(This is based on the song 'This is Your Time' by Michael W. Smith. I have been wanting to write this for a while, but the opportunity didn't present itself till a competition at school. I don't consider myself very good at writing short stories; I much prefer longer, more involved stories, and I certainly have more experience with the latter, so if you would be willing to offer any feedback/ suggestions on how to make any future short stories better, it would be greatly welcomed!)
"Do you ever get songs stuck in your head?"
"I think everyone does."
"But, really stuck? For, like, a whole day?"
"Sometimes. This morning in math, I had this terrible Brad Paisley song stuck in my head! Because my mom was blasting the country station on the car radio this morning." Kim groaned as if the memory was just too much to bear. "Why, what's stuck in your head?"
"'This is Your Time' by Michael W. Smith."
"Oh. One of your religious songs, right?"
"You could put it that way." Lacey conceded as she bounced the eraser end of her pencil against her chin absently. "Do you think we get songs stuck in our heads for a reason?"
"I can't possibly think of a reason that 'I'd Like to Check You for Ticks' will benefit me in any way. I mean, gross!"
Lacey laughed. "Is that the Brad Paisley song?"
The tardy bell rattled harshly like a jingle bell when a toddler tries to shake it, and Lacey hastily dug through her backpack for her green homework folder, silently humming the chorus of what used to be her favorite song – before it lodged permanently in her brain.
This is your time,
This is your dance,
Live every moment,
Leave nothing to chance…
What if tomorrow,
What if today,
Faced with the question,
Oh, what would you say?
As far as she knew, Michael W. Smith (or Smitty, as her uncle called him) had written the song as a sort of memorial to Cassie Bernall, a girl who was shot at Columbine High School after Dylan Klebold asked if she still believed in "her God." Lacey couldn't even begin to imagine what she would say in response to that question.
Mrs. Sillars began writing the daily warm-up on the whiteboard. Several boys in the back corner started laughing at something, and Alyssa continued her diligent attempt to catch Will's coveted eye by yawning. What a typical history class. Soon, Mrs. Sillars would turn around and realize that no one could possibly care any less about her warm-up, and then she would yell at everyone in the class to stop being lazy because China would soon surpass America in the proverbial food chain because of America's lazy students. The usual lecture.
Several minutes into class, the intercom on the wall buzzed, and then the office lady's voice crackled anxiously, "Teachers, a student has just been spotted carrying a gun on campus. Please-"
Lacey jumped and stared, horrified, at the smoking, shattered intercom speaker. Several girls screamed.
"Nobody say a word," someone ordered. Lacey glanced around the classroom until she spotted a tall, stocky student standing in the doorway, dressed in all black and clutching a gun tightly between two sweaty hands. "Talk, and I kill you. You," he waved menacingly at Mrs. Sillars with his gun, "lock the door. Now. You, close the curtains."
Then Lacey realized that his gun was pointed directly at her.
She stood shakily and crept towards the windows. Even her blood vessels seemd to tremble in terror and bewilderment. Why was he here? Why their room, of all the classrooms in the school? Would he actually use the gun? I don't want to die. I can't die.
The metal curtain hangers screeched loudly against the curtain rod as Lacey slid the heavy canvas over what might have been someone's last glimpse into the outside ever. Just the thought made her stomach clench. Kim started crying.
"Shut up," the gunman ordered, jabbing his weapon dangerously close to her face.
Lacey slithered back to her desk, chest pounding. The remains of the intercom sparked, and a few more people joined Kim in her frightened whimpering. The gunman began pacing back and forth in the front of the classroom, a job usually reserved for Mrs. Sillars, and save for the sobbing girls, the sparking intercom, and his shoes tapping against the chipped linoleum, everything was silent.
She could just imagine all the other kids around campus – they'd be huddled under their desks making jokes about having to pee in buckets for the next six hours. They'd think the whole thing was a big melodrama, like last year when the high school across town had a lockdown for the entire day because someone had mistaken a bottle of Gatorade for a gun (how that could possibly happen, Lacey had no idea). But bottles of Gatorade couldn't shoot bullets at the intercom system.
This was real. When she dared to peek at the other kids in the classroom, she only saw horror, panic, emotions that her vocabulary could not even begin to describe. No joking here.
"Dude, what's your problem?" a kid named Dallas whispered to the girl next to him.
Dallas screamed. Kept screaming. And as soon as everyone else figured out what had happened, they started screaming, too. Even Mrs. Sillars screamed, and this time, not in frustration with her students.
As Dallas collapsed onto the floor beneath his desk, blood dripping steadily through the fingers pressed up to his shoulder, students scrambled to the back of the room and began building a barricade with desks, backpacks, chairs, anything they could find. It was almost like a bad Western, but no hero came gallivanting in to save the day. Mrs. Sillars rushed to Dallas' side with a first aide kit. That'll do a lot of good, Lacey thought.
"Dude," someone hissed apprehensively "he and Dallas used to be, like, best friends."
"You know this kid?" one of the weepy girls whispered.
Everyone screamed again, looking around for who had fallen victim to the gunman's latest whim, but Lacey finally realized that he had only shot the ceiling. It was enough to shut everyone up. So he went back to pacing.
"I'm texting my mom," a guy named Sean notified them quietly.
"What is she, Ironwoman?"
"Shut up!" Sean hissed angrily.
Dear God, help us. Help Mrs. Sillars and Dallas and this kid. Lacey started shaking. She didn't understand. Was it something she had done? Why would anyone come in and shake up her perfectly balanced life up like the wind shakes dead leaves on a tree? Nothing made any sense.
The gunman didn't seem to mind the hushed whispers of his victims, just so long as they didn't pertain to him or interfere with his concentration. His concentration. What could possibly be going through this kid's mind that he would start shooting other kids, one of his friends, even? What kind of disillusionment?
"Hey, Lacey, why don't you just pray him out of here?" Alex, a sworn atheist, sneered at her. She hated it when people mocked her faith as if it was some kind of fairy tale or nursery rhyme, and she was queuing up to say something about it when their dictator spoke.
"Quiet!" he roared. People pressed back against the back wall in fear, willing the desk and backpack fort and whatever other forces they believed in to keep them alive. Dallas wailed again at Mrs. Sillars' improvised first aide performance. "Who's praying?"
No one made any effort to answer.
"I don't ask rhetorical questions," he growled, creeping closer.
"…Lacey prob'ly is," Alex offered after a deceptively long pause.
Lacey turned around and found the whole class pointing accusing fingers at her. Maybe her faith was no secret, but surely they had to have some idea at this guy's intentions. She sure did.
She nodded hesitantly. Why her? Why did he have to do this to her? Where were her friends? Where was her God? When would she wake up from this horrible nightmare?
"You believe in God?"
She nodded again, then flinched as she heard the sound of a trigger clicking into position, ready to shoot. Something cold, hard, metallic pressed up against her forehead, and she followed the gunman's disappearing arm up to his twisted, almost hungry face. Hungry.
"How about now?" he snarled.
She stared at his sagging black beanie, trying to avoid those ravenous eyes. This is your time, this is your dance… "With all my heart."
This was her time,
This was her dance,
She lived every moment,
Left nothing to chance.
She swam in the sea,
Drank of the deep,
Embraced the mystery of all she could be.
What if tomorrow,
What if today,
Faced with the question,
Oh, what would you say?