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Oliver stared down at me, sweat dripping from his nose, and an empty sort of despair from his eyes.

“Where were you?”

I couldn’t fully grasp what he was asking. What on earth was he talking about?

“Oliver please- “

“You’re every bit to blame as he is.”

Oliver calmly aimed, and fired.

“Alright class, please take your seats. I have the tests graded and we’re going to spend class today reviewing it.”

Everyone sat in their seats, quietly intimidated by how Mr. Thompson’s tone sounded today. I took my normal spot in the middle of the class, next to my best friend Zach. Out of the center of attention, just how I liked to be. Zach, on the other hand, the star high school football player, couldn’t have been more different. Boisterous, loud, and attention seeking, Zach was a typical high school jock who thought he ran the school. It didn’t bother me much, it amused me to watch his antics.

“I was very disappointed with the average score on this test. In order to succeed in my class, these exam averages need to improve dramatically.” Mr. Thompson explained, as he passed out last week’s exam. 73%. Not my best, but frankly it was better than I thought it would be.

“Son of a- “ Zach whispered. I turned toward him, in which he showed me his 64%. “Coach is gonna put me on academic probation if- “

“In order to succeed,” Mr. Thompson interrupted, “ I recommend changing your study habits. Or perhaps finding a tutor. There are a few individuals in your class who consistently provide outstanding work each day.” Mr. Thompson reflexively glanced at Oliver, an odd-looking kid who sat in the front of each class he was in. Oliver was extremely quiet, but everyone in school knew that he was the front runner for Valedictorian by the end of high school. Unfortunately for him, this made Oliver an easy target for those bigger than him, which happened to be everyone.

Zach immediately groaned. Out of all the people that picked on Oliver, Zach was the leading guy. For some reason, Zach came to liking picking on Oliver in every way possible, including landing some punches in after class. Teachers have caught him wailing on Oliver multiple times, only to have Zach get off scot free in order to play each Friday, leaving Oliver with a new bruise, a bloody lip, or a new pair of broken glasses. Point blank, Zach was out to get Oliver, and with each test Oliver succeeded at giving Zach another reason to attack.

“Of course, Oliver did well. That guy is such a nerd it’s ridiculous.” Zach complained.

“There is no reason to hate the kid. Maybe if you were nice to him, he would help you study. You obviously need it.” I poked some fun at him.

Zach scowled. “There is no way I am asking that dweeb to help. I don’t want it. I’ll be fine, I’ll convince Thompson to give out extra credit.”

I shrugged and drifted off in my imagination, as Mr. Thompson went over the test answers. Between each question, Oliver raised his hand, answering every question Mr. Thompson had. After every answer, I heard Zach snort, and I knew Oliver was in trouble.

The final bell rang. It was Friday and everyone was excited for the weekend. Zach exclaimed “I hate that kid. He thinks he’s so much better than everyone else. I guarantee you, he is not going to make it far in life, I don’t care how smart he is.”

“I think you go too hard on him. He’s just trying to get through school.” I mumbled.

“You’re too nice to him. Everything I do to him just toughens him up. Believe me, he needs it.” Zach argued.

We walked out of school and started walking home. Since it was Friday, Zach didn’t have practice, leaving him a couple hours to hangout before he had to be back at school for the game. I was glad, I never got to see Zach during the season, so Friday home games gave us a little time to relax before he had to leave again.

As soon as we got outside, Zach spotted Oliver about ten yards ahead of us. “Watch this, this’ll be fun.” Zach said excitedly. I didn’t want to watch. I knew whatever he was about to do was not going to be ‘fun.’ Zach jogged off toward Oliver, put his hand around him, and whispered something in his ear. I was too far away to hear; I didn’t like being around the situation when Zach was around Oliver. I looked down trying to ignore them, then heard a muffled splash. Zach had pushed Oliver into a puddle of mud. I guess he could have done worse, I thought to myself. Zach was laughing by the time I caught up to him.

I glanced down at Oliver quickly to see his lip quivering, trying to clean the mud off his glasses. He looked up at me, in which I quickly turned away. I wanted no part in any situation that Oliver and Zach were in, I didn’t want any attention brought towards me.

“Hey, wait up!” Zach shouted. I kept walking; I knew he would catch up. “You know, you should help me rough him up sometime, like I said, he could use it.”

“Oh yeah sure, “ I replied sarcastically. “And while I’m at it I could push you around too…what did you even say to him?”

“Eh, just some stuff that he should already know, how he’s a loser and nobody likes him and all that.”

“Got it.” We kept walking towards my house. I knew that wasn’t the end of Oliver and Zach incidents that day, because Oliver lived in my same neighborhood. I noticed Oliver waited a while until we were out of sight, so Zach focused on talking about the upcoming game that night. I wasn’t super interested in any sport in general, but I listened to him talk about how well he was going to do against them. When we got to my house, Zach insisted on playing catch to ‘fine tune’ his skills before the game. I really wanted to play video games, but I caved and agreed.

A half hour went by and I saw Oliver, still in his mud-covered sweater, rounding the corner to his house, which was a few houses down from mine and across the street. I didn’t say anything, hoping Zach wouldn’t notice. Too late. Zach caught my gaze and looked toward Oliver, in which he gave a malicious grin.

