It had been 10 years since I saw my friends die while I cowered under a desk. Exactly 10 years since I was shot in the thigh, and arm. I moved away from Columbine, and Colorado, in the aftermath, to Florida. Not because of the memories, because of my husband's job.
"MA!" I was startled out of my thoughts when my wee Willie barrelled towards me, 6 years old and so rambunctious. He was followed up the sand at the beach by his father, laughing and his hair blowing in the wind. He looked as handsome as the day I married him 7 years ago. They're playing a game of chases, and Willie was using me as protection, laughing madly he peeked from behind my back.
"Ah, daddy needs a break..." He had sighed and sat down next to me. "Can you believe that I used to play football in school, and now I can barely run across the sand?" He pulled me close.
"Well, you know you didn't keep that up. If you had maybe you would be able to keep up with Willie." I laughed at him.
I had gone to a memorial for the dead, with my crutches and bandaged limbs and all, the television cameras were there and I could feel the lens of the camera trained on me because I'd survived the so-called Library massacre and would generate into viewership numbers. I cried and didn't pay much attention until I saw Jason's shadow on the ground. He was wearing his junior varsity jacket with a black armband and carried a candle, I couldn't carry one because of my crutches. I frowned a little, wondering what Jason was doing until I actually saw the camera at my back...he was shielding me from their sight. They weren't too bothered about not getting me now because Jason Halperin was in their line of sight and the "hero of the library massacre" was better than some random survivor. I sniffed as they read out the names of the dead, Jason pulled me closer to him and kissed the top of my curls...That was the start of something beautiful between us.
Jason kissed my knuckles and brought me out of my musing, "What are you thinking about?" His brown eyes danced with the joy that had been there ever since he had proposed to me.
"Not much, just the first time we really met each other..."He knew I was talking about the library.
"Well, it is the anniversary..." I could tell he was uncomfortable so I fell into his arms. "I'm glad we got out of the house. Ten years...it's all anyone can talk about..."
"It was the worse massacre in American history...until 9/11 that is." I reach up and touch his face, stubble forming on his chin made me chuckle, "I love you. And you're my hero from that day, you know that?"
"I'm everyone's hero..."
"Not to me. if it hadn't have been for you I'd have been up in that library until it was all over...and if you hadn't been there, I bet none of us would've survived. You warned us. It's thanks to you that I was able to walk down the aisle to marry you and that we have our little Willie." I sighed. He always got more depressed on 4/20 than any other day of the year but he just didn't realise that he had saved so many people.
Our reminiscing was interrupted by a delighted squeal from Willie. "Ma, da, come see, come see!" We couldn't help but indulge our little warrior, he stood proudly next to a sandcastle that looked a little like my parents cabin on the Ridge in the 1800s...
Jason met my grandpa before we were married. Unfortunately, granny died the year after Columbine, but grandda had met Jason and had thanked him for saving me. Grandda died 5 years after the shooting so he got to meet Willie. He almost cried when we told him his name; William Brian Reginald MacKenzie Halperin. And yes, this means that Jason can travel.
It's a good thing too, cause mama, daddy, and Jemmy decided to stay in the past. I don't think I could live without my family in the past.
"It looks great, son." Jason smiles at our son and then kisses the scar on my arm. My arm scar I'm not too bothered about but there's a sarong on my lower half as I'm too self conscious about the scar on my thigh.
"He will never know how we met...if he asks how we met what do we say?"
"half-truth, Mandy...we met at school...we don't want him scared." I know. I don't want him scared either but we do have a really inquisitive boy and he won't stop asking until he has the truth.
I sigh heavily, I will never forget that day and now my son may have to deal with it: "Oh Dhia! Mo ghille beag boched." Jason's looking at me and I realise I've slipped into Gaelic.
"English, Mandy." He chuckled and that felt good to hear, "Dos iz vi ikh redn eydish aoyf eykh!"
"Okay, okay." I'm chuckling now, I don't know what he said but he slipped into Yiddish as easily as I did Gaelic. "I get it, you can speak Yiddish!"
We sat back down and he looked at me, "I'll make you a deal...You teach me the language you were speaking, and I'll teach you Yiddish. Deal?" He held out a hand for me to shake but I wasn't going to take his wording lying down.
"First of all..."I feigned hurt at his words, "'that language' has a name. It's called 'Gaelic' and it's a beautiful, ancient, language of my ancestors that my grandpa taught me when I was younger. And then promptly forgot he taught me and started to swear in Gaelic." I was laughing through the sentence, partly at Jason and partly at the memory of me, aged 5 learning Gaelic and then grandda forgetting he was getting me to repeat what he said back to him and shouting out 'cac, am bugaire!' when he remembered he had left the stew for dinner on the fire. I obediently repeated what I heard and got a telling off, not a whipping as I had thought but because I was repeating not saying it myself. "And once you admit that Gaelic is just as important as Yiddish then we have a deal!" I grinned at Jason.
"You're right as usual, honey. Gaelic is just as important as Yiddish and that's why I want to learn how to speak it." He held out his hand for me to shake on the deal but I had a better idea. I kissed him gently. "Ah! Sealed with a loving kiss? Why didn't I think of that?"
"Um..."I pretended to think about it for a hot minute then replied, "Cause I'm awesome?"
The ride home in the car was great. We had stopped off for McDonalds and then Willie had fallen asleep in the car still clutching his happy meal toy. "tha gaol agam ort..." I whispered to Willie gently as Jason got him out of the car. He frowned at me. "First lesson, Jase. That means 'I love you'." Jason nodded his understanding and carried Willie up to bed and we taught each other loving phrases in each language until we fell asleep on the couch.