Word Count 499
A Reckless Moment
By G. Ackman
“I do, your Honor.”
Marshall stood beside his lawyer and looked the judge directly in the eye.
“All right, then. I sentence you to eighteen months in jail, with credit for the eight weeks you have already served.”
Marshall grasped the edge of the table to steady himself and willed his eyes not to water. He could hear his mother’s soft crying behind him but dared not look at her. His lawyer had assured them that he would only get community service. He was a straight-A student, a starter on the football team, had his whole life ahead of him. But now…
It had been a stupid thing to do. Marshall knew it at the time, but did it anyway. Isn’t that the definition of a teenager? It was harmless, they all said. No one will ever know, they said. Everybody does it, they said. Fueled by the beers that he didn’t usually drink, Marshall had given in to their urgings and gone along with it. “Yeah,” he had drawled. “Let’s scare her a little.”
After all, she was threatening to give him a failing grade on his research paper, just because she thought it was a “little too much like the websites.” It’s not like those words were patented or anything, and what if he had relied on some copy and paste. It was her fault. She had assigned the paper over the same time as the All-Star Game. If she gave him a zero, it would mean the end of his 4.0 average and her allegation of his cheating would jeopardize his scholarship to the state university in Champaign. He had no intention of harming anyone. Just a little fun.
They drove out to her house that night after drinking around the campfire in Clayton’s backyard. The talk had turned to Ms. Johnson and what she was doing to Marshall. Somebody suggested they make her think what happened when she messed with the football team, and from there it just got out of hand.
One reckless action, one shot fired at her house. It was just supposed to make a loud noise, maybe ding the siding a bit. But with the accurate aim of one who is not intending to hit anything, the bullet found a window, shattered the glass, and grazed Ms. Johnson’s forehead as she bent over her nightstand to pick up her book to read before bed. Thank god the window had slowed the velocity down or she could have been killed.
That’s what the judge had asked him. If he knew what could have happened. Marshall did, and he also knew it wasn’t his teammates fault. It was his. He caused this by reacting instead of thinking. Now he wouldn’t graduate with his class. College was probably not going to happen because getting a scholarship was unlikely. One stupid mistake and his whole life turned upside down. Reckless? No, it wasn’t reckless. It was vengeful, spiteful, and mean – and it wrecked his life.