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I’ll never forget what it’s like to have a gun pointed at me, not after that day. My friend, Ash, and I were walking down the hallway to forth period. We were taking our time, despite the fact we were the only ones in the hall. We were helping our chemistry teacher clean up in the lab and received passes so we wouldn’t be marked late to our next period, which was pre-calculus. Ash stopped suddenly, and her lips pressed closed in a tight line. I followed her gaze, and my whole body went rigid. It was Mr. Wilson, dressed in a business suit, holding a handheld pistol aimed at us. His mouth was opened wide as he panted heavily; sweat sliding from his forehead to the bottom of his cheek to his jaw. Mr. Wilson was disheveled, looking like he had just run a marathon. The suit he was wearing was wrinkled and loose on him like it was a size too big, with half of the suit not being able to rest on his shoulder and slid off to the side.
Neither Ash nor I dared to make a move. Mr. Wilson had been released from school last year from a breakdown after he apparently physically assaulted a student: Ash’s brother, Mark. Mark was in the hospital for a few weeks having a few cracked ribs and a sprained arm. There were rumors that Mr. Wilson was sent to an asylum, but none of the staff or administrator confirmed the stories. We continued to just stand there, feeling like deer caught in headlights. Different thoughts invaded my mind; how did Mr. Wilson get into the school, how did he get a gun, was it real, is he crazy, what did he plan to do?
Staring at our old history teacher, I noticed his eyes were glazed our, dark bags underneath that showed his exhaustion. His choppy brown hair was drooped over his eyes, making him all the more intimidating.
“Miss Antonio,” Mr. Wilson’s young, but hoarse voice spoke out, his green eyes locked onto Ash. I felt her hand reach mine as our fingers intertwined. She squeezed my hand, and I could tell she was frightened. Ash came to me several times last year spooked at the end of the day, going on how she felt Mr. Wilson was always treating her nicely, too nicely. Ash even thought he was flirting with her at points, he would put his hand on her shoulder, or try to tease her about something, or even try to ask her to stay behind after class. I remember feeling upset when she told me about this, but Ash made me promise not to tell. He intimidated her, and she didn’t know what to think if someone found out what was going on, or even what would happen if she found out she was just imagining it.
I caught the involuntary flinch Mr. Wilson had as he saw us holding hands. His eyes threw daggers at me, and I could see the deadly intent he held. Looking towards Ash again, Mr. Wilson kept his hand steady on the gun as he spoke up again.
“Take off your clothes.” He directed; this time I squeezed Ash’s hand in both worry and reassurance. I watched as Mr. Wilson slowly lifted his thumb and cocked his pistol, before placing his other hand over his left to keep it steady. I wanted to tell Ash not to panic, but I could feel her shaking beside me, as was I. How were we going to get out of this alive?
I was tempted to glance behind me to Ash, see how she was doing. But, I couldn’t bring myself to look away from Mr. Wilson. Noticing our irresponsive behaviors his face twisted in rage as he barked.
“I said; take off your clothes! Now! Ash!” His words dripped with venom, and I could feel my blood boil as he addressed her like a close friend. Instincts kicked in and I felt myself step in front on Ash, never letting go of her as I remained with a tense body, narrowed eyes piercing dead on at Mr. Wilson. I have to protect her. Is was I thought to myself. I can’t let her die.
Behind me Ash muttered my name, unsure of what she could say at the moment. I felt her free hand grab a hold of the hem of the back of my shirt, almost afraid what would happen to me if she let go. I tried to stay calm, tried my best not to panic. I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t just let Ash listen to him. He’s a psycho, what would he do after, what if he tried to rape her? I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if that happened.
Mr. Wilson’s aim started to shake, and I felt a glimmer of hope rise in my chest. Maybe we would survive after all.
It was strange, Ash and I weren’t close. Yes, we were friends and we hung out, and yes, she only told me about Mr. Wilson, but that was because I was being so nice to her since I really liked her. Ash wasn’t even that pretty either, but for whatever reason, it happened. I gave her hand another squeeze to her hand as I tried my best to stand my ground.
“Get over here Ash.” Mr. Wilson was starting to sound desperate. His voice wavered and grew raspy, and he even began to look jittery as he started lightly bouncing on the balls of his feet. I stared in mild shock, never having seen any adult act this way, at least, not unless they were on TV. Suddenly I could feel Ash backing up and I tried to step back with her, but Mr. Wilson saw what we were doing and fired a round at the tiled floor in front of our feet, missing by only a few inches.
Then Ash and I were on the ground, toppling after we were caught off guard by the gunshot. At the sound of footsteps I looked up to see Mr. Wilson walking over. My eyes widened as his hysteric expression, the corners of his mouth pulled high up in an outrageous smile with huge eyes staring sinisterly at Ash and I. His hand jerked wildly with the gun, but he showed no concern. I only thought then: He’s truly insane.
His fingers continued to loosen on the pistol and then, as if fate itself had intervened, it dropped out of his hand. Mr. Wilson’s expression didn’t change; he didn’t even twitch when I reached for the fallen firearm in panic, or when I got up on one knee and shakily pointed the snout at him, or when I pulled the trigger…
I didn’t see him fall to the ground; I don’t even know if I really did what I thought I had done. Then suddenly a huge weight just launched itself at my body, knocking me back to the ground in an embrace. I felt soft lips pressed firmly against my cheek as my face burned in embarrassment. Ash’s voice of gratitude was almost incoherent through her sobs as tears willing streamed down her face. I was just glad she was safe, though as she hugged me I temporarily forgot what it was I had saved her from.
Seven years later, we’re still together. And tonight was the night; everything was planned and set in motion. I couldn’t wait for that moment where we walk to her favorite park with the bent cherry tree and I would tell her that Mark was officially coming home and she would no longer worry how he was doing in Iraq. I would tell Ash how happy I was for her to be in my life, as a friend and girlfriend. And then after I would go on how I still wanted more, get on my knees and hold out a small plastic ring I bought, remembering Ash telling me her perfect proposal six months prior and say to her how I couldn’t believe she loved me even after I took someone’s life, and that I wanted to make up for it by living every new day to the fullest, with her by my side as my wife. And then Ash would look at me, a smile would brighten her already joyous face as she stands in surprise before jumping on me. We would then fall to the ground and she would look me in the eyes. Then I would say, breathless.
“Déjà vu.” And our lips would meet with her answer.