MAY 20, 1988
One day in the late 80’s, a few days before my 15th birthday, three of my friends and I were hanging out at our friend Zack’s house. There were five of us all together. We’d been suspended from school for protesting the day before. Our parents were all at work, so we decided we might as well have fun with it and gathered at Zack’s for the day. We’d planned to head over to a spring festival that would open after school was out that day, so we were basically killing time until then. By mid afternoon we were pretty bored and someone had the idea to bring out a Ouija board. I’d never used one before and had no idea what to expect. So I didn’t understand how unusual it was that it kept spelling out the word “help.” We studied each other’s faces trying to sus out if someone was moving the planchette. I still remember the frightened looks in my friends’ eyes. We didn’t know what to do with that word so we asked questions and it spelled out answers. Piece by piece a picture emerged. A terrified little boy was hiding somewhere. He was in danger and he was asking us to help him. He was not alone. There were many children with him—all in danger, all hiding. We were at a loss. We started arguing about what to do and whether it was a trick. It was upsetting and confusing. Eventually we put the game away because it was freaking everyone out, and anyway it was time to head over to the festival. When we stepped outside a fire truck sped past with it’s sirens blaring. Then a cop car. And another. This was a quiet residential community, sirens were not commonplace. We piled into the car and noticed more police cars and ambulances and fire trucks, all speeding, all with sirens blaring and the names of neighboring communities on them. As we drove we were rerouted by street closures. There were so many emergency vehicles from so many neighboring communities we lost count. It was clear that something terrible had happened but we had no idea what or where. Finally we got to a point where emergency vehicles were passing us from a new direction, and we were able to figure out where they were headed: The elementary school. There was very little talk in the car then. We wondered whether any of our classmates who’d been at the high school all day would have any information about what was going on. Remember this was the late 80’s—no smart phones, no internet. We were in the dark. After we parked and started walking toward the festival, we noticed throngs of our schoolmates running past us headed *away* from the fest. We pulled one aside and asked what was going on “spring fest is canceled.” We ran to keep up with her. Asking why and what happened etc. Breathless and wide-eyed she answered “we’ve all been evacuated and sent home—someone opened fire on a classroom at the elementary school— she’s still at large. We all have to go straight home and lock our doors.” And then she was gone sprinting up the street. Our stomachs dropped. We stared at each other in silence, and then started running back to the car. None of us ever spoke about this with each other or anyone else as far as I know. I can’t say for sure what anyone else’s reasons are but for me, I never wanted to shift focus from the horrible tragedy that had occurred that day. One child had died and others were injured. The community was traumatized. We were mute. I still don’t talk about it.
Submitted by Heather L