Friday nights for high school teachers weren't meant to be sitting on the couch staring at the TV in an awkward silence. The two teachers were married and deeply in love yet no one could understand what was happening. The newscasters were reporting about a candlelight vigil that is held due to a school shooting. Alexander stared at the television but said nothing. Thomas cleared his throat trying to get his husband's attention.
Alexander did not move.
Thomas put his hand on his shoulder and his husband flinched away. He looked up at Thomas in fear, only to see him. His body relaxed slightly but Thomas motioned towards the TV. "We should be there." He said simply. Alexander looked at the television and saw students from all grades. Some were young and didn't know what had happened. Some freshman were there with there friends from middle school.
The freshmen were crying. The sophomores were crying. The juniors were crying.
The seniors, on the other hand, were blank-faced.
They stared at their candle and said a name out loud of someone of whom they missed or was currently in the hospital. A brown haired girl was shown next. Alexander's eyes widened, it was Elizabeth Schuyler, a teacher at the local high school for the district. She lit her candle and said, "Alexander Hamilton." He looked down-- why did she waste her name on him? He wasn't in the hospital. He wasn't dead.
Thomas looked over at his husband. He grabbed his hand and intertwined them. Alexander brought them up to his lips and kissed Thomas' softly. Thomas ignored the wetness that dripped onto his hand.
A week eariler -- It was A Lunch and Thomas and Alexander had another class. They shared C Lunch together. Thomas was currently teaching a History class and Alexander was teaching Creative Writing.
Alexander was sitting at his desk when he smelled fire. He furrowed his brows and got up quickly. He opened his door and saw someone wearing a hoodie. He went to call out for the student when he heard the click of the gun. He closed the door and quickly locked it. He said quietly to his class, needing to keep calm, "Students, I need all of you to go into lockdown mode immediately. This is not a drill." The students rose silently and hid behind Alexander's desk.
But it wasn't quick enough. As Alexander went to turn off the lights he heard the rapid gunfire from the classroom next doors. The students behind and under his desk froze in fear and Alexander ran over to cover them. The gunfire stopped. The students seemed to hold their breaths when the doorknob jiggled. It stopped. A mumble was heard and then a gunshot blew off the handle. The attacker went to the desk and shot at three of the students.
Screaming was heard above the gunshots when they stopped. The attacker froze and aimed the gun at Alexander. The attacker removed their hood, revealing Angelica Schuyler. She smiled whilst holding a gun. "Welcome to my hell, Alexander." And fired once at his chest.
And it went black.
But Thomas had a different scene. He heard the five dings on the intercom signalling an attacker was inside of the school. He locked the door and turned off the lights while his students hid from the door and windows. They talked in low whispers before sitting there for a long time. Thomas' classroom was on the third floor, as was his husband's. Only Alexander's was in the new wing of the high school.
The students sat there for what felt like hours, hearing sirens and rapid gunfire. The fire was also a common theme found in the air, and after two hours of waiting, a loud explosion was heard coming from the new wing of the school. Thomas held his breath while waiting for the signal that all was clear. Screaming was heard constantly. Students in his classroom were hugging each other. Thomas looked around at all the students.
One girl was crying silently into her arms. Thomas made his way over to her and brought her into his arms. Her long blonde hair covered most of her face and Thomas rubbed his hand up and down her back. He worried for his husband but he had to keep calm for his students.
The footsteps got closer and closer and until the door was unlocked. Thomas held his breath when his coworker, Angelica Schuyler, walked around the desk. She smiled at Thomas and offered her left hand towards him. He took it and she pulled him out of the way. He went to help the other students, but she blocked him. He went to question her, but she pulled her other hand out from her hoodie pocket. It was a normal .44 Magnum and shot a student in the head. Thomas lunged at her but she pushed him to the ground.
He groaned and Angelica shot two more students. She leaned over him and said, "Hope you're happy with your life," and walked out the door. He hoped up and kneeled over the students. Two of the three were shot in the head and already dead. The student who was shot in the chest was choking on the blood. Thomas placed his hands on the bullet wound. He went to say something but the student stopped choking. Their arms went limp and the crying in the classroom got louder.
