Gut Shot

A hallway in a New Jersey Catholic high school


Four years of boredom. That is what high school was for Cam. Day after day of class after class, but at least he knew there was a finish line. Just four years of putting up with stupid assignments, an irritating PE teacher, and weekly visits to the guidance counselor for not living up to his potential, but it was all worth it because eventually he would be clear of it Eventually he would walk that stage, receive his diploma, and be an adult. He was almost done.

Then he got the letter. His grades in economics, which he was taking for a second time, and participation in government had fallen below passing marks. He missed too much gym the last marking period, failing that as well. Three failed classes, which means he would have to repeat his entire senior year.

All he can do know is stare at that page. His chest tightens and he feels like his entire world has come crashing down around him. He knew he was not the best student. He slacked off way too much, but still he pulled decent enough grades that he got into community college. It was not ideal, but it was a start. He knew he would do better once he was making his own schedule, once it was about learning and not jumping through state mandated hoops.

He looks at the scowl on his dad’s face and the tears in his mother’s eyes and he feels like they hate him. Hell, he hates himself a little. He hates that he did not put more into it. He hates that he has not played their little games for four years just so he could play his own game later. Hindsight is twenty-twenty though, and there is nothing for it now. Just another year of routine, except now he has to do it with the humiliation of his failure.

He holds that letter tight and the room erupts in a terrible shriek. Over and over the sound scratches at his ears until he opens his eyes, lying down in his bed in a cold sweat. In the dark he looks over at the cap and gown hanging on his door. He swallows hard, and knows the bullet he dodged. He swallows hard and is grateful it was just a dream,




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