Bloody Scissors

The urgent call came over the radio: “Ms. Laursen, please report to room 1106 immediately!” I took off running and arrived at the classroom out of breath but within three minutes.

The classroom door was slightly ajar and the teacher stood in the hallway speaking in hushed tones to an administrator. As I approached the pair, I could see that the teacher was in tears and breathing hard. Her hand rested on her chest as she tried to will herself to slow down and breathe.

The incident had lasted less than a minute but it had left a lasting impression on a stunned teacher and 27 shocked 9th graders.

Class had started as it does every day. Ms. Lopez greeted everyone and then took attendance. They were one student short. But since William’s attendance had been spotty lately, it was not of great concern. Moving on to the day’s lesson plan, Ms. Lopez instructed the class to read chapter 3 of their current novel and then they would discuss it.

The teacher had returned to her desk where she began writing a note when the door burst open. In strode the missing student. William walked purposefully to the teacher’s desk. His left forearm was exposed and bloody. In his right hand he clutched a pair of scissors; they were held high and pointing downward as if to attack. Blood dripped from the scissor blades to the classroom floor just as it dripped from the his left arm.

He reached the teacher’s side before she could react. Later she would say that she froze; there was not a thought in her head – only the body’s reaction to what appeared to be an imminent threat.

Unusually tall for a freshman, William came to a stop right next to Ms. Lopez and he towered over her with the bloody scissors held above her head. He spoke calmly, “I think I need to see the nurse.” Recovering her senses, she ordered him to leave the room. To her surprise he complied. She quickly followed him to the door directing another student to call security right away.

Just outside of the classroom she was able to persuade the boy to release the scissors which she quickly tossed through the open doorway onto the classroom floor. In a matter-of-fact tone he told her that had stolen the scissors from his first hour teacher. “Why would you do that, William?”, she asked. Emotionless, he replied, “Because they were lying there.”

Scissors in hand he had walked straight to the rest room during the passing period. There he proceeded to carve up his left forearm. This wasn’t the first or even the fourth time William had cut himself severely. And just two weeks prior to today’s incident he had added a new behavior to this repertoire; he had darted out directly into the path of an oncoming school bus. Luckily for William, his timing was off and the bus missed him. That episode led to his being sent to a lockdown facility for 10 days, but he had been released on Monday night of this week… less than 48 hours ago. As they signed him out of the facility, his parents were reassured that he was stable now.. no longer a danger to himself or others.

By the time I reached the classroom William was en route to the health office where his wounds would be treated. His parents would be called to come get him.

Sending the teacher off to regain her composure, I entered the silent classroom to see that 27 pairs of eyes were riveted on me. There wasn’t a sound… until I began to speak inviting them to begin to process the shocking incident they had just witnessed. Two girls began to weep… Three others described step by step what they had just seen… A boy mentioned that he and three others in the class had been on the bus two weeks ago when William ran out in front of that vehicle loaded with students. They had seen his face on that morning… and now they were remembering that scene all too vividly as they also processed the image of William holding the bloody scissors over their teacher’s head..

Before the day was over more than 15 of the 27 freshmen in the class had found their way to the counseling office. More will be seen tomorrow.

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