When the safe signal went off after the final gunshot, Thomas made sure all of his students safely got out of the school. He ran to the new wing and saw a bunch of students surrounding his husband who was laying on the ground. He ran over and students moved out of his way. He saw blood around Alexander, who was unconscious. He took off his work shirt and placed it on the gunshot wound, only after feeling the pulse of his husband. It was faint but it was still there.
Alexander was still here with Thomas.
It had been twenty years since the shooting. There was a memorial later that night, but for the remaining daylight, they were guest speakers. They had substitutes carrying out all of their classes today, as they were speaking to each grade individually. They started with the freshman class.
The principal introduced them and Alexander and Thomas walked up onto the stage. It wasn't actually their idea. It was the new principal's idea. He wanted kids to know more about our past so it doesn't happen again. The kids today didn't even take a moment of silence on September 11th anymore. It wasn't for remembering and getting hung up on such a sad day. It was more so that students know their past and understand it all.
"Hey, guys! Some of you may know me. I'm Alexander Hamilton and I'm a teacher here. I teach twelve grade English and Creative Writing. My husband here, Thomas Jefferson, he teaches tenth-grade history and law. He used to teach AP US Gov. Questions are welcome at any time today, as we're going to be talking about a lot of different topics." One girl's hand shot up and she said, "If you're married, why don't you two have the same last name?"
Thomas took his turn to talk and said, "He's just stubborn and doesn't want to take my last name, even after twenty-five years of marriage." Alexander shrugged shyly and said, "I don't know; I kinda like my last name. I wanted to keep it." Thomas just nodded along.
"Anyway, most of you kiddos know what today is," Alexander said. Thomas nodded sadly and added, "We're here to talk to you guys about it." Thomas got the slideshow clicker out of his pocket and clicked to the first slide. It held a picture of them at their wedding, a picture of them on their first day of work together, and a photo of young Alexander with his mother. There was also a picture of Thomas with his whole family.
Thomas looked back behind him and scanned the pictures on the screen. Alexander started talking, "If you look at the screen, you can see Thomas and me at our wedding." He pointed to the picture of them in their suits. He continued, "Now, we did get married really young. We met each other in our first year of college, dated for about two years, and then got married. We were twenty when we got married."
"Both of us were risk takers. We wanted to see how long this would last since everyone thought we hated each other. We were definitely in love, no doubt about that, we just wanted to test the waters. Needless to say, my parents were pissed." Thomas said with a chuckle at the end.
Thomas pointed at the picture of his family, "That's the whole Jefferson gang back when I was about fifteen. I was your age and I had a pretty big family. I was the third oldest and I had ten other siblings." This was the goal. Get them interested in the family life and then talk about the shooting. 'You got to give them the backstory, first!' is what the principal said to do.
"I had six sisters; Lucy, Jane, Martha, Anna, Mary, and Elizabeth. I also had three biological brothers; Randolph, Peter Field, and Peter Thomas. And then my one adopted brother: Thomas Mann Jefferson. My parents were Jane and Peter Jefferson. We really liked the names Thomas, Peter and Jane apparently." The room laughed a bit, and now it was Alexander's turn.
Alexander looked at the picture and pointed at it. He said, "I was eleven in that photo. It was taken at the beach, on an island in the Caribbean." A boy called out, "You went to the Caribbean for a vacation?" Alexander gave a sad chuckle and said, "No, I didn't."
He paused and took a breath, he didn't even like telling Thomas about this. "I was born on an island called St. Kitts and Nevis. It's about 950 miles from Jamacia. I also have an older brother named James but I couldn't find the picture of us. My dad left when I was ten, and this is the most recent photo I'll ever have with my mother. It was August, and I got sick around late December. I was sick for my birthday, and I got my mother sick, but she told me she didn't care. That she would be fine."
Thomas put his hand on his husband's shoulder and rubbed it softly. Alexander went on, "It was about mid-February, the 19th actually, when I was laying in bed with my mother. Now, keep in mind, my father left, leaving my family broke. We couldn't afford medicine, and doctors weren't as common as they are here and now in America. It was about dinner time when I felt slightly better than I had in a few days. I sat up on the bed and James had to hand feed me."
He looked at the kids who seemed like they were actually interested in Alexander's story. "My mother wasn't feeling better. She was feeling worse than normal. After dinner, which I managed to hold down, I started to fall asleep with her. I laid my head on her chest and I felt her whisper out that she loved me and James. Her breathing slowly stopped and I felt her heartbeat stop. I called James out, and we both laid in bed with her."