“Don’t.” I said firmly. “Not here.” Zach didn’t say anything, just curiously watched Oliver climb the steps to his house and go inside.

“I can’t believe you live across the street from him, I wouldn’t be able to handle it.” Zach shook his head. I shrugged; I didn’t know what to say. A few moments went by and Oliver left his house, except he was…taller? No, that was his dad. Oliver’s dad was the spitting image of Oliver, both with the dark wiry hair, thick glasses, and small stature. Zach caught my gaze again, and turned around, only to start laughing hysterically.

“No. Way. Is that his dad?” Zach snorted in between his bursts of laughter. “This is too good. He looks just like Oliver.”

I began walking inside with the football. I had enough of Zach’s antics for the day, I wanted to play video games. Zach came running in behind me. “Sorry, that just opens up so many new ideas.”

“Whatever man.” I walked to my room. Time for the weekend.

Monday came faster than I wanted it to. The football team lost in a close game last Friday, and I knew Zach was going to be in a bad mood. Mr. Thompson’s class rolled around, but Oliver’s seat was empty. I was immediately curious; Oliver never missed a class. I asked the girl who sat behind me if she knew why he was gone. “Didn’t you hear? Oliver’s dad was in a car crash this past weekend. He didn’t make it.” I was shocked. I just saw his dad on Friday. To think that was the last time I would see him alive made my heart drop. I turned around and slumped in my chair, thinking about what I would do if I lost my dad.

“Damn,” Zach mumbled, who had overheard the conversation. “I really wanted to relieve some stress today.”

Oliver was gone for the next couple days. It wasn’t until the following Monday he finally returned to school. He was quieter than normal, not even answering the teacher’s questions. School ended, and as I walked into the hallway, I caught Zach with his arm around Oliver nearby. As I got closer, it sounded like Zach was trying to comfort him. Finally, Zach is actually feeling sympathy for him.

Then I heard him talking. “And who knows, maybe you won’t end up looking as big of a loser as your dad did.”

I was appalled, but Oliver was horror stricken. It sounded like he couldn’t breathe. Tears filled his eyes rapidly, as he pushed past me and ran out of school. I stared at Zach, who had a grin on his face. I couldn’t believe him. Without saying a word, I shook my head and walked away.

The next day, Oliver wasn’t in class. “Looks like I finally got the little nerd to stay away from school.” Zach said proudly.

“Maybe if you weren’t such an ass to him, he’d be here.” I pointed bluntly.

“Whatever man.”


Everyone froze, including Mr. Thompson. More gunshots, closer this time. And screaming. The class erupted in a panic. Mr. Thompson tried to calm the class; “Everyone just stay in your seats; I’ll figure out what is going on.” So much for the attempt. Everyone immediately ran toward the door, practically running over Mr. Thompson on the way out. Everyone in the school was in the hallway in mass hysteria. Papers flying, students running, and everyone screaming. Gunshots followed every 10 seconds. I looked for the closest exit and pushed my way through the crowds. I started running towards the exit.

I turned the corner and stopped. Oliver was there, pointing a pistol at Zach, who was on the ground sobbing. Fear clouded my eyes, but I saw the pool of blood that was forming around Zach.

“Oliver…” I stammered. Oliver turned toward me, a violent hatred in his eyes that I didn’t think was possible out of him. “Oliver you don’t need to do this.”

“He deserves this. They all deserve this.” Oliver announced as he kept the gun pointed at Zach. It was the most words I had ever heard him say at once.

“Please Oliver, this isn’t you. You aren’t a killer. Please, just put down the gun. Please!”

Oliver turned his head towards me, but kept the gun at Zach. His eyes started to well up, and his lip quivered. He looked like the innocent kid I saw in the mud only a couple weeks ago. He slowly turned toward me, and his gaze, and the gun, lowered.

“It’s okay Oliver. We can figure this out together. I’m here for you.”

Oliver stopped crying. Tears still on his face, he stared at me with a look of realization.

“Where were you?” He muttered.

“…What do you mean Oliver?”

“Where were you?” His face contorted ever so slightly towards a calm, seething rage. “All those times he attacked me. Every time he made fun of me, beat me, bullied me, you were there. And you did nothing.”

“Oliver I- “ I tried to take a step back, but my feet became tangled, causing me to fall. I looked up at him. Oliver stared down at me, sweat dripping from his nose, and an empty sort of despair from his eyes. The once vibrant school halls were now dark. Deadly.

“You’re every bit to blame as he is.”

Oliver aimed his gun at me and fired.

Pain seared through my stomach, and I felt the blood start to pool. The last thing I saw was Oliver turning the pistol to his temple.

No one died on the day Oliver attacked the school. No one, except Oliver that is. Countless others were injured with moderate injuries. Zach transferred school districts, but to be honest, I didn’t really care anymore. My wounds healed, but my thoughts didn’t. Oliver’s funeral was held two weeks later, but few came. No one wanted sympathy for a “psychopath,” as they called him. But I was there. It wasn’t his fault for attacking, it was everyone at the school’s. Everyone had a part to play in Oliver’s attack. Oliver was the true victim. I guess the loudest cry for help is the one that is never said.


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