"Today I'd like to talk about your assignment," started Dr. Greene, even before Jacky had sat down.
"What assignment?" Jacky asked. "The soccer thing?" They'd already talked about his terrible gym class experience last week. While she had encouraged him to participate in class again, they hadn't set a firm goal.
Dr. Greene held up a typed piece of paper with some red writing on it that looked familiar. "Your eulogy."
"Oh." He sank into the chair and slouched down.
"It's been about six weeks since we started our sessions. The school would like a progress report at eight weeks. At that point, I'll have to state whether or not I think you should continue in therapy."
Jacky didn't say anything.
"What do you think?" Dr. Greene said, setting the paper aside and looking at him. "Do you think you're ready to talk about this today?"
He shrugged, picking at a spot on his jeans. "I guess."
"I'd like for you to read it to me."
She held the paper out. It floated in the air in front of him, and he didn't move right away to take it from her. Her arm would get tired, he thought. She wasn't going to hold it out there forever.
He took it from her and looked at it.
The red writing across the top of the page had been something he'd only glimpsed briefly in the principal's office.
Please see me after class, Mr. Dugan had written, but there was no punctuation dotting the instruction. Like Mr. Dugan had thought he might wait until a day or two from now to speak with Jacky, then decided that he had to hand the paper over to the school administration without talking to Jacky first.
Mr. Dugan had probably talked to Ryan after class.
He'd almost forgotten what he'd written, and now, looking over the first paragraph, he felt his face burn. Why had he been so stupid?
"I'd like you to read it out loud," Dr. Greene said quietly.
His leg started jiggling. "I was being stupid when I wrote this."
"I'd still like to talk about it."
He sighed and looked at it again. After a few minutes of saying nothing, he sighed again and started reading in a flat voice.
"Today we gather to mourn the passing of Andrew Jackson Jennings. Not many will grieve for him. Some might say his death was justified. There is not even anyone here willing to speak for him. His mother has asked for me to give a brief eulogy.
"Last Tuesday, Andrew made the decision to end the lives of several of his classmates. He brought weapons into a school building and executed three members of the football team before turning the gun on himself.
"If Andrew had only committed suicide, this might be a different sort of eulogy. As a child he was active and enjoyed playing soccer and baseball, making the junior varsity soccer team in high school. He excelled in all of his subjects, especially math and science. In his eighth grade yearbook, Andrew stated that he hoped to become a doctor.
"Two years ago, a car accident took his father and sister and left him an amputee. One might say that was the beginning of the end. Though he managed to stay on top of his schoolwork throughout his long recovery, Andrew never returned to his former self.
"The only reason I even agreed to give this eulogy was because I do not think Andrew was the scapegoat this community wants him to be. It is clear to me that Andrew had been dealt a bad hand--"
Jacky stopped there and sneered, "Har har." When Dr. Greene didn't laugh, he sighed and kept reading.
"-- and on top of that, his classmates were less than understanding. No bullying incidents were officially reported, which is simply an excuse on the part of the school administration to absolve itself of blame. In the aftermath of this unfortunate tragedy, many students have revealed to reporters of the ways the victims of Andrew' killing spree had instigated this incident.
"So I am using this opportunity to speak out against bullying in all its forms, whether it is physical threats, cruel remarks, or cyberbullying. Do not confuse this school shooting with political issues of gun control. When we remember Andrew Jackson Jennings, we must remember to be kind to each other."
Dr. Greene didn't say anything immediately after Jacky finished. He wanted to rip the stupid paper into little fucking pieces. But he couldn't, unless he used his teeth. He settled for slowing squeezing his fist until the paper began to crumple into a ball.
"I read your paper before we had our first session," said Dr. Greene finally.
He glared at her and blinked. "Then why the fuck did you make me read it to you?"
"Because I wanted you to feel the weight of your words," she said. "There are quite a few things about this that I find interesting."
"Enlighten me," he snapped.
"My first impression fit with Principal Novak's decision not to expel you. This is very clearly not a threat, but a cry for help."
His face reddened, and he felt his throat constrict.
"There are also many things that indicate to me that you were a person who was deeply depressed, who felt under attack, and yet... in the end..."
Jacky looked down at the crumpled sheet, re-read the final words.
"In the end, you – in the guise of this unnamed person who had stood up to give a eulogy for a known killer – makes a plea for kindness. And that told me there was hope still left for you."
Happy weekend, everyone! Hang in there until the next update on Tuesday :)
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Waiting RoomTeen Fiction
Everyone at school knows Andrew Jackson Jennings. Lost an arm in a car accident. Openly gay. Future school shooter. Everyone at school knows Ryan Sullivan. Football captain. Nice guy. Future valedictorian. When Andrew ends up in therapy after writin...