Alexander wiped his eyes to stop the tears that were planning to fall. He laughed a bit and added, "I kept my last name because it's the only thing I really have from my past life." Thomas clicked to the next slide that held many pictures with their friends and themselves. Thomas wrapped his arms from behind Alexander as that was the best way to comfort him. Alex put the microphone to up his husband, who spoke, "These are us with our friends. You can probably see Mr Lafayette in quite a few of these."
Alexander added, "Thomas and he were friends in college and he introduced me to Laf. We instantly clicked. All three of us were fluent in French, so that was pretty fun. Lafayette was a new immigrant and wasn't fully fluent in English yet. Thomas and I taught him." Thomas commented, "He's actually right back there," He removed one of his hands from Alexander and pointed to the back of the room.
The group of kids turned to look at him and Lafayette smiled whilst waving at them. The kids turned back to the front of the room and Alexander said, "You can also see Ms Eliza up there." One kid raised their hand and Thomas motioned for him to speak, "Why do I always hear about this Ms Eliza person when people talk about the event?" Alexander smiled sadly and said, "We'll get to that in a moment." The kid nodded.
"Ms Eliza was a geometry and algebra teacher here. After the shooting, she only went by Ms Eliza. One year after the shooting, she quit. She moved to Philadelphia and changed her last name to Hamilton." Some kid in the back asked why and Thomas clicked to the next slide. It was the two of them at a pool party with Angelica Schuyler in the middle of them.
Thomas pointed up to the screen and said, "You see that woman? Her name is Ms Angelica Schuyler. She was the shooter." The crowd went deadly silent. Thomas nodded and said, "Yes, we knew her. Yes, we were friends with her. No, we did not see it coming." Thomas took a breath and said, "She was a chemistry teacher here."
Alexander replied, "Eliza and Angelica were sisters. They both worked here and the weight was too much on Eliza's shoulders. She took the rest of the year off and came back as Ms Eliza, not Ms Schuyler. Everyone here knew Ms Schuyler as Angelica, not Eliza. So, she somehow made it through that year, which was hell for her, and came up to me. She begged and begged-- She needed an escape. She asked if she could change her last name to Hamilton. Everyone in New York knew the last name Schuyler."
He took a breath, "I agreed, I saw her fall apart. Her sister ruined her and her life. She ripped her from her happiness, her piece of mind, and her friends. She ran away to Philadelphia, changed her last name to Hamilton and started teaching at a school right outside the city. She's happy now and both of us still keep in contact."
Thomas clicked to the next slide and up was a picture of Angelica, Eliza and one unknown girl. Thomas looked up and saw her. She was younger than the other two of them. "The shooting destroyed the Schuyler family. No one knows why Angelica did so, they only knew that she did. That other girl, she's the younger sister. Her name is Margarita, but she goes by Peggy. She was living in Washington DC at the time of the shooting."
Alexander smiled, "Peggy was like the younger sister I never had. Angelica was twenty-eight when she shot up the school. Eliza was twenty-five, just like Thomas and I. Peggy was twenty and in college still. She also changed her name. The shooting made history across the nation. She legally changed her name to Peggy Jefferson, which Thomas agreed to. We knew they needed a fresh start. At least now, they couldn't fall away from us. We signed some papers and said that we agreed to such, and we stated why. It was approved and Margarita Schuyler was now Peggy Jefferson."
Thomas clicked to the next slide and it held a photo of Eliza, Alexander, Peggy, Lafayette and himself. They were smiling while standing in front of the school. And that was the photo that went viral after the incident. It was shown on news channels across the states. It was also framed in the school and it was one of the first things you saw when you walked into the building, It showed that the five of them came out to be okay. But, if you looked close enough, you can see Eliza's fake smile, the tears in Peggy's eyes, Lafayette leaning mostly on his left foot as his right leg had a huge contraption on it, Thomas practically holding Alexander up, and Alexander holding his side in pain.
"This is the five of us. Peggy came up to New York for the one-month anniversary and to help her sister mourn. Lafayette stayed with us for about two months after the shooting and Peggy shared Eliza's apartment. Warning, the next few parts get graphic," Alexander said. Thomas clicked to the next slide. It showed pictures of the actual shooting. The blood, the stray bullets, the blurred out dead bodies. The students all looked at the photos, their minds in deep thought. After a minute or so, Thomas clicked to the next slide.
