“This is Where It Ends”

Nancy Beston, Photo editor

I was wordless, anxious, and filled with dread after I read this story. A story about 54 minutes of what could be described as hell, in a place that is supposed to be safe. “This is Where it Ends” by Marieke Nijkamp is a story about how teenage students felt while sitting through a school shooting and watching their peers get massacred. The school is described so similar to mine. It’s the first day of school for the new freshman. It’s supposed to be exciting and a little stressful. Their biggest worry should have been whether or not they would find all of their classes in time or who they were going to eat lunch with. That was my biggest worry anyway on my first day.

Instead, they gathered in a gym of all their new peers. Nervous and anxious just like I had, just over a year ago. The difference between their story and mine is I left the gym and went to my first class of highschool, the stress wearing off throughout the day. However, some of these students wouldn’t be able to do the same thing I had done. A thing that I just take for granted everyday. They would never get the chance to attend their first high school class, or have open campus lunch, or take the SAT’s. Instead they get to struggle for their lives and hope someone would rescue them.

The poor freshman, unfortunately are not the only victims of this story. I had to put down the book when I began reading the same story but from the shooter’s sister’s prospective… Autumn. This part filled me with absolute agony because it made it more personal to me. Now my brain is wondering what it would be like if someone I loved was killing and hurting people in front of my eyes. When Autumn said, “But now Ty is here. My brother. My Tyler. His smile belies in a gun, and we’re all enthralled by it.” (page 58.) I could feel my heart physically drop, more than it had in the first part of the book because now Tyler, the shooter was being humanized. “Tyler” could be anyone we know and I think that’s what scares me.

Nijkamp can’t stop with the humanizing at the sister though. She brings the ex-girlfriend of Tyler into the story now. Fortunately, she is not in the gym. She decided to skip the assembly that morning to work on her running time. While she is running she sees her ex-boyfriends car, with the trunk popped up. He isn’t supposed to be back in town, in fact he broke up with her because he didn’t live in town anymore. She runs up to the car and sees her friend, dead. Here the author left me wordless once again, “I cannot accept that this is Ty’s doing. He believed in me when no one else did. He loved me.” (page 65) The ex-girlfriend then begins thinking about all of those time’s Tyler has talked about wanting everyone in that school dead and how much he hated them.

This time I start thinking about the shootings that have occurred this year. How each and every one of them could have been stopped if someone would have been paying attention. Knowing the signs. But they didn’t and I really hope that changes some day because no kid should have to go through the fear of getting an education under any circumstances.