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It Takes One Second

It Takes One Second
Emma O’Neil (Ireland)

All it takes is one second… Just one second for your life to flip, for your path to be broken and your faith to come to an unexpected dead end.

The sight of the Smith & Wesson spiked an unknown fear, in me and hundreds around me. When realization hit and reality kicked in, we found ourselves lost and confused in a situation we never anticipated. The only thing worse than the presence of the gun was the expressionless façade of its master.


Frightened faces flew past me, desperate to escape the scene. His eyes sparkled with satisfaction as they skimmed over the chaos he created. His lips curled to reveal a foul pleasure as the sound of their screams echoed through the gym.

I stood beneath the hoop, frozen. I watched the lead bullets slice through the screams, only to land on innocent bodies, many of which I recognized.

I could feel my sanity slipping away as I watched the casings fly and bodies drop.

The walls were spattered and dark crimson rivers flowed beneath me in a pattern resembling the Mississippi Basin. He turned to face me, there was no sign of recognition in his face.


When our eyes met I expected him to be reminded of everything, from the moment we met to the moment we drifted apart.

I wanted his bright blue eyes to remember me and the times we spent together. Those were good times. They were.

Before the accident, we used to dream of leaving behind our desolate neighborhood for a better life. We aimed for a lively landscape full of towering skyscrapers, a place where the city lights would surround us with their intimate glow.

We planned our future before it all changed. Before he changed. I wanted him to be reminded of what it was like before that part of him died, yet, his eyes dimmed to a deep shade of grey.

I figured, that if I stared hard enough, the guy I used to love would resurface.

I couldn’t have been more wrong

Beneath his vacant visage there was darkness.

This is what the pills did to him, they crumbled his state of mind to a point beyond repair. Our schoolmates, those who could, scattered to reveal a clear path between him and me. The only obstacle that stood between us was the rifle… and his intentions.


The powerful stench of bodily fluids hung in the air around me, it was so thick, I could feel myself breathing it in, it mixing with the panic and fear accumulating inside of me. Our eyes silently scanned each other, I noticed the light catching on the scars, just barely visible beneath his long sleeve. I watched his index dancing over the trigger, my cold feet still remained frozen to the floor. For one second, his finger lightly hovered over the trigger and I saw him hesitate.

It takes one second, and in that second, you can change everything