After Alex Died by Dakota Madison

Posted on Friday, October 25, 2013

“Fine. I expect the two of you to work out whatever problems there are and I don’t want there to be any trouble. Got it?”
Cameron and I both nodded.
“Got it?” Dr. Jones repeated loudly.
“Yes, Dr. Jones,” Cameron and I stated simultaneously. A shiver ran through me when Cameron’s gaze met mine and I felt like I was going to be sick. Some of Cameron’s evil words to my brother echoed through my head. Gay boys like you don’t deserve to live.
      I could feel a bead of sweat run down my face and I quickly swiped it away with the back of my hand. Cameron’s eyes were fixated on the back of my wrist, probably trying to figure out what my tattoo said. After Alex died, I had the back of both of my wrists inked. My left wrist says: Born This Way with Alex’s date of birth. My right wrist says: It Gets Better with the date Alex died. Not only did I want to honor Alex with two of his favorite things, the Lady GaGa song and the organization for gay kids who face harassment, I also felt like I had a permanent reminder of my brother and carried him with me wherever I went. And to be honest, I also knew if I inked my wrists, I would be less likely to cut them when I had the urge to die, which was more often that I wanted to admit. I knew there are many ways to kill myself but at least I eliminated one option. And since I don’t have access to a gun that option is out, too. Survivors of suicide, like me, are a high risk group. Even though we know what it’s like to have a loved one die by suicide many of us still think about doing it ourselves.
As much as I wanted to die sometimes, I still wanted to live more. I often wondered what it took for Alex to tip the scales and finally decide that death was better than life. The night of Homecoming was bad. Really bad. What Cameron and his friends did was unforgiveable. Was it the last straw after weeks of harassment? When did he decide that things might not get better? Or maybe he just couldn’t wait for them to eventually get better? They were all questions I would never get answers to. 
“Are you ready to go back into the classroom?” Dr. Jones’s question brought me back to the present moment.
“Sure,” I lied. I wanted to go back to my dorm room, pull the shades closed, listen to some depressing music and sulk. I had gotten so skilled at sulking, it had become like a hobby. I spent most of my freshman year of college doing it. I was lucky to have a good-looking roommate with loose morals and lots of friends. She spent nearly every night in a room other than the one we shared.
“Remember what I said.” Dr. Jones glanced back and forth between Cameron and I. “I don’t want any trouble.”
Dr. Jones turned on her heels and marched down the hallway toward the classroom. I was surprised how fast she could walk considering her size and the fact she was in three-inch heels. Even Cameron was having difficulty keeping up with her.
All of the other pairs of counselors seemed to be having fun, talking and laughing. When I glanced at Sofia, she was smiling as she touched Antonio’s shoulder. Dr. Jones hadn’t stated explicitly that counselors couldn’t have relationships with each other but it was certainly implied in her speech. The way Sofia and Antonio were interacting with each other, I thought they might hook up even before the end of counselor orientation.
Cameron and I took seats in the back corner of the room facing each other. Cameron was looking down at the laces of his Nike sneakers. We sat in silence for what felt like an hour but when I glanced at the clock on the wall not even a minute had gone by. We still had 20 more minutes until the end of the session and our break. Those 20 minutes were going to feel like 20 years if one of us didn’t say something.
Finally, I cleared my throat and Cameron glanced up at me. His green eyes seemed to hold something I wasn’t expecting: anguish and defeat. I knew those eyes. I had seen them in the mirror staring back at me more times than I could count.
I just couldn’t fathom how those anguished eyes had gotten on Cameron, the star of our high school basketball team, the big man on campus. In high school, he exuded so much confidence he was often perceived as being cocky. How could someone like Cameron possibly feel defeated?
But he looked as broken as I felt.
“So,” I managed to mutter. My throat still felt dry and the words were hard to get out. “We’re supposed to be getting acquainted with each other.”
Cameron nodded but he didn’t offer anything else. He just stared at me. I didn’t know whether he was waiting for me to say something about myself or if I was supposed to ask him a question. I kind of liked it better when he was staring down at his shoelaces.
“Are you still playing basketball?”
He shook his head then turned away. His eyes were moist and it looked like he was blinking back tears. He swallowed then cleared his throat.
I waited to see if he would say anything else but he didn’t elaborate. My head was spinning out of control. It was bad enough to be sitting across from Cameron Connelly, one of the three people in the world I absolutely despised. But to be sitting across from Cameron and seeing him be a person I didn’t even recognize was completely blowing my mind. I needed someone to hate. Someone to be a target for all of my rage. And the cocky jocks, Cameron and his friends, had always fit the bill.
“So you didn’t go to Penn State?” I remembered hearing that he had gotten a full basketball scholarship. It had been all over the local news.
Cameron shook his head again. The conversation was so one-sided it was in danger of toppling over but it didn’t seem like Cameron was going to participate any more than absolutely necessary.
“I just finished my freshman year here.” I thought maybe talking about me instead of him might elicit more of a response.
“I know.”
How in the world did he know that? How did he know anything about me? Or even care?
“My mom moved out of town. She sold the house and got a condo close to The Shore.” I’m not sure why I mentioned that. I guess it was still bothering me and I really didn’t have anyone to talk to about it.

After Alex Died
This NEW ADULT ROMANCE contains MATURE LANGUAGE and SUBJECT MATTER and is intended for readers ages 17+.
“Don’t be someone who defines her life by someone else’s death.”
Dee Dee DeMarco’s brother, Alex, was funny, free-spirited and creative. He was also gay. Tormented by bullies, Alex killed himself on his 15th birthday.
Two years later, and now in college, Dee Dee believes getting a summer job working with a college-prep program for disadvantaged high school students is a stroke of luck, until she discovers that the guy assigned to co-lead her group is Cameron Connelly, a star basketball player and one of the bullies who tormented her brother to death. How can Dee Dee possibly spend the entire summer working so closely with one of the boys she blames for her brother’s death?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I think this is a little story with a lot of heart. I hope you think so, too!
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Genre - Contemporary/New Adult Romance
Rating – R
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