Today was the day. At the start of recess, Cedric would finally confront Dyllan and tell him he needed to leave Aspen alone. He’d made up his mind on this.
He’d made up his mind a day too late.
Instead of letting the kids out to play, the school corralled them into the gym for an “important announcement.”
Aspen was dead. He’d hung himself with a power cord while his parents slept.
The school made a big deal out of it for a week or so. Spitting platitudes about how the whole thing was “tragic” that “nothing could have been done.” Many, many things could have been done – by many, many people. Children didn’t just go around hanging themselves, this wasn’t normal. Yet here they were, spending more money on flowers for memorials and suicide awareness in a few days than they’d spent on mental health care for students over the last decade.
After a month or so, everyone had almost completely forgotten about it. The school itself was back to business as usual, and the students only brought up the incident to reassure Dyllan.
“It wasn’t his fault.”
He was pretty much directly the cause of this, actually.
“Anyone else would have done the same in your shoes.”
What a depressing thought.
Not that Cedric blamed Dyllan. He knew Dyllan – he knew this wasn’t how he’d wanted the story to end. They were all just kids. None of them had any idea something like this would happen.
Except for Cedric. Cedric had known where this road was leading. He should have done something.
But he’d been a coward.
A note from the
The first is a simple clarification. The above chapter was written from Cedric’s perspective. It includes much of his self loathing – SELF LOATHING THAT IS UNJUSTIFIED. I feel that most people probably gathered from the chapter that most of the harsher language is just Cedric being hard on himself, but I feel the need to state that explicitly here in my note.
The second thing is the promised backstory for Aspen.
“Ever since Aspen could talk, he’d been close with his oldest sister. For the past few months she’d been complaining about this ‘really creepy boy from the next class over.’ Then, one day something happened to Aspen’s older sister. He never heard what it was that happened, but he knew it was done by the ‘creepy boy’ and that his sister was… different after it happened. She was quieter. Less energetic. Less happy. Afraid. Then, a few weeks later, Cedric heard rumors circulating his school about a ‘creepy kid in the next class over.’ His name was Cedric. Aspen decided then and there, he would protect his school. He would protect his school from the ‘creepy kid.’ “