Authors: Alec John Belle
BEFORE I BREAK
Copyright © 2014 Alec John Belle
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organisations, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Who are we as people? That was the question I needed to be prepared to answer the year I started the eleventh grade.
If I had known what I know now, I am almost positive I would have done things differently. Sometimes, being too late changes people, and sometimes things just never work out in your favor.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was dumb, ignorant, and didn’t realize things about the world that I know today. I loved, I lost, and I find myself wondering every day if there was something I could have done differently. I am not a hero. I did not run into a burning building to save people from the walls collapsing around them. I did not fight off a gunman to protect a school full of children. I was the enemy, because that year I learned that the true enemy is within ourselves, and we must overcome our personal demons in order to see the angels.
For years I was terrified to tell my story, in fear of embarrassment or resentment from others, but now I know that others need to hear it, and maybe by writing this, someone in my shoes can prevent a similar situation from happening.
My name is Cyril Hayes.
And this is my story.
My story begins like many others. I was nothing special, just an average young guy starting his first day at East Hill High School in the suburbs of South Carolina. My junior year had just begun and I was super excited to almost be done with high school.
When I look back on it now, I realize how unimportant the “important” things were and how important the “unimportant” things were. When you’re young, your mind is fogged with a sense of adolescence, and you believe that the world revolves around you.
That was my philosophy that year, that everything would be all about me and what I wanted and what I would do with my life.
I had everything a guy could ask for; an amazing girlfriend named Melissa Summers, who was the most beautiful girl in the entire world; my best friend, Jake Rivers, whom I had been friends with since we were in the second grade; and a lawyer father who brought home tons of cash. These were the things that seemed of so much importance at the time, and looking back on it now, I want to laugh at myself for ever thinking so.
When I received my schedule nearly a week before, I had also been proud of myself. My first class of the day was AP Biology, and it made me feel good knowing I had managed an A in Biology Honors to be granted a spot in AP. Then there was AP Language and Composition, Marine Biology, and AP Psychology. Mom had told me all of these advanced classes were probably not a good idea, but I refused to listen to her. I wasn’t going to get into a good college without good classes to have on my application. And lastly I had Algebra II Honors, AP U.S. History, and Creative Writing at the end of the day. Mom had told me it was a good idea to get my ideas out on paper, and I just shrugged at the idea. Then, as she predicted, the writing came in handy.
I had so much going for me that I was sure I was going to be able to earn a scholarship. I wanted to stay in the area, preferably Clemson University, and get a degree in…well, something. That was the only thing in my life I hadn’t quite figured out at the time. I was more worried about doing well and getting out.
That morning I was on my way to AP Biology, looking around for my best friend, who was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t unusual for him to be off somewhere hitting on girls or talking with the guys, so I brushed it off and headed to class. On the way there, I couldn’t get the conversation I had with my father the night before out of my head. Deciding that it wasn’t important, I stopped thinking about it.
Walking into class, I noticed Melissa on the other side of the room. Her long brown hair was tied up into a ponytail as she pranced around the room finding people to talk to. That was Melissa alright—a social butterfly that never let anyone get to her. Her tough skin was one of the things I loved about her.
When she noticed me, she smiled and walked my way. She greeted me with a kiss. “Why, hello there, Cyril. How are you this morning?”
I laughed at her perfect English. “Great, how ‘bout you?”
She frowned jokingly. “Dork. Why do you feel the need to ruin the moment?”
“I didn’t ruin the moment. I just like to talk like a normal human being.”
“Proper English is talking like a human being,” Melissa demanded. “You’re the ones who don’t talk normally.”
Melissa had this insane fascination with English. She took all of her major English courses in middle school, allowing her to take any English classes she wanted to, like Creative Writing. Her dream was to get a degree in English, and she often wished that I would choose the same thing. Melissa was the only one who knew about my secret love for writing, and it embarrassed me quite a bit. I was supposed to be a big, macho guy with a scholarship coming my way, not some book nerd who loved investing himself into a notebook.
The late bell rang and everyone took their seats. Melissa sat next to me, pulling out her textbook and a notebook. “I heard the AP teachers are really nice,” she explained. “The AP Academy is so different than the other part of the school.”
“Shhh,” I said, smiling. “The teacher’s here.”
Ms. Benson walked into the classroom, looking blonde and perky. Most guys would say she was sexy, and even though I could see it, I had my heart set on Melissa.
“Hello class,” she said and sat down at her desk. “My name is Ms. Benson, and I just wanted to say I have the honor of teaching you this year for AP Biology. Most of you were recommended for this class, and if you were, I’d like to say I am proud of you for working so hard to get here. But I also need to send out praise to those who chose to be in this class looking for a challenge and I can promise you—”
Ms. Benson’s welcome speech was cut short as a late student walked into the class. He looked about my age, maybe even a bit younger, and smiled as he walked in.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said and handed the teacher his late pass. “I’m new here and got a little last trying to find the AP Academy.”
Ms. Benson smiled. “No worries, hon. Take a seat anywhere you’d like.”
The guy nodded and walked over to the empty seat next to me. He looked pretty nice, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a great smile for a guy. I was sure he could get all the girls with that. He even wore nice clothes, with a Hollister jacket thrown over his shoulder. He smiled at me and took his seat.