My name is Chloe Franks.
I'm 23 years old, and I attend Florida State University. My life isn't perfect, like everyone else. I used to think it was. Then I had to go and screw it all up.
To explain the whole story, I need to go back a quite a few years. I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, Oakwood.
I suppose it started in fourth grade, when I realized I was actually "one of the popular people." I guess it surprised me; I didn't like boy bands, I didn't wear that much makeup... It made me feel like I needed to blend in even more with my new friends...
By sixth grade, I was one the most popular girls in school. I had lots of popular friends, a cute boyfriend, and most importantly, my best friend in the world, Dana-Marie Jordan.
Dana and I were closer than anyone at Oakwood Junior High. We were friends since diapers; we knew everything about each other and we knew all of each otherâ�™s secrets. Dana and I both had the biggest crushes on Josh Hartnett, we both liked the color blue, we were both good writers, we both liked to act and sing, and we both loved cats.
Of course, being the popular girls we were, Dana and I liked to hang out with the popular people. We were friends with the other cheerleaders, the football players, and anyone else we deemed "worthy" of our friendship. We were popular. And we weren't afraid of showing it.
Looking back, I see what a bitch I was sometimes. All of my friends and I had a nasty little habit of making others feel, well... not too good.
For instance, there was a kid in Oakwood we knew since elementary school, Dean Davidson. He was your typical quiet, geeky loser. He was a scrawny kid with big black glasses, messy blonde hair, and zits like you'd never imagine. Of course, looking back, those were stupid reasons to pick on him, but I can't do anything about that now.
He was picked on by almost everyone at Oakwood Junior High. Especially my friends and I. But we couldn't help it! The kid was a loser! Back then, I thought it was cool to pick on "the geeks" and show who was the popular one; all of my friends did. I'll admit now, we were a bunch of brats.
I remember the times when the teasing went a bit too far. One occasion sticks in my mind. It was late in our sixth grade year, and Dean was confronted by some of my football player friends in the boy's bathroom. I don't know exactly what happened in there, but one of the teachers found him crying in one of the stalls with a bloody nose and some bruises. That was, perhaps, one of his more serious beatings, which shows he wasn't really beaten up too badly...
He never ratted out any of the people who tormented him. I think I know why, though. Dean's father died when he was an infant and his stepfather was an alcoholic hick. His mother ran out on him when he was eight, and left him with his stepfather. Everyone at school -except, apparently, the teachers- knew his stepfather was a lunatic. He'd come home every night drunker than a sailor and would sometimes vent out his random rage on Dean by beating the crap out of him. I'm sure he didn't want his stepfather to think he was a wimp and beat him up some more. But enough about Dean's home life.
My eighth grade year began as every usual year did. Nothing abnormal at all.
I remember it was around late November or early December when things started getting a bit scary.
I'm not sure what happened that day as my friends and I were walking down the hall to fourth period, but the next thing I knew, my friend Ryan had punched Dean in the face and he was lying on the floor.
Some of the other football players started cheering Ryan on, which, I guess, got his adrenaline going or something. The next few minutes were a blur. Ryan and Dean were beating the shit out of each other; Dean barely fighting back. It was frightening to watch, though, I'll admit, I was a bit excited watching them fight. I had never seen a "real" brawl before.
Our vice principal had stopped the fight and Ryan had ended up suspended for a week for fighting. When he got back from his suspension, though, he would walk around the halls bragging about how cool and tough he was.
The next few months flew by as normally as ever. Dean was absent from school a lot, but I don't think anyone really noticed.
I remember one night, April 6th, I was talking to Dana online. I remember every word of our conversation; I'll never forget it.
SweetBabe17: hey chloe, what do u wanna do after high school?
Rockerchica101: i dunno. i guess become a journalist or something. you?
SweetBabe17: after a few years in college, i'm gonna be a star. my name's gonna be in lights and josh hartnett and i will be lounging on a beach somewhere in the bahamas together : )
Rockerchica101: lol. i can totally picture that, except it'll be ME with josh hartnett
SweetBabe17: w/e! :-P
Rockerchica101: :-P yourself!
SweetBabe17: ha. you'll see, chloe. i'll be famous one day. and when i win my first Emmy, you'll be one of the little people. ;-)
Rockerchica101: lol. gee. thanks.
The next day, April 7th, was the most horrifying day of my life.
It started out as all my days do. I woke up, ate breakfast, showered, dressed, etc. etc. I remember a lot of little details about that day. I remember the last thing my parents said to me that morning was, "Try not to annoy your teachers!" I remember even remember how I noticed that my brother had gotten lazy when he cut the cut the grass near our mailbox.
Dana's brother, Kevin, picked us up as usual and drove us to the junior high school on his way to the high school.
I remember how Dana's last words to her brother were, "We're going to the game tonight. Donâ�™t wait up!"
I remember talking to our friends Riley Harper, Lauren O'Connor, and Julie Sumner while we waited for the bell to ring.
I remember glancing at my watch. 8:57AM. Three minutes until the bell would ring.
And that was the moment the first shot rang out.
Everyone in the front courtyard had turned their heads in surprise.
There was Dean Davidson.
Standing at the entrance to the school.
Holding a hunting rifle.
