Active Shooter

Guest Contributor

A message you never expect to receive, “Active Shooter. Shelter in Place.”  Your heart sinks, and the only thing that comes to mind is to run. Immediately you find a hiding spot and begin to text everyone three words that can either fill a heart with joy or fear in a matter of seconds, “I love you.”

Sitting in silence with a room full of strangers, while your heart is beating out of your chest, you search for anything that can be used as a weapon if need be. Chills rush down your body as you hear the sirens rolling in. Text after text tells you to stay in place, while you’re texting all of your friends to make sure they are safe and getting texts from people you haven’t talked to in years.  Who knew one event could bring everyone together so quickly.

As the news begins to come across everyone’s screen that he has been caught, you begin to talk with the strangers who you are hiding with. Those strangers now know more about you than almost anyone else. While you are talking to help them stay calm, you are also trying to help yourself from breaking down. Everyone is still on their phones refreshing Twitter and Google just waiting for updates.

Those three hours felt like five minutes and five years at the same time. You finally get the message “All Clear,” and you return to your dorm not knowing what to do next. You know to tell people you love them, hug your loved ones, and live every day like it’s your last. Life is short, you never know when it’s gonna end, so live life to the fullest and for the ones who sacrificed their lives for you.

From kindergarten to senior year of high school, we grew up practicing lockdown and intruder drills. Schools try their best to prepare you for “if it happens,” but nothing can ever prepare you for “when it happens.”  Nothing can help you understand why it happens, or what could’ve happened if…

The never-ending questions and thoughts running through your mind all seem to start with “What if?”  The struggle comes over you of not being able to process what has happened, not being able to find a way to cope with what’s going on in your head.  Everyone tells you to go talk to someone, but the last thing you want to do is explain your feelings to a complete stranger or break down in front of your friends. You try your hardest to put on a smile and be there for the ones who may need a shoulder to cry on.

A whole community is now coming together; everyone tells you, “We will get through this,” and you’re hoping that the day will come, but you don’t know when.  People from all over are messaging you to check in, but you just wish it would all stop.

You wish you could go back in time before it all happened so that life could just be normal again. But you can’t. The best thing for you to do is to keep your head up, take on the challenges, and hope that at some point you will get through this.

Nicole SuttonAuthor Nicole Sutton is a first-year Liberal Studies/Elementary Education major. She wrote this reflection in ENG 110 Effective Writing.