It showed a picture of Alexander laying on the floor, blood soaking his work shirt. Thomas was shirtless, crying and holding down his shirt onto the bullet wound on Alexander's chest. The younger's eyes were closed and Thomas had a free hand on his cheek. Alexander's face was smeared with blood and it looked like Thomas was trying to wipe some of it off.
Next slide; It had Thomas carrying Alexander out of the school with a group of students following him. One had given Thomas their sweatshirt as it was late February at the time. Alexander's eyes were still closed, and a few students also had smeared blood on their clothes and faces. One girl's blonde hair had parts of dark red in it, staining it for a time until she cut it off.
Alexander took a deep breath and said, "Angelica shot me. She got me and the bullet shattered two of my ribs. It tore through my lung, and luckily I was hit on my right side." Thomas added, "Out of the five of us, or four of us there, Alexander wasn't the only one to get shot. Mr Lafayette did as well."
Some of the kids turned back to look at the French teacher who smiled sadly. Thomas motioned him up and he began to walk slowly to the front of the auditorium. He walked with a limp on his right side, and it got better the longer he walked, which was weird. He got to the steps and Alexander quickly helped him up.
Alexander said, "We got his permission to use these pictures. Warning, they're graphic. Look away if you must." Thomas clicked to the next slide and it showed Lafayette surrounded by seniors in his classroom. There was a pile of blood surrounding the teacher. On the ground behind Lafayette was a student that was slumped over, two girls surrounding her. Her face was blurred out but the other girls were crying.
Thomas went to the next slide. It showed Eliza carrying Lafayette out of the classroom, with another student's help. That photo-- along with the five of them-- went viral. It showed that it wasn't just the students who died that day. Teachers were shot for no reason. Angelica went to shoot at Lafayette's abdomen, but something jammed in the gun. The bullet finally released, which was a delayed reaction and hit Lafayette's shin.
"That day, we had twenty-four deaths. Fifty injuries. If you know anything about this shooting, then I'm pretty sure you know it's not just a shooting." Some students nodded while others looked lost at Alexander's words. Lafayette motioned for the microphone.
He spoke with his French accent thick like always, "We do not know how Angelica did it all alone, but she did. She did so much damage because of how she tricked me. She went around like a teacher who wanted to help students after planting the bombs and starting the fires. She got the main teacher out of the way and then shot some students. She pushed the teacher down, or she hurt them and ran. The cops thought she was just a teacher who worked there. She finally ended the whole hour long massacre by shooting herself."
Thomas looked over at the plaque. It had all the names of the dead on there. Seven teachers, seventeen students. On the other plaque next to it, it had two rows of twenty-five names. If Thomas was close enough, he would have been able to read Alexander and Lafayette's names on the injured list. If he read the names of the dead, he would see three of his at-the-time current students, two who were past students of his.
Lafayette continued, "Look up, you see these lights?" The students looked up. They heard there was a story involving the twenty-four starred lights. They were different colours. They represented the ones who died. Blue was for the freshmen who died, red for the sophomores, green for the juniors and yellow for the seniors. Yellow was the brightest. The seniors were going to leave this place but they stuck around here.
"They represent all the students who passed away. Each colour represents a different grade here at the high. We lost four freshmen, five sophomores, five juniors and three seniors. We also lost seven teachers that day, who are the purple stars. Technically, we had twenty-five deaths that day, but we do not include Angelica Schuyler in our count." Thomas nodded and pointed to the plaque. He got the microphone from Lafayette. He walked over and walked down the steps.
He read over the names and said, "Three of these students, I was currently teaching them at the time of the attack. They died in my classroom. Two of 'em, I taught the previous year. Now, you look at the plaque next to it, you see fifty names. These people were all shot or put in the hospital due to the shooting, fire, or explosion. If you search, you'll see the teachers' names at the start of it. If you read the names, you'll see Alexander and Lafayette's names up here."
Students looked at the bronze plaque, and now knew the backstory of the names engraved. Thomas finished up by saying, "People around the nation knew the shooting as The Teacher Massacre. Teachers from all age groups died or got hurt on February 25th." Thomas walked back up the stage and clicked to the next slide. It showed Alexander in the hospital with a gown on. Flowers and cards surrounded him. Thomas sat at his left and was holding his hand.
