By Ashley K.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is based on a true story, in loving memory of the nineteen students killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting on May 24, 2022. This story is especially dedicated to eleven year old survivor, Miah Cerrillo in which this story is based off of.
Lisa woke up like it was any other day, eyelids heavy as leather. Birthdays sparked no joy for her anymore. Perhaps she’d just grown out of the puffy pink birthday dresses and sloppy one dollar cake candles. Lisa lingered on her bed for a moment, staring at the tiny polyester cracks on her newly painted walls. The air smelled gray and dull. She reached for her phone on the bedside table and yanked the charger out.
All Lisa saw was a “Happy Birthday Munchkin!” with a red heart emoji from her grandma. Her grandma recently grew an unhealthy obsession for emojis and she claimed herself to be a “youngsta”. The rest of Lisa’s home page read, “No Older Notifications”. With a defeated sigh, she slumped out of bed, joints creaking from the odd sleeping position last night, and slowly ambled into her bathroom.
The house was silent, meaning her parents had already left for work. Lisa had no siblings, no pets, only two pessimistic doctors for parents. When Lisa reached the dimly lit bathroom, she halted in front of the mirror, horrified. She looked like she came out of one of those cliché zombie apocalypse movies. Her dirty blonde hair was horribly matted and she had eye bags the darkest shade of gray, it was nearly black. Rubbing her sore eyes, Lisa half-heartedly brushed her teeth and splashed her face with ice cold water. She thought the water would help, but it just made her mood ten times worse. With water slowly dripping into her eyes, she snatched a towel and vigorously patted herself dry.
“Please let this be an interesting birthday,” she muttered underneath her breath.
Lisa wandered back to her room, shut the door, and stuck her mangly, rusted earphones into her ears. Dousing herself in loud music, she violently brushed through her hair with her nasty four year old hairbrush. Even though Lisa was the furthest from being a morning person, she enjoyed getting ready for school. It gave her a sense of order and sanity. Something Lisa desperately needed to survive the obnoxiously stupid people at school. Today was the last day of school before winter break. Lisa already dreaded the long day ahead of her. She swung her closet door open and stared blankly at the huge heap of clothes in the middle of her closet.
“Well good morning to you too,” Lisa gritted through her teeth.
She rapidly dug through the giant pile like a dog digging for its bone. Lisa hastily pulled on a pair of black unwashed jeans and a warm burgundy sweater. Losing track of time, she glanced at her watch and winced.
“Really Lisa? Even on the last day of school?” she groaned.
Lisa fumbled on a pair of sneakers, grabbed a few cold Eggo waffles, and finally ran out the door.
Racing against the clock, Lisa hopped onto her bike and peddled her legs so fast she thought they were going to fly off. Lisa squinted as the chilly wind blew her hair straight into her face, blocking her vision. Cutting the last corner into the parking lot, she frantically pulled the brakes, bounced off her bicycle and sprinted to her first period class, chemistry. She crossed her fingers and prayed that she wasn’t going to be late. Bursting into the door, a sea of eyes turned to look at Lisa. A bead of sweat slid down Lisa’s forehead as she closed the door behind her. Mr. Warner crossed his arms and leaned against the board. Lisa nervously peeked at her watch and a wave of relief washed through her.
Before her teacher had a chance to say anything Lisa interjected, “I’m technically not late, I still have two minutes until the bell rings.”
Mr. Warner slapped a big smile onto his face and clapped, “The birthday girl finally decided to show up.”
He gleefully approached Lisa with a sticker in his hand. She didn’t even have to know what it said, she knew already. Lisa rolled her eyes in defeat and stepped forward. He happily stuck it onto her shirt. It read, “Birthday Girl!” in a glittery pink font with a big bow next to it. Mr. Warner was famous for keeping a massive stack of birthday stickers for all of his students. He gave Lisa a big warm smile and gestured towards the rest of the class.
His smile quickly dropped into a condescending look, “Now go take a seat.”
On that note, Lisa embarrassingly scurried over to the back of the class and slumped down into a free seat. At that point, she did not even care who she was sitting next to. Lisa wasn’t a loner, but she also wasn’t popular. She had a tight group of close friends, just the way she liked it.
Mr. Warner’s voice quickly pulled Lisa back to reality, “All right everyone, wake up and grab your textbooks. We will be reading a short passage.”
