites my unjacketed skin, as a revenge for the irresponsible choice.
All the students around me file into the building, unaware of the soon to come trauma. Every step I take feels off beat. I mope upstairs to the brutally small middle school hallway.
The smell of non deodorized twelve year olds wafts in the corridor. I walk into my first period science class. Valentine’s Day decorations hang carelessly throughout the classroom.
The retro chalkboard reads “Happy Valentine’s Day” with sloppy handwriting. I sit and wait longing for the class to begin.
Students, who don’t seem to feel the same eeriness of the day, walk into the room.
“Good morning!” The teacher, always cheery, welcomes. She is blatantly everyone’s favorite teacher, so all the usually zombie-like students smile up to her.
The class went by slowly, as if the universe was forcing you to wait for the grim surprise waiting at the end of the day.
The bell finally rang, and the same process happens six more times. As we waited for the final bell to sound, students pull out their phones.
“Have you seen the news?” Someone asked their friend. Small chatters fill the room as the supposed news travels. I assume that some rapper died, but I was sadly wrong.
“There was a shooting in Florida.” Of course another school massacre. I don’t feel anything. This is our reality… it felt normal.
An average American day involves innocent humans being shot. My phone, with no data, renders me useless. I just sit staring at numbers ticking by.
The bell rang, and I practically ran out of my chair. I messily put my earbuds in as I race down the overflowing hallway. I barely make it to the bus.
Young, innocent kids chase each other through the isle and scream.
“Carly,” my sister abruptly says. ”Did you see what happened?” I nodded, still listening to music.
“Seventeen got shot…” The number beats in my head. I count the students in the bus until I reach seventeen. They would all be dead if they were less lucky.
My eyes well up with tears, but I hold them back. My brain has ten tabs open of furious and sad feelings.
A carousel of days spin by as I never stop mourning the seventeen lives. A wave of silence, with such invasive sound echoes through the states, even the world.
The school holds an assembly in the auditorium about school shootings. Hundreds of unbothered students gladly sit down because they are missing class.
“Good morning students!” The principal says with a forced sense of happiness. “As you all by now are aware of, school shootings are a serious concern of your generation.
” Murmurs stifle through the large room. A video begins playing. It shows a simple day at a high school. Suddenly a shooter walks in and the video zooms in on one student.
The video shows how he showed signs of being a shooter. My arms prickle with goose bumps.
“Does anyone have any questions pertaining to lock down situations?” The principal asks the shocked crowd. The same old students raise their hands like always.
“What do we do if we’re in the cafeteria?” The called on student asks. My mind lost interest in what was going on. Everything sinks in.
The precious eight hours we risk our lives attending, is being wasted on this. I know there is something that must be done, but I feel lost in the sea of ideas.
“We’ve had our say with the government- and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying, “It is what it is,” but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don’t study,
you will fail.
And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something” Emma Gonzalez, a student of the Parkland shooting, inspires to many.
I hear that the students are planning something for the school walkout in commemoration to the seventeen lives lost, and what the future holds.
The day of the walkout arrives, March 14, and I’m so conflicted. The school has not made clear if you will get in trouble for leaving class.
“Hey Carly, we have class together at 10am, the time of the walkout.” My friend states, “Will you go with me?”
“Of course” I respond, knowing that there is a chance of trouble. This is more detrimental than school. School is a stepping-stone to make a difference, but why wait?
The day moves exhaustingly slow from anticipation. The hallways are filled with rumors of what is going to happen. The bell invites us to leave for third period, 10am.
I walk into the gym knowing I’m leaving for seventeen minutes.
“Those of you walking out, you should know what it’s for. You should know what you are standing up for. This is not an excuse to leave class.” The gym teacher reminds us. The times comes.
All the emotions of furiousiosity and gloom fill my whole body.
“Seventeen dead… seventeen innocent students dead.”
“23 school shootings in the first 23 weeks of the year.”
“Prepare for your classmates, friends, to die.”
“You don’t understand…. you’re too young to worry about this.”
I march out of the schools head held high. Tears burn my eyes seeing all the students standing outside in the still cold. I’m amazed, this is my generation. We will be fighters.
We will stand up. We will do what we know is right. We are unified in this moment. Thousands of other students stand outside; all throughout the country.
This is what being an American feels like.