Pop! Pop!

at 11:35 PM

Pop! pop!

I hear gunshots and screeching wheels.

"Eric was shot! Eric was shot!"

"Don't play with me," I said. He is shot, he is my closest friend, and this is where the story begins. This is Oakland, the place I was born and raised, a city where I hear gunshots and police sirens almost every night.

I wake up in my dark room and turn on the TV. The glowing light helps me to see where I'm going. On the TV, I see another murder story. It's time for me to make a change; to stop the violence by picking up a pencil instead of a pistol, to grab a backpack instead of a colored bandana. I'll start dressing formally instead of sagging my pants. This is what my friend would want.

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Now I see right from wrong. I have to stop daydreaming. I have to graduate and go to college. I want to become a game designer and share my passions for art and music. I don't want to fill a prison cell: instead I plan to make the honor roll.

My friend, who was shot, was my role model and I want to follow in his footsteps. Except, I want to graduate and walk the stage instead of hearing someone saying "Dead Man Walking." This is a dream I need to achieve, to become a leader for the newest video game, not for some gang. I want to get on a plane for a business trip, instead of going nowhere in life.

My promise to my friend was to carry on his name, in not only my poetry and my art, but in how I act.

With a Perspective, I'm Alex Martinez.

Alex Martinez is 16 and attends The Life Academy of Health and Biosciences High School in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.