Alexander grabbed the microphone and said, "I was in the hospital for about six days, but I had bi-weekly check-ups. Whenever I felt out of breath I had to use an inhaler. I couldn't walk up flights of stairs, run, walk for long periods of time or even talk a lot." He chuckled and said, "And it was really hard. I had to keep my sentences short and directly to the point for about six months until my lung got better."
Thomas clicked to the next slide and it showed Lafayette in the hospital, only he was awake. Thomas and Peggy were on either side of him and Lafayette was smiling. He gave two thumbs up towards the camera and the other two just smiled. Alexander said, "This photo was taken three days after the shooting. How Lafayette managed to smile and give a thumbs up that soon after the incident-- we'll never know."
Next slide was split into two, or at least there were two photos on it. One was Alexander with Thomas sitting in a classroom. Alexander had a bulky brace around his chest under his shirt, sitting on a student desk but was smiling at the camera. Thomas was smiling at Alexander. The other photo was a candid photo of Lafayette and Eliza. She was holding his crutches away from him and smiling. Lafayette was smiling fondly but reaching out for the crutches while he was leaning more on his left leg. They were also in a school but it was in the gym and not in a classroom.
Alexander looked at the photos and smiled. He added as more so an afterthought, "These pictures were taken a month and a half after the attack." Thomas clicked to the next slide and realised they were nearing the end. It showed a photo of the five of them on the one-year anniversary. They were lined up shortest to tallest-- Peggy, Alexander, Eliza, Lafayette and Thomas. They all held a candle and were looking. Thomas grabbed the microphone and said, "I'm pretty sure the principal took the photo. It was at the one-year anniversary, which was honoured with a candle-light vigil, just like the one-week memorial was."
Thomas clicked to the second to last slide and it showed Alexander's chest and Lafayette's foot. It showed the scars. Alexander's skin was white on the small circle and slightly red around the wound. There was also a deeper scar around his chest, near his pectoral. You could see him raising his shirt on his right side with a big smile on his face. He looked above the camera lens, almost as if he was smiling at the person taking the photo.
Lafayette's photo was just him with his jeans rolled up slightly and socks and shoes off. His whole body was in the frame but the focus was on his foot. You could see the same colouring on Lafayette's foot that was one Alexander's chest. There was also some deeper scars around the wound and seemingly almost all over his foot, leading up towards his ankle and shin.
Thomas said, "Lafayette had lots of complications with his bullet wound. There are twenty-six bones in one foot alone, and the bullet shattered six of them. He was on crutches for about a year. They attempted surgery to fix a few of the muscles and tissues, but they ended up pinching a few nerves. One of those nerves severely hurt his ankle, resulting in three more surgeries and lots of physical therapy. This is why you saw Lafayette wearing that huge contraption on his leg and not just his foot and ankle."
Alexander smiled at his husband and locked his hands behind his back. He glanced over at Lafayette who was also smiling at Thomas. The older of the two looked at them and said, "What?" Alexander smiled fondly and just shook his head. Lafayette did the same, only said quietly, "Nothing."
Thomas shook his head and smiled. He clicked to the last slide, which was a picture of the five of them. Thomas glanced at the photograph and said with a fond smile, adding, "This is the most recent photo of us. This was taken yesterday morning. Eliza and Peggy are currently in town for the twentieth anniversary. They were asked to speak but they politely declined. You may see them at the school tonight for the memorial. Peggy said she would be here, but Eliza is still on the fence. She doesn't like to come in the building."
Lafayette motioned for the microphone and it was passed down their little line. He raised it up to his lips and said, "If you see Eliza tonight, please do not talk to her. I am in no ways trying to sound rude; she just doesn't like to talk to people on this day, unless it's one of us. We're going to try to convince her to come, but understand if she is not here. Thank you." Lafayette handed the microphone back to Alexander who finished up the assembly.
"Thank you to all who stayed throughout and were attentive. We hope you learned more about the massacre and we hope you understood it more through a first-hand experience. Thank you for your time." He clicked the switch that turned it off and the students started clapping. The principal wrapped up the assembly and Thomas hugged Alexander. They broke the hug and Thomas hugged Lafayette tightly. When they went to pull away, Alexander crashed into Lafayette's arms, and the Frenchman somehow brought Thomas into the hug as well.
They would all be okay.