Highly Commended in the autumn TSS Flash Fiction 400 competition
It was Marilyn Manson.
It was the Middle School girls who had been his friends right up until they were strangers. It was the way they hid those first secrets of womanhood behind giggles and cheap nail polish.
It was the High School boys who threw ketchup packets at him in the cafeteria; who changed his name into an expletive to be whispered in the corridors, sniggered in the locker room.
It was Grand Theft Auto V.
It was his mother and the job she went back to when he was only three months old. It was every chat room message she didn’t read, every ounce of sugar she ever allowed to pass his lips, every time her back was turned.
It was Melinda from Sophomore English class who didn’t see him in that way; who thought he was sweet she really did but saw him more as a friend and no she didn’t want to go to the movies no thank-you.
It was his father who had a licence – who owned all of them legally – but who didn’t hide the key.
It was Eric Harris. It was Dylan Klebold.
It was Greg from the soccer team who gave him a lift to school that morning and who should have noticed something, surely? The heft of his backpack as he slid out of the car, perhaps, or the glance back over his shoulder, or the way he said goodbye.
It was the doctors who gave him Ritalin too young, or not young enough, or who prescribed him antidepressants (or didn’t) when he didn’t (or did) need them.
It was the teacher who didn’t lock the door quickly enough.
It was the layout of the school or the state of modern parenting or additives in food.
It was the thoughts of people who thought the wrong things.
It was the prayers prayed to the wrong gods.
Chloe Banks started writing at an early age and somehow forgot to stop. She has won a handful of short and flash fiction competitions over the years, and her first novel – The Art of Letting Go – was published by Thistle Books in 2014. She lives on the edge of Dartmoor with her husband, two small sons and a childish sense of wonder at the world. When not trying to get words or toddlers to behave she walks, eats pudding and daydreams. She can be found at chloebanks.co.uk or on Twitter @ChloeTellsTales.