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At the bottom of the page, she’d drawn herself in a pink dress standing next to a bespectacled Jacob, who appeared about half her height. “I love you!” she added beside a red heart. After the shooting, Ava realized she’d forgotten to give Jacob the letter and crumpled it into a plastic bin in her bedroom. Now she was at his funeral. “He’s not really dead, is he?” she whispered to her mother. “Yes,” Mary Olsen told her. “He is.”. Jacob’s family had asked that people attending the service dress like superheroes because of the boy’s infatuation with them. Ava wore a Ninja Turtles top with a purple cape. Siena and Collin, who was still in a wheelchair, both dressed as Captain America.
Karson had also come, his shirt displaying a “J” within a Superman logo, But he’d hesitated in the parking lot, “Mama, that looks like that boy’s truck, Is he here?” Karson had asked, motioning toward a dark pickup, From their seats, the children listened to the same pastor who presided at the funeral for Jesse’s father three days earlier, They watched as, midway through the service, Jacob’s mom staggered to his casket, how to make pointe shoes more comfortable then collapsed to the floor, They stared as his body was wheeled up the center aisle at the end of the memorial..
Then, just hours after their friend’s funeral, they returned for the first time to the place he’d been shot. The school, scheduled to resume classes the next day, hosted an open house that afternoon. No one knew how the kids would react, but Fredericks, the principal, believed the small step of a brief return might help with the big step of a permanent one. In Townville, where nearly 7 in 10 of the school’s students live in poverty, it wasn’t viable to construct a new building or bus them elsewhere.
They had to go back, When they did that afternoon, some kids even how to make pointe shoes more comfortable returned to the playground, Collin rolled out on his light blue medical scooter, Siena climbed a play set, But Ava lingered behind with her mom, “Please don’t make me go out there again,” Ava said, before they eased onto the sidewalk, holding hands, With each step, the girl’s fingernails dug deeper into her mother’s skin, “What if he gets out?” Siena asked her parents in the days after the shooting, Then she never stopped asking..
They explained that Jesse was in jail, that she was safe. But still, Siena obsessed over him coming for her again. Next to a sign beside her top bunk that read “Night, Night, Sweet Pea – Sweet Dreams,” she relived the shooting in her nightmares. Fredericks and her staff did all they could think of to ease the kids’ dread on that first full day back, Oct. 6, when all but 10 students showed up for class. They were welcomed by uniformed officers, therapy dogs, volunteers in superhero costumes, more than 20 counselors, a line of signs – “Have a Great Day at School!” – in the parking lot.
For Siena, though, each morning included a negotiation with her how to make pointe shoes more comfortable parents, “I don’t want to go to school today,” she would say, “I don’t feel good.”, At drop-off, she would search the parking lot for the cruiser of the police officer assigned to Townville Elementary after the shooting, She needed to know he was there, One day, Siena announced to her mother, Marylea, that she couldn’t go to summer camp anymore: “They don’t have a police officer.”..
Like many of her classmates, loud, unexpected sounds petrified her. Once, outside a Publix supermarket, a car backfired, and she dropped to the ground before dashing inside. Another time, after a balloon popped at a school dance, the entire gymnasium went silent as the principal rushed to turn the lights on. Fredericks later banned balloons at the spring festival. “Noises are different now,” she said. Siena and her friends began carrying stuffed animals as a form of protection. In those first days back at school, she would slip a tiny pink teddy bear named Lovie into her pocket and squeeze it when she walked onto the playground.
Even at home, she’d lost her sense of security, Siena, whose mom is earning a master’s degree at Clemson and whose dad runs a business, lives on a peaceful cul-de-sac in a two-story house that overlooks a lake, Siena would deadbolt the front how to make pointe shoes more comfortable door when no one was looking, and at the sight of unfamiliar cars, she’d scurry inside, One afternoon, she stood in her bedroom as Marylea ran her fingers through the girl’s shoulder-length brown hair, Siena again thought of Jesse as her dark eyes fixed on a pink heart taped to the wall..