| The first of June, and school let out early so everyone could practice their parts for the ceremony. One more week 'til graduation, and I would be free. It wasn't I who was graduating. It was my older brother, Shane, and all his friends. Shane had been accepted into a college in some small southern town a thousand miles from home. I would be free of him watching my every move and telling me all the time what I was doing wrong.
Each Junior had a part in the graduation ceremony. I was to serve as usher. As per long standing tradition, the ushers had to carry scepters and march like drum majors when they led the class to their seats. I was in the stadium practicing ways to handle the scepter. I had deliberately picked a time when no one was around. I was struggling when the gym teacher came by. She directed me to demonstrate my carrying skills. This, I knew, was not a good time. However, she was the coach, so I did as she said. Just as I was ready to toss my scepter into the air and make a fancy turn, my brother came running up.
"Roger!" Shane shouted.
This distracted me just as I let the scepter fly. I hadn't thrown it all that high, but my loss of concentration made me not complete my turn and the scepter came crashing down. It hit Coach in the head and knocked her out cold!
"OH NO!" I shouted and turned to the coach. She had a nasty gash on her forehead and was bleeding. "Call 911! Shane, call 911!"
"You hit the coach!" shouted Shane. "You hit her on the head!"
"Where is your phone? Call for help!" I was desperate and the coach was starting to change colors, pale, with blood gushing. I pulled off my t-shirt and held it tight against the wound.
"I don't have my phone!" he exclaimed.
"Here, hold this. Press hard!" I directed. He put his hand on the t-shirt while I pulled out my phone and dialed. When the operator picked up, I answered all his questions.
"Please, Hurry! She looks awful!" I said. Just then, she started to twitch and jerk. Her head flew back and her body went into a hideous contortion.
"There's something really wrong! Please hurry! She's twisting all over the place," I shouted.
Shane's hand slipped off her forehead when she started to twist and the blood kept gushing. Right when we first heard the siren, she stopped moving and her body went limp. She looked awful and the bleeding slowed down. I touched her face and it felt cool and kind of sticky.
"She's dead. You killed her, Roger. You killed Coach Jenson." Shane said in a low, hopeless voice. Just then the police and ambulance drove into the stadium. I froze in panic.
The ambulance crew jumped out. They started working on getting her breathing again while they loaded her into the ambulance. The police came over to talk to us.
"He killed her. He killed the coach!" shouted Shane to the first police officer while pointing at me.
"Calm down, son. They are taking her to the hospital. You don't need to yell. I am listening. Now what happened?" The officer was looking at me, but Shane just kept saying I killed her. It was like those were the only words he knew.
"I was showing her my trick and the scepter fell and hit her on the head. It was an accident. Honest officer. She asked me to show her and I was showing her. I just didn't catch it when I threw it. Is she going to die?" I asked.
The first officer asked us to sit on the bleachers while they got our information. Then, he left us sitting with the other guy while he got in his car and on the radio. After a bit, he came back over.
"I called your parents and they are on their way. We are all going to the station so we can get your statements," he said.
I couldn't look at Shane. I was so scared, I wasn't even mad at him for what he was saying. I started to shake and shiver, and then, I threw up. I kept seeing Coach's face on the ground with blood all over it. I thought I was going to pass out, but instead, I kept heaving. The officer spoke quietly trying to reassure me. My whole body hurt. Shane announced our parent's arrival. I heard my Mom beside me. I had never been so glad to hear her voice in my whole life. She sounded calm and this helped me calm down. I was finally able to stop retching and stand up straight.
"Roger, you are OK. We are here now," said Mom. As she was finishing the sentence, Dad came over and told us all that we needed to get in the car to go to the station. By this time, I didn't even feel like I knew anything and I was light headed. Mom put her arm around me and guided me to the car. Dad walked with Shane.
When we got to the station, we sat on a bench in the hall. No body said anything to us. We sat for what seemed like hours. Finally, an officer came and led us into a small room.
"Ms. Jenson is in surgery. We need you each to make a statement about what happened. Another officer led Shane to another room and Mom went with him. I told my story and then they had me write it. All the time, Shane's words, "You killed Coach" echoed through my head. I kept wondering if I was under arrest. The first officer from the stadium came into the room and told us Ms. Jenson would be OK. I passed out.