When I was sixteen, another sixteen year old took a knife to school and wounded sixteen people.

They charged him as an adult, 

the judge refusing to view him as a juvenile, 

and I didn’t even know what college I wanted to go to.

An Adult, capital A.

Like a scarlet letter, telling everyone what you did was something much worse than a child could have done. 

So horrible, it deserves red paint.

Because knives are for older hands, but knives grow rusty over the years, 

You can tell one in twelve sixteen year olds that and maybe he was one of them, 

One that will pull down his sleeves to cover up bright white scars on wrists.

See, the place he was from in Pennsylvania was not even a bad neighborhood.

My cousin works in that school district.

They said he was never picked on, a little quiet, but he had friends.

They said he was an adult, they said he was mentally ill.

My mother said,

“That’s the scary thing about mental illness, you never know what people are thinking.”

They said they didn’t know what he was thinking.

They said he had a conversation with a friend on the phone the night before about it.

How could they have known?

Sixteen people in the hospital, three critically wounded.

I remember the shootings at Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, even the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

I am talking trending on Twitter, 

headlining news stories for weeks and weeks, 

people crying at school, 

posting pictures of other people crying on Instagram, 

posting prayers anywhere they can think of, 

writing poems for the dead.

The irony is that nobody knew about those.

They couldn’t have been stopped.

But I am thinking of how much easier it is the stop a huge slicing or stabbing motion with a knife than a slight finger twitch of a gun.

How terrifying to know your fate by his hands before the blade hits your skin.

How terrifying to not know what he is thinking.

How many of them had been in the hospital before?

How many of them had put someone in the hospital?

How terrifying to not know what he is thinking.

The truth of this is that I am trying to un-condemn the actions of an attempted murder and it is suffocating me like the blankets I lay under, sweltering on the warmest summer nights.

Somehow I think the blankets will keep me safe, and 

My parents say they don’t know what I am thinking.


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