All words in this prologue have been spellchecked and reread. This is written in Akaya's point of view; the story will most probably take place sometime in his senior year of high school, with the seniors in their freshman year of college. Enjoy.


When I was but a child, an old family friend said to my mom, who was going through a tough time in her life, "Things only get better. You have to get past the pain and let the good reach you."

I don't think I really understood a single word in that sentence back then, to be honest. As a six year old, well, you don't know a whole lot of words. And besides, I was a little slower than usual. I forgot about that sentence as time wore on.

One day, I came home crying because I lost my favorite watch: an expensive, important watch that had belonged to my deceased granduncle. It was a few years later; I was around nine. My mother smiled down at me and pulled me into a hug. "Akaya-chan," she said quietly, rocking back and forth, "things can only get better. You have to get past the pain and let the good reach you."

I was bewildered, but by then I was old enough to understand the basic meaning of that line. I began applying to everyday life. I wanted so much to believe it was true. Amazingly, my grades began to improve, my popularity hit the charts, and I was simply happier in general. I was overjoyed. I knew it. I could feel it. Things would get better, would improve. All I had to do was let it. I knew I would eventually reach my well-deserved day of perfection.

And I did, as a second year. I had a fantastic captain and assistant captain, great teammates who all cared about me, and an infamous reputation. I thought what they said was true, about things growing better and better. After all, as a first year, my nonexistent reputation as a tennis player was . . . well, nonexistent.

But things only got better from there on. It was miraculous how the team managed to stay together. How we managed to win every school we attended a good old tennis trophy. How we had everything planned out, how we arranged to meet again from time to time when we became adults, how we managed to keep our silliness and childish antics even as high school students. From my senior year in junior high, my freshman year in high school, and my junior year; things got better and better. But then again, I was so blind at the time I wouldn't have noticed a crisis if it were dancing in front of my nose in pink boxers.

In any case, I couldn't wait for senior year. I could feel it; it was going to be the best. It was going to be epic. It was going to be memorable, something I would one day tell my love-struck fans and fanatics. Everything about my senior