The first snow sprinkled down from the heavens,
Reminding each of us of the season upon us.
It was a Wednesday,
The day before Thanksgiving;
Just a half day of school and we were all off to enjoy the much anticipated long weekend.
I remember the day so vividly,
As though it had unfolded yesterday.
I remember the excited buzz of the hallway,
All the voices of my peers comparing plans,
Wishing there was a fast forward button on the day,
Anything so we could get out of school faster.
I was a freshman,
And my first hour class was gym (which I hated),
But I had been looking forward to this day all week because a half day meant no getting in the pool,
All we had to do was sit and watch a movie for twenty five minutes and my hair could actually stay in tact for all my classes.
I walked into the pool house,
The smell of the chlorine was always a little overwhelming first thing in the morning,
But today I didn’t mind.
It was a half day after all, and those were always the best days.
We sat in little clusters of our friends,
Our teacher, Mr. Renn, rolled a heavy old television out onto the tiles around the pool.
I remember the tile being cold, but for once dry because no one had swam that day.
I remember staring at the blue water in the pool,
It was ironically calm,
Peaceful and undisturbed.
Mr. Renn put in an old VHS tape about water safety.
It was corny, and filmed in the late eighties, and the class buzzed quietly with chatter since none of us were even slightly interested.
Mr. Renn didn’t mind, he seemed just as anxious to have the day be over with as the rest of us.
But towards the end of the video, the phone rang.
Mr. Renn walked across the room quietly,
And answered whoever was on the other line.
I noticed his frame stiffened,
His muscles tightened and his bald head shone with small beads of sweat.
When he turned around, his face was pale.
The bell rang a few minutes later, but Mr. Renn firmly instructed us to remain seated.
We all kind of looked at each other,
Each of us thinking the same thing,
What the heck is going on???
We became nervous and impatient,
Talking amongst ourselves quietly,
And even jokingly begging Mr. Renn to let us get in the pool to pass the time,
Although he didn’t even consider it before saying no.
Another twenty five minutes passed,
Another bell sounded,
The hollow dings echoing across the pool house.
We were all speculating on what was going on,
But for those of us who did have cellphones,
None of us had signal in the pool house.
With each segment of time that passed,
We were reminded of the classes that we were not going to,
And we became increasingly anxious.
No one would tell us anything,
Or answer any of our questions.
We were all so clueless,
We had no idea the chaos that was ensuing,
We had no idea the blood being mopped off of the floors,
The tears being shed,
The scars that would remain forever on the hearts and bodies of innocent children.
The lives that would never be the same.
A boy named James Lewerke,
A freshman just like me,
One who had walked the halls with us,
Whose locker was just a few corners from mine,
Had gone into his first hour classroom with a machete and tree saw,
And viciously attacked his classmates.
He was a quiet boy,
A new kid.
He was lonely and confused I’m sure,
All the new kids are.
Heck, I was new,
And I was lonely,
But I could never in a million years even begin to justify what kind of sick.
Demented, evil person could attack another innocent human being like that.
These weren’t a bunch of kids that were beating him and bullying him,
These were innocent kids who were just trying to find their way in the world.
They came to school excited for the day to be over,
They sat down in Mrs. Dobis’s first hour class to watch a movie.
They had no way of knowing what would happen when the lights went out,
No way of knowing how real a nightmare can become,
When you are sharing a classroom with a monster,
And you don’t even know it.
He didn’t have the mark of Satan tattooed on his forehead,
He didn’t write threatening letters to his classmates,
There was no warning for us,
He was just another quiet kid who kept to himself,
But inside he was brooding with hatred and confusion and anger,
Inside something had snapped,
And resulted in more damage than he could ever know.
The last bell rang,
And we were free to go.
We were instructed to go straight to our lockers,
And go home and have a great weekend,
And as we flooded from our classes,
It hit us all like a ton if bricks as we met with all if our friends,
We saw the hallow expressions,
The fear and smudged mascara.
I went to my locker,
and heard the sobbing and the shock in people’s voices.
And I looked around me at a student body very different from the one it was at the start of the day.
Just a few short hours before, there was excitement and anticipation,
We were all just a bunch of kids.
Now we were seeing our lives through different eyes.
This was our school,
These were our hallways,
And we all felt violated,
We had all been raped of our innocence.
The security that we felt,
And it was NEVER coming back.
We all grew up that day,
I was fourteen years old,
And to this day,
I see things a little differently.
I see things with a little bit of suspicion,
And with the fear in the back of my heart and mind of the world my babies are growing up in.
Everyone of us has a story for that day,
The people in the community and across the nation were shocked and troubled,
Once again reminded how quickly everything around us can change.
Today I read an article that “The Slasher” is being released from treatment.
Seven long years later,
The thought of him out walking around in the world still sends chills down my spine.
It’s not that criminals are never released,
But something so terrible being so close to me,
And even more personal for some of my friends and their family members,
It scares me,
It makes me, once again feel like my world just isn’t quite as safe.
No lives were lost,
And I thank God for that.
But that wednesday morning will still live forever in the hearts of all those who were touched by the events,
Whose school and families and friends were scarred.
Yes, we all have a story for that day,