A few lethargic groans scattered across the room, one of them including Lisa. As the students were grabbing their books and notebooks, the classroom door suddenly swung open and a woman walked through. She looked to be about thirty years old, had long chocolate locks, and wore a blue blouse with painfully skinny jeans. Her skin was pale-white, like snow. But it wasn’t fair like Snow White. A greenish tint washed over her skin and her eyebrows were furrowed. The click clacks of her high heels pierced through the loud silence. Mr. Warner held a hand up to the students and approached the woman.
“Do you need something?” Mr. Warner questioned.
She stared at Mr. Warner and held her gaze for a few seconds. It was so unbearably quiet Lisa could hear the heavy breaths of her classmates as they stood there, uneasy. A chilling feeling of apprehensiveness crawled down Lisa’s back as they waited in anguish. It took Lisa a few moments to fully grasp the situation, but she was too late. The woman slowly brought up a gun to Mr. Warner’s chest and smiled brightly.
A brash gunshot pierced through the air, and all hell went loose. Mr. Warner’s body fell to the floor as a pool of deep burgundy blood seeped out from underneath him. A few students shrieked. A few ducked down. Everything moved so fast. Blurs of people running around and fleeing the room clouded her mind. The woman turned towards the rest of the students and ruthlessly fired. Bullet after bullet, student after student.
A bullet grazed Lisa’s arm and she was shot to the ground. Completely frozen from shock, Lisa could barely breathe. The person next to her fell limp and his body crashed onto the ground. Lisa stifled a scream as rose colored blood splattered onto the nearest wall. She watched in utter horror as blood began to sputter from out of his mouth. The horror was never ending. Lisa clamped her eyes shut and covered her ears.
After what seemed like hours, Lisa realized the woman had left their classroom. Screams of people resonated throughout the halls. She was shooting other classes. Not being far from her cellphone, Lisa frantically searched through her backpack and pulled out her phone. She dialed 911 with shaky hands and waited nervously until someone picked up.
“911 what’s your emergency?”
“T-There was a shooter in my class. Um, I don’t know who’s alive but my teacher is down and I’m scared half to death,” Lisa barely spit out.
“Where are you at?”
Trembling, she spoke, “Rosebridge Highschool, it’s a few miles from Quarry Park.”
“Ok sweetie, don’t panic, I’ve got the ambulance and fire department coming. Can you stay on this line with me?”
“Yes…” Lisa trailed off.
Lisa narrowed her eyes and concentrated on the vague sound outside. A tear streaked down her face as the obnoxious clicks and clacks of high heels grew louder. The woman was coming back.
“Sweetie, are you still there?”
“The shooter is coming back, she’s coming back,” Lisa’s lips quivered.
Lisa mustered the very last of her sanity and quickly pressed the “End call” button. Working like a cat, Lisa quickly slid her phone under her desk. She had to fake her death to survive. Fake it ‘till you make it, Lisa thought. She held her breath as she scooped up a handful of her classmate’s blood off the floor and smeared it all over her shirt. After soaking and drowning herself in her classmate’s blood, she quickly dropped down onto the ground and silently repented all of the sins she committed. The clicks and clacks of the woman’s high heels entered the classroom, slow and steady. Lisa’s mind went through a million emotions all at once and her heart desperately wanted to leap out of her chest.
A menacing and ornery voice taunted, “Well well well, what have we got here?”
A hideous laugh echoed through the room as the woman moved closer.
“Birthday girl is it?”
Lisa’s heart dropped down to her stomach. The woman gave Lisa a good nudge with her foot and Lisa flinched. Oh hell. Lisa cursed herself silently.
“Birthday girl, you can stop with the act. Although I appreciate it, I have other things to attend to, and I can’t spend all day here.”
Lisa kept herself strong and did not move a single muscle. The woman sighed and her footsteps receded. After a few seconds, Lisa finally opened her eyes. But to her horror, the woman was still in front of her.
The woman laughed and pointed the gun at Lisa, “Happy death day.”
A piercing shriek reverberated through the school grounds as the woman fired the gunshot. I guess we can say Lisa got an interesting birthday after all. Right?
About the Author
Ashley K is a young writer born in San Jose, California. When she is not writing, she is either listening to music, reading, or playing with her dog.