The realization hit us like a ton of bricks. Dean. Had. A. Gun. There was about half a second when no one spoke. No one moved. No one even breathed.
And then there was sheer chaos.
There are no words to describe the next few minutes.
There were screams, more gunshots. I had no clue which direction I was going; there were so many people around me trying to get away from Dean as fast as possible. People were getting trampled, I could hear administrators rushing outside and yelling for the students to get into the building...
I heard more gunshots. More screams.
"CHLOE!" I heard someone scream.
I felt a searing pain run through my entire body. It was like no pain I had ever felt before in my life.
I had been shot in the ankle.
I turned around and collapsed to the ground.
Dana was running towards me, tears in her eyes.
And then I saw him.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him aim the gun.
"NO!!!!!" I screamed, but I knew who he was aiming for.
The shot rang out loud in the courtyard.
Dana froze in mid-run.
She gave me one last, helpless look, and blood trickled out of her mouth and streamed down her chest.
"NO!!!!" I screamed again, as she fell to her knees, then collapsed, facedown, on the ground.
It was terrible.
Dean and I looked at each other for a split second; his face was consumed by horror. I guess he hadn't actually meant to aim that goddamn gun so well...
I looked at him with a face of pure hatred. I don't know what came over me next, but before I could stop and think, I had gotten up and tackled him to the ground.
"DIE!!!" I had screamed, adding in a few horrendous curses.
I remember smacking him in the face, and feeling his cheek align with my right fist. I remember feeling his blood trickling down my hands as I dug my newly manicured nails into his skin. I wanted him to die. I wanted him to suffer.
I saw him reach for his gun, but I showed no signs of quitting. I screamed in rage and started clawing at his face-- Another shot rang out and I felt another searing pain in my right shoulder.
I was about to attack him again, when he gave me the finger and pointed the gun at his head.
"DO IT!!!!" I screamed, in pure rage.
He gave me a look of helplessness and pity; the same look Dana had given me, minutes before.
And then he pulled the trigger.
I screamed again, as I was covered in blood. His blood. I felt strong hands dragging me away, and then there was nothing but blackness.
When I came to, I was being loaded into an ambulance.
Looking around, I saw a stream of television reporters interviewing some of the students who weren't injured, and I saw dozens of other students being loaded into ambulances. I could hear sirens in the distance.
I turned around and saw my mother, father, and little brother running towards me.
My mother was about to hug me, when the ambulance attendant shooed her away.
"Don't touch her," he said. "Her wounds are sensitive. She'll be alright, but we've got to get her to hospital right away."
My family nodded.
"We love you, baby," my father whispered as they shut the doors to the ambulance.
Not until I was released from the hospital a week later, did I find out the whole story.
Dean had stolen one of his stepfather's hunting rifles and had come to school that day to target everyone who had ever picked on him. He didn't mean to kill anyone; just injure them. He was going to kill himself when it ended anyways.
I asked my family about Dana. They told me she was dead. The only one dead, other than Dean.
Ryan Sumner had been shot in the leg; he would never play football again.
His twin sister, Julie, and Lauren O'Connor were both shot in the stomach, but would be fine.
Riley Harper was the only one who didn't get shot.
Blake Evanson and Kyle Thompson were shot in the shoulder, but would be fine.
Eric Morgan had also been shot in the shoulder, and has lost all feeling in his left arm. The doctors said he may be paralyzed, but at least he was alive.
Dana's funeral was short and sullen. I was supposed to give the eulogy, but I couldn't find enough strength to get up there and tell everyone who had loved Dana as much as I had how much I'd miss her. Her brother gave the eulogy instead.
Standing over her open casket with tears in my eyes, I looked down at her pitiful, lifeless face.
She would never be a star now. Her name would never be in lights. She'd never get to lounge on a beach in the Bahamas with Josh Hartnett. All because of her own friends and their over-inflated egos.
After Dana's funeral, things in Oakwood were very different.
My parents and Riley's parents organized the Dana-Marie Jordan Fund for Teens. All the money they raised was given to organizations like the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, etc. It was nice to see Dana's name attached to something that was doing good, but it didn't help the grief.
My friends and I slowly started to grow apart.
Ryan and Julie moved to California in their sophomore year. Lauren became completely engrossed in her studies, and never talked to anyone. Riley and I quit cheerleading; we had no pep left in us, anyways. Eric quit football and became home schooled. As far as I know, he is still undergoing physical therapy for his arm. Blake and Kyle kept playing football, and moved into a different "crowd." They didn't change much. I guess they never realized what picking on someone can do.
I myself graduated from Oakwood High sixth in my class. Lauren was valedictorian. In her speech, she said something about Dana and the Oakwood Junior High shooting. I broke down and cried in the middle of it; it was too much to bear.
After graduating, Riley and I enrolled at Florida State University. We both wanted to get out of Minnesota. I'm majoring in journalism, and working as an intern at the local news station. I might be able to live my dream. Dana wouldn't.
I am currently engaged to a guy named Joshua Hartley. Itâ�™s strangely ironic, don't you think? We'll be married in November of our graduating year.
Every time someone asks me to tell them about the Oakwood shooting, I have always been open to tell them. Maybe, by telling you about it, you wont make the same stupid mistakes I did.