I was sleeping when I heard a small sobbing sound from my left, turning and opening ma eyes I saw Mandy. "Yer leg botherin ye lass? Or yer arm? I could wake yer granny..." she shook her head and looked at me.
"I just need a cuddle, grandda." There's tears streaming down her face. I get out of bed; my auld, well-worked joints creaking, and move over to the table wi her. She sobs on my shoulder. "I can't believe I did nothing. I just lay there..." Now it was pouring outta her, and I'm no sure she could stop it even if she wanted to. "They came into the library, with guns, and they started shooting...Keith first..." she looked up at me. "He didn't understand that he needed to hide...he was sweet and caring, and they...they just shot him like he was an animal they were hunting." My teeth are clenched, it was getting harder, and harder to keep the promise I made to Claire before bed last night. "Then they started shooting under the tables...there was a boy I liked, Steve, we had a few classes together and I was sure he was going to ask me to the prom...they shot him dead. Him and Marcus...then they came to my desk and said 'peekaboo' like it was some twisted game and started to taunt me because I'd wet myself after they shot Keith. Then the bigger one shot me in the leg. Then taunted me some more when I started begging. Then shot my arm." she cuddled into me tighter and I gripped her shoulder a little tighter but not tight enough to hurt her arm. "They shot more people before leaving and that's when we got out through the windows." I sigh a little knowing she didna need to be subjected to that for long even if the little she was subjected to had her weeping in my arms. "Jason helped me out the window...a friend from history class. I'm so grateful to him." I was grateful too. "after that, it was a hospital, my family, the stones, my family, and now this." She had stopped crying, thank the Lord above.
"Ye dinna need to say if ye dinna want tae, nor if ye dinna know, but what happened to the two boys?" I needed to know so I could be sure they'd never hurt her nor any of my family again, if they could neither she, nor Jem, or Roger, or my Brianna for that matter, would be going back to that time.
"From what's been reported they went back to the cafeteria and shot at police before shooting themselves. They're dead too." Mandy sighed in relief, "I knew one of them...he was bullied by a group of 'jocks'...meatheads really..."I didnae ken what a 'meathead' was but I gather it wasna any good. "his name was 'Luke', he was actually really kind, but I guess he found someone to stand up for him who wasn't as kind as he was...or used to be..." she let out a breath. "He said that he was sorry it had to happen to me but that it had to happen...I don't understand grandda, why would he say that?"
"I dinna ken, mo chailin milis. I didna ken." I kissed the top of her head, my sweet baby that I had held in my arms on the day she was born, here she was; heartsick over this 'Steve' and his death. "Tell me more about this 'prom' that Steve was gonna ask ye to." She smiled dreamily.
"It's a formal dance that the school throws every year, and as a junior it would be my first time." She grinned. "I had already seen the dress I was going to buy." She sat up and started excitedly describing it to me; "It's this floor length, deep purple, polyester-type fabric, it had a matching shawl, and purse, and everything." She grinned. "All I needed was for someone to ask me to prom."
"Is this the done thing? The lad asking the lassie? I mean, is it all proper?" Mandy blushed and looked down, "Dinna tell me ye dinna ha' a chaperone..."
"oh, no. Nothing like that. Teachers and volunteer parents act as chaperones." She breathed in a little as though she were gonna tell me a damned curse. "But a lot of couples sneak away from the chaperones and..." She hesitated, this really must be bad. "They have sex on prom night...for some girls it's losing their virginity, for some it's getting an STD, for some still it's getting pregnant..." She looked up at my horrified face. "Not that I was gonna do that with Steve..."
"Disna matter, I dinna think I would let you go to this...whoor-fest it turns out to be." I shake my head, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. "Girls gieing away their virtue and fer what? Tae get so sick they die? Or to end up wi a bairn and no man tae show fer it." I felt sick. Mandy laughed, honest to God, I didnae know why she was laughing so. "What?"
"You, grandda, you get so cute when you're angry." She tried to pinch my cheek withering stare I was giving her be hanged. "but some girls want a baby young."
"Dia Math!" I exclaimed, "They shouldna want such a thing. Gun phòsadh mar a tha iad!" She laughed even harder.
"So it's not their age you disapprove of, it's their marital status?"
I had forgotten she had the Gaelic.
"Tha Prom dha-riribh na am sporsail dha caileagan mar mise!" She recited, ah! So this conversation was to take place in my native tongue, was it?
"Caileagan mar thu fheign?" I asked, curiously.
"Yeah, girls who just want to dance and have a good time with a guy and some friends." She slipped in and out of Gaelic with ease I noted.
"Tha goal agam ort, air an ogha agam." I kissed the top of her head again.
"I love you too, Grandpa." She replied with a yawn. "Am foad mi cadal comhla ruit agus a sheanmhair?" Her request was so pure I couldna deny it.
"Aye, that ye can, my darling." I picked her up and carried her to the bed where she curled up between myself and Claire. And not another nightmare was had that night.