The list


Jayni Gogineni

“That was when one of my closest friends said the nine words that would haunt me for the next three years. “There was a list, and I was on it.”

Sobbing, she rushed back into the classroom of my old school. It was the uncontrollable kind, the kind where you can’t even get a word out. Catching her breath, she was finally able to answer my question.

“What happened?”

That was when one of my closest friends said the nine words that would haunt me for the next three years.

“There was a list, and I was on it.”

I was unable to process the words she was telling me. Tears trickled down her face and my eyes began to blur at the mere idea of losing her. I was told it was a hit list of everyone this hateful boy wanted to kill.

He was someone we both knew, someone that we’d trusted and treated with kindness. But the boy made angry, sexist and racist comments. He wanted most of the cast to die, including her.

And he wanted to be the one to do it.

I’d known this boy well. He was my romantic partner in a musical. It was terrifying to know that someone I had to hold close, flirt with, and associate with, wanted to kill my best friends. He’d always scared me.

I still remember the way he’d looked at me. At first, so hateful, so full of pain. I figured someone who can simply look at you and convey that sort of emotion must be hurting so much inside. So I was always kind to him.

I would lend him pencils when he needed one and tell him “bless you” after he sneezed. I was a silent friend to him because I didn’t know if he had anyone who was.
I remember the day when he realized I wasn’t out to get him. I remember when the look in his eyes changed and they were no longer piercing towards me, but softer. There was still something about him that wasn’t right, but he began to know that I saw him.

My friend, the one who was on the list, would stand up against his abusive comments and he didn’t like it. He would try to intimidate her but she wouldn’t take it. She was always strong but the day the list came out I saw her crumble.

When I was at school, the one place I thought I wouldn’t have to worry, the lives of my best friends were threatened. Because of that, our outlook on safety has changed. For my friend, she tells me that every time she goes to school, she feels it’s a gamble for her life.

My mind still confuses reality, convincing me that I’m not safe. Not to leave the class to go to the bathroom, not to walk home by myself, not to live my life without the fear of losing it.

While I do regret not standing up to him, similar to my friend, I will never regret being kind.

We often can’t control what happens in life, but we can control how we treat people. Everybody needs someone to be kind to them and treat them like a person. We can all make such a large impact on those around us if we can remember that.