I did not go to Columbine High School. I did not know any of the victims personally.
I did go to high school in the same school district. In 9th grade English class, we finished watching Romeo+Juliet and my teacher turned on the news. I sat at my desk and watched the coverage without understanding what was truly going on. I assumed we were watching something happening in Wisconsin or somewhere else--somewhere bad things happened.
Then I started to recognize the location. Someone said "Columbine" and my heart stopped.
One month prior to the shootings, I had visited Columbine for a band competition. I was there. I knew the library. But I wasn't there. I was safe.
Today, I am 15 again. I am stunned in English class. My after-school activities are cancelled. I am waiting in the band room for my mom to come pick me up, watching tv--still. I am standing in the band room in my ugly brown coat watching Patrick Ireland fall out of a window, blood from his wounds smearing the concrete wall. I am sitting outside my school staring at the mountains but seeing Patrick Ireland in my head. I am lying on my couch listening to the radio and not knowing what I'm supposed to do, feel, think.
School is cancelled the rest of the week. I waft around my house. I still don't know what I'm supposed to do, feel, think. The news is full of sorrow.
On Monday we go back to school. I go to Earth Science. My teacher, with tears in her eyes, asks us how we feel and wants us to talk about it. I have nothing to say.
The next year we went back for the band competition. The library was boarded up, a row of lockers across where the door used to be. Memorial tiles lined the hallways--the only sign of what had happened.