The Light Prince: Grail – Tyler’s Journey
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: On his first bus ride of the new school year, Tyler runs across three old “friends”: Trevor (or T-Man), a real poser who loves rapping and playing drums; Katie, a preppy blonde with aspirations of being a Hollywood actor; and Hannah, a goth girl with a depressing outlook on life. None of them take the new school year as seriously as Tyler does. In fact, they rarely take anything seriously at all. They soon come to a new bus stop where a new girl named Amber boards. Tyler moves over to her seat to meet and befriend her.
Chapter 3: Meeting The Mentor
Lunch could not have arrived sooner for Tyler. After spending the morning mulling over the curriculums of history, math, and language arts class, the lunch bell rang, dismissing him and his classmates to the cafeteria.
Tyler was relieved to finally receive a brief reprieve from the first day of school—not so much by his meal of half-cooked fish sticks, still-frozen peas, and lumpy mashed potatoes with lukewarm gravy. The food heaped on his tray by the stoic cafeteria worker was about as appetizing as any state-approved school lunch, especially at a school facing severe budget cuts. At least it provided him with enough sustenance to make it through the day until he returned home for dinner.
The cafeteria was as packed as the bus earlier that morning. He advanced through the crowd of chattering students, unable to find a single free seat. Soon, a frantically waving hand
caught his attention. Sadly, that hand belonged to T-Man, who was sitting with the rest of his posse.
Tyler sighed and rolled his eyes. He begrudgingly approached their table and took a seat. T-Man performed an impromptu drum solo with his drumsticks, using his tray, plate, and cup as a makeshift drum set. Katie kept her nose in her magazine, while Hannah kept her ears covered with her headphones.
“Yo, Tyler, my man,” T-Man greeted Tyler as he took a seat. “How’s goes the battle?”
Tyler shrugged and spooned a mouthful of peas into his mouth. “Okay, I guess.”
T-Man crossed his arms and blurted out a horn sound before saying, “Wrong answer! The correct answer is that it suuuuuucks!”
Hannah threw back her headphones. “To be fair, when has a day in the school system never been a total drag?”
Katie held back a chortle with her hand. “Yeah, like, it’s a real total drag.”
“Yeah, bro,” T-Man addressed Tyler. “You sure you want to stick by your plans?”
Tyler swallowed half a fish stick and shrugged. “If I want to go to college. Graduation is around the corner, and I need to exert myself if I want to get into a good school.”
“Or, or—” T-Man raised his finger “—you can chill out, man.” He folded his hands behind his head and leaned back. “Just go with the flow and mellow out.”
Katie scoffed and rolled her eyes before glancing back at her article. “Yeah. Just thinking about college gives me wrinkles. That’s why I’m not, like, gonna bother until my senior year.”
“The corporate career ladder is a lie, anyway,” Hannah added. “It’s a carrot the wealthy elites dangle before the working class to give them the illusion that we live in a meritocracy rather than an oppressive hierarchy of consolidated wealth and institutional violence.”
“Even if that’s true,” Tyler replied, “surely, you all must have some plans for the future? Isn’t there something you want to do once you’re done with school?”
“Well, dawg,” T-Man said. “Now that you mention it, there is something the three of us have planned. Announcing,” he yelled before playing a drum roll and proclaiming, “The Katie, Hannah, and T-Man Show!”
Tyler blinked away his confusion as he watched T-Man gesturing with jazz hands. “The What-Now Show?”
“Yeah!” T-Man gave another drumroll with a rim shot against his cup. “I’m going to play the music.”
Katie set down her magazine. “I’m, like, going to be the super-beautiful, super-talented host.”
“And I’m going to write the jokes,” Hannah added.
“You?” Tyler asked. “A comedian?”
“Of course,” Hannah replied, maintaining her monotone inflection. “I’ve been working on my comedy routine. Wanna hear a joke? Organized religion.”
Tyler raised a shoulder to his ear. “Okay, I’m waiting for the punchline.”
“That is the punchline,” Hannah answered.
Katie slapped the table with a laugh. “That is funny.”
“Religion is the opiate of the masses,” Hannah said.
As the three friends entertained themselves with their mediocrity, Tyler noticed the new girl entering the cafeteria. She surveyed the area for a free table. Not finding one nearby, she headed to the other side of the lunchroom, where she sat at a small table with only two seats.
Without excusing himself, Tyler took his tray and carried it across the room to Amber’s table.
“You sitting with anybody?” he asked her.
She shook her head, and he accepted that as an invitation to sit opposite her.
“Amber, is it?” he asked her, receiving a nod in response. “I saw you sitting here by yourself. Didn’t want you to eat lunch alone on your first day at a new school.”
Amber craned her neck to look over his shoulder. “What about your friends?”
Tyler turned around to look at the table he had deserted. T-Man was drumming away with his drumsticks, Katie kept her nose stuck in her magazine, and Hannah put on her headphones.
“Oh, them?” He shook his head. “They’re not my friends. Well, technically, they’re not.”
Amber chewed a fish stick. “Technically?”
Tyler shrugged, shoveling a spoonful of potatoes. “We were close friends until middle school, but we’ve sort of drifted apart since then. Well, I’ve been drifting away from them.”
“How come?” Amber asked.
“Well—” Tyler washed down his potatoes with juice “—To be perfectly honest, they’re kind of losers.”
“Losers?” Amber cocked an eyebrow. “That’s not a very nice thing to say.”
“You don’t know them like I do.” Tyler rolled his eyes. “They’re always getting detention. They rarely get any good grades. They’re real slackers who don’t take anything seriously.” He shrugged his shoulder. “I don’t know. Since starting high school, I’ve taken life more seriously than they have. I can’t have people who couldn’t care less keeping me back.”
“I see what you’re saying,” Amber said with a nod.
“You have any plans for the future?” Tyler asked.
Amber had just taken another bite of her fish sticks. She rolled her eyes up to think as she chewed.
“Not yet,” she replied. “I just moved to a new town, remember? And—well, let’s just say some things have happened in my life that have been distracting me lately. I haven’t had time to think much about anything at all, let alone my future.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll settle down and figure things out,” Tyler replied. “We have our whole lives to figure out. We need to plan big. Study hard. Pass tests. Try out for sports.”
“Like the baseball team?” Amber glanced up at the bulletin board.
Tyler beamed the biggest smile at what he saw: a poster advertising baseball team tryouts in two weeks.
“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