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A Memory Resurfaced

Lately, the universe has been pulling me back to a day I'd like to forget forever. It lives in the dark crevices of my soul. I've pushed it down for decades, so deep that it could never hurt me again.

"Darrian Douglas," came blaring across the intercom system in that scratchy, barely audible tone of a high school intercom. "Darrian, we need you to come to the office immediately," the voice said, interrupting my third-period Spanish class. My teacher paused her lesson to inform the voice that I'd be right there. I was no stranger to the office, but that day, I hadn't broken any rules that usually landed me there. I remember a wave of unease washing over me. I knew something wasn't quite right, and I was about to be bombarded with something unknown. The clue came earlier, I thought, when the voice told me to bring all my belongings. That was unusual.

I walked slowly down the abandoned hallways of my high school, pondering what they needed me for. When I got to the office, there was my mother. The look on her face was disheveled and full of sadness. This was when I began to worry. Ugh, was one of my sisters hurt? Or my grandmother? Never in a thousand years would I have guessed what really happened.

We left the office at a quick pace. When we got in the car, my mother told me that my little cousin was hurt badly. I interrupted with a barrage of questions. She listened and then told me he was gone. "Gone," I said. "What do you mean, gone?" "Gone, Jerell. He was... he was shot." I thought to myself, how does a kid his age get shot? He's barely old enough to go to school. She continued, explaining that he was playing on the playground when two men, brandishing guns and chasing each other, began to shoot. He quickly took cover behind a tree, but it wasn't enough. The tree didn't and couldn't protect him from the anger and immaturity of the two men who had the disagreement. One that would cost my cousin his life before it even really began. It also cost them their lives, but they didn't seem to calculate this because they were driven by anger and whatever else they were worried about that day.

My thoughts went to my aunt, who had just lost a child, and my other cousins, who had just lost a brother. My kid is about his age now. Maybe this is why this experience, which I took the time to bury, is digging its way through my soul, attempting to reach the surface of my existence. Or maybe it's because a friend recently asked me if I had any experience with gun violence. I don't know. I do know that it still hurts today like it did all those years ago. It hurts because I know my aunt has to live with it, and so do my cousins, and my pain pales in comparison to theirs. I'm not sure what I want you to do with this information, and I'm not sure why I'm telling you, but I am.



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