by J.C. Alexandre
Tyler doesn’t have an easy life living in a family of success stories. His mother is a doctor. His father is a lawyer. His older brother went to college on an athletic scholarship. And his younger brother always makes the honor roll. Yet the only success Tyler ever had was with video games.
With the start of a new school year, Tyler hopes to turn his luck around. He aspires to make the team and make the grade. He even made friends with the new girl in town, Amber. Will she be able to help him achieve the same success as the rest of his family? He’ll need to overcome temptations from some real losers at school to do so.
Recap: Tyler doesn’t have an easy life living in a family of success stories. He rarely makes the grade or makes the team. The only thing he seems to have any luck with is his video games. He can score big in the virtual world, but he can hardly score big in the real world. As he starts the new school year, Tyler determines to start himself on a journey to make something of himself and accomplish something great. Will he succeed?
Chapter 2: Refusal of the Call
The bus door slammed shut behind Tyler. He paced through the aisle to find an empty seat. The bus lurched forward as he sat by the window of an empty row. He pulled his game from his pocket and was about to turn it on when—
“Well, if it isn’t my main man, Tyler!” a voice exclaimed.
Another boy plopped down in the empty seat next to him. His baggy clothes hung loosely from his lanky frame, and his backward baseball cap covered a short buzzcut.
“Sup, playa?” The new boy asked, flashing peace signs with both hands.
Tyler sighed, pocketing his game, and smiled reluctantly at his uninvited bus mate.
“Hey there, Trevor,” he greeted the boy.
“C’mon, playa! You know I go by T-Man.” The boy patted his chest with both hands and gestured widely. “T-Man’s in the house. And so’s the rest of the posse. Ain’t that right, girls?”
He gestured to two girls sitting behind him. One girl was a dirty blonde with her nose in a
teen magazine. She glanced up briefly to flash her pearly whites.
“Like, hey there, Tyler!” She told him before resuming her reading.
The other girl was dressed all in black: black hair, black dress, black mascara, black lipstick, and black nail polish. The only color she sported was her pale white complexion. Her eyes remained shut and her ears were covered with headphones. She quickly threw back her earpieces, waved, and, maintaining her deadpan expression, uttered a monotone, “Hey.”
“Katie. Hannah.” Tyler greeted each girl respectively. “How’s it going?”
“Like, it kinda sucks that we have to go back to school so soon.” Katie glanced out the window. “But, like, at least the weather’s nice.”
“Nice is a subjective concept,” Hannah remarked, maintaining her monotone inflection. “Personally, I’d prefer pouring rain with black clouds. At least then the weather would match my mood.”
“Okay, then.” Tyler turned to T-Man. “So, what do you guys have planned?”
T-Man raised an eyebrow. “Planned?”
“You know?” Tyler replied. “For the school year.”
T-Man blew a raspberry. “Boy, who plans what they’re going to do at school?”
“Yeah, like, totally.” Katie set down her magazine. “What’s to plan? You arrive to class before the bell rings, sit at your desk, pretend to listen to what the teacher is saying, and go over the state-mandated curriculum until the school day ends. And you do that every day until the end of the school year. It’s, like, such a drag or whatever.”
“The public school system was designed by 19th-century industrialists to impart people with enough information to make them competent workers and soldiers but not enough to allow them to actually think for themselves,” Hannah commented. “I couldn’t care less about planning
for what the system has planned for me, because it’s the same cookie-cutter curriculum enforced upon the proletariat to make them conform to the bourgeoisie status quo.”
Tyler paused to absorb the content of Hannah’s diatribe before continuing their conversation.
“I meant like extracurriculars,” he replied. “You guys joining any clubs or functions?”
“Well,” T-Man said, pulling two drumsticks from his backpack, “I considered joining band, but my beats are way too sick for them to handle.” He banged away on the back seat with the same ferocity and commitment as if he were playing an actual drum set.
“Yeah—” Tyler rubbed the back of his neck “—I don’t think the band director would let you join again, not after you tried to improv a drum solo—during a home game!”
T-Man drummed the last beats of his imaginary drum solo before whirling his sticks in his fingers triumphantly. “Yeah! Like I said: too sick to handle.”
“Well,” Katie interjected, proudly pressing her fingers to her chest, “I think I might audition for the school play. I want to move to Hollywood one day, and, like, I need to get a head start on my acting career.” She folded both hands under her chin and beamed the brightest smile. “My face was made to appear on screens big and small.”
“I’m just going to use my free time to stare into the black abyss of my soul,” Hannah remarked. “Perhaps if I gaze into it long enough, it might gaze back at me.”
“Have you considered joining the poetry club?” Tyler asked. “I’m sure you could share your dark and depressing poems there.”
“The world isn’t prepared to hear the words I have penned to paper,” Hannah replied. “They’re too content in their own complacent ignorance that anything that would jolt them away from it would cause them to go insane from the sheer revelation.”
A deathly silence hung over the others like a pall. The sudden screeching of brakes and lurch forward jolted them from their thoughts.
Tyler looked out the window. “Hey, I don’t think we’ve ever stopped here before.” He watched as a dark-skinned girl wearing a bucket hat with a sunflower raced across the front lawn. “Looks like a new girl.”
“So, what are your plans for the school year?” T-Man asked with air quotes.
“You know, the usual,” Tyler replied. “Study hard. Prepare for the SATs. Try out for every single sport.”
“And fail?” Hannah asked.
“Ouch!” Tyler winced and sucked in a breath. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, there.”
“School athletic programs are nothing more than a shortcut for macho jarhead dunces to be accepted into university without academic credentials,” Hannah replied.
“Now that’s not fair,” Tyler retorted. “My brother was accepted into a big-name school and he’s way smarter than me.”
“Well, then—” Katie shook her head “—it’s a shame you didn’t receive the same brains and brawn as him.”
Feeling slightly more frustrated than before, he was about to rebut her when—
“Ah! My shoe!” a high-pitched voice shrieked. “Y’all done ruined them!”
All eyes glanced at the scene unfolding in the middle of the bus. The new girl lay flat on the floor as an angry blonde girl glared at her from her seat.
“Ooh, boy!” T-Man said through his teeth. “Looks like the new girl ticked off Rebecca.”
“Yeah,” Katie sighed and shook her head. “You never want to get on Becky’s bad side. I say that as someone who’s been her friend and her enemy.”
“At least we’ll get a decent funeral out of it,” Hannah commented. “I love funerals.”
The four watched silently as the two girls yelled back and forth at one another.
“Is there a problem back there?” the bus driver yelled.
Both girls froze.
“No, ma’am,” the new girl stuttered.
“Good,” the driver replied. “Now sit down.”
Tyler glanced at the empty row of seats across the aisle, then at T-Man.
“Yo,” he said, pointing to them. “You still sitting there?”
T-Man shook his head. “Nah, bro!”
Tyler stood as soon as the bus lurched forward. He leaped into the empty seat, positioning himself against the window. As the new girl passed by, he waved at her.
“This seat’s not taken,” he told her.
She stopped. He gestured for her to sit next to him. She accepted his offer.
“You new?” he asked. “I haven’t seen you before.”
“We moved two weeks ago,” the new girl replied.
“Tyler’s Journey” is a side-story to the fantasy novel, “The Light Prince Grail.” The story follows Tyler’s life before he and Amber ventured into the fantastical world of Arden. It details his many personal struggles and how they influenced his decisions in the novel. His story will help readers learn more about themselves as they do about him.
“The Light Prince: Grail” and “Tyler’s Journey” are available in paperback and e-book on Amazon. For more information, visit the author’s website at: jcalexandre.com