His spelling and handwriting were atrocious. His test scores were so low it seemed he was going out of his way to get the answers wrong. But somehow I knew this kid was different. He had this way of knowing when things were going to happen. Whenever he said that there was a storm coming, it came. He always knew the price of movie tickets without even asking. Yeah, weird right?
One time he predicted that Mrs. Paige would have a baby girl, and the next week Mrs. Paige announced that she was pregnant. And sure enough, 9 months later a healthy baby girl was born. They named her Berta after him. His name was Herbert. Yes, Herbert was a slightly odd boy. I should know, I’m his English teacher. One day after handing Herbert his report card with a big “F” on it, as usual, he froze. Suddenly, he fell to the floor and burst into tears. Under his breath, I could hear him mumbling about warning everyone.
“Herbert, whatever is the matter?”
I asked, slightly scared. Whenever Herbert cried it meant that something really terrible was about to happen. As suddenly as he started, Herbert stopped crying and stood up.
“We need to get out of here. Now!”
He yelled, pushing and yelling at everyone to get out of the 8th-grade classroom. I noticed that he left his report card on the table. When we got outside of the building, confused but trusting Herbert’s instincts, he rushed back in to warn the others. Then it started. A gunshot rang out. Students screamed. Alarms sounded, and another gunshot rang out. People began streaming out of the school in panic. I lead my students to a safe place. That day Herbert saved my life.
There were four victims of the shooting.
Herbert was one of them.
At the memorial service held at the school a few days later, I stated, “His spelling and handwriting were atrocious. His test scores were so low it seemed he was going out of his way to get the answers wrong. But somehow I knew Herbert was different.”