Aalayah Eastmond used a dead classmate to shield herself from a school shooter's bullets.
As the gunman fired his AR-15 rifle, she assumed she would die and prayed that a bullet would go through her brain so she wouldn't suffer.
Eastmond will relay the horror of gun violence during a congressional hearing Wednesday. Almost a year later, the trauma of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School grips her every day.
The 17-year-old senior at Stoneman Douglas said she wants to use the platform she has to highlight that gun violence extends far beyond school shootings like the one that killed 17 people in Parkland. It shatters thousands of lives every year in inner-city America, an issue that Eastmond thinks hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Eastmond's uncle died in a shooting in Brooklyn when he was only 18.
"Trauma from gun violence is trauma period," she said. "Their stories I put right next to my story. Just because it wasn't in a classroom doesn't mean their story is less important than my story."
A tiny fraction of gun violence deaths happen in mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In 2018, of the 14,657 gun deaths, 340 were classified as occurring as a result of mass shootings, according to the organization that tracks gun violence in America.
"Let's talk about Detroit," Eastmond said. "Let's talk about New York, Chicago and Alabama. They deal with it more than we ever have to. We had that shooting one day, and they have it every day in their streets."
The Democratic-controlled U.S. House will turn its attention to gun violence this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew attention to the issue by inviting Parkland parent Fred Guttenberg as her guest to the State of the Union address. Guttenberg, a gun control supporter, lost his daughter Jaime in the massacre.
The meeting on Wednesday marks the first time in nearly a decade the House has held a hearing on the issue of gun violence prevention, said U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who is chairing the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
One bill would require background checks for all gun sales and transfers. A bill sponsored by Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio would provide federal funds to help states enact "red-flag laws" that make it easier for law enforcement to seize guns from dangerous people.
Eastmond said she plans to continue telling her story and calling for action. In September, she testified at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing.
She told senators how she thought the loud pops of gunfire were a senior prank. She recalled seeing blood on the floor and thinking it was a red paintball. She described how she covered herself with a classmate who had been struck with a bullet and prayed that she wouldn't feel any pain when she died. She told them how she ran past bodies in the hall and how police collected her bloody dress.
As graduation approaches, Eastmond hopes to attend Howard University. She wants to become a criminal defense lawyer.
Feb. 14 will always be with her.
"Everywhere I go I think it is going to happen again," Eastmond said. "I could be in the safest place and think it will happen. I plan what I would do in my own room. It literally happens everywhere, and I feel there is no such thing as a safe place anywhere. The PTSD is real. The trauma is real. It's something I'll have to deal with for the rest of my life."