The Girl In The Shadows

I am sixteen and my friends are very few. They are chosen with care. It isn’t that I’m stuck-up or conceited; it’s more like people are okay in small doses. I don’t like people. People hurt each other. They make demands. Love is conditional based on what they can get out of a relationship.

People ask questions. They want all of the details of your life. I am not willing to share. My thoughts and feelings belong to me. They are my possessions.

My grades in school are great; I’m an honor roll student, although I often forget to turn my assignments in on time and end up with a reduced grade as a consequence.

My family thinks they know me but they don’t. Nobody gets past my wall. They see what I let them see. My wall is my defense. I will decide if and when to let someone through, and it will be on my terms. I will never be hurt again.

People see me the way they want to. I let them see what they want to. When I’m home, I hide in my room to play the violin, or draw, or paint, or study about cats, or read a book. Those are my escapes from the dull gray that surrounds me. Books take me to other worlds where people strive to survive, not just to hurt each other.

That was me before the EVENT.

It was a typical day at school. Third period calculus was my favorite class. It was a challenge, forcing me to push myself, to think harder. Shelly had the highest grade in the class. I came in second and was determined to beat her grade.

Suddenly there were gunshots in the room next to calculus. Half of us in my class dropped our pencils just from shock. No one expected it. We heard screaming and desks scraping. Someone was yelling. I got to the door before my teacher told everyone to stay calm and in their seats. Mrs. Gillespie got to the door just as I was opening it. She pushed it hard and told me to get back to my seat.

Reaching into her pocket for some kind of two-way radio she spoke into it and was talking to someone in the office.

“Get security here right away. Shots fired in room 323, Mr. Hannum’s class.” Then she told me to get back to my seat and I reluctantly obeyed. Something was pulling me toward that door, but I had no choice. I went back to my seat, third one in the first row next to the door.

There was still yelling in Mrs. Gillespie’s room, but as more shots were fired we heard that door slam shut. The door to our class was yanked open by a really good-looking boy about my age. He was wielding a gun, waving it around. He seemed nervous, almost hysterical, like maybe he was on some kind of drug.

But I saw something in his eyes. Pain. I felt it as if it was my own. I stood up. He looked at me and his hand held the gun steady. His stare bored into my eyes. I couldn’t have looked away if I’d wanted to.

“I see you,” I said. “I hear your pain. I feel your pain.” I kept my voice calm, reassuring. I don’t know where the words came from, somewhere deep inside of me, I guess.

“Right.” He mocked me. “You don’t know anything. You’re that geek girl that thinks she’s better than everybody else.”

“No, you misunderstand me,” I said. “I’m like you. No one knows the real me. They only know what I let them see. I don’t let anyone in, just like you don’t, because we don’t want to be hurt. But you are hurting.”

“Yeah, so what?”

“This doesn’t take the hurt away, just like me cutting myself doesn’t ease the pain. It just puts it on the surface where I can watch the bleeding.”

I don’t think he noticed that he had started to lower the gun. I had his attention now. This time he really looked at me, not through me.

“You don’t know me,” he said, his voice a low groan. “I’m evil and unlovable, whereas you are beautiful and everyone likes you.”

I almost laughed, but I caught myself. I knew he would take it as me laughing at him. “No, they like what I show them. But they are all just acquaintances; not friends. Like you, I have no real friends, not even my family. I’m weird; but I’m okay with that. It feels kind of nice to be different from everyone else.”

He approached my desk. The door opened and police walked in. They were going to grab him and put him in handcuffs. “Don’t,” I screamed.

The police hesitated while I looked at the boy. “My name is Trisha,” I told him. “I want to be your friend.  Come and take my hand.”

Amazingly, the police didn’t touch him until after I pressed a piece of paper into his hand. On it I had written John 3:17 which reads, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

They handcuffed him, read the charges against him, and took him away. He had wounded several kids in the next room but no one got killed.

Maybe a part of me got killed—the part that wanted to stay closed off from people.