It was the first day of English 9 at Eagle Heights Secondary and the class was told to write down three words about the person they were sitting beside, as the desks were two person desks, not single person ones. A girl by the name of Marie was beside Steele Brooks. The words she wrote on her paper underneath his name were gorgeous, stiff, distant. The words that girl said allowed were "Quiet, popular, and immature." By immature she meant that he seemed uninterested in girls, not immature as in he still thought farts were funny and girls had cooties.
Three years later, it was still true for the most part. Steele had gone through very few girlfriends, and always seemed distant, thinking about things completely unrelated to whatever he was doing. He didn't talk a lot, didn't smile much, and when he did smile, it was a small one, not a full, toothy smile. Not a single person at Eagle Heights Secondary could recall seeing a full-fledged smile on Steele's face. No one knew why he was the way he was, not even his best friend, Everest.
Steele was built like a god, at six foot three, he had hard, muscles all over his body from true physical labour and frequent exercise in multiple sports, including hockey, where he felt free and like nothing could affect his real life, where he ran from his problems and didn't look back until the final buzzer went and the game was done.
Too bad life didn't end with a buzzer. It did have a countdown though. Just one you can't see. It's a mental thing, and few find out how long they have, others are taken by surprise, some in pain, others in peace, some with no regrets, and some with so many that hell couldn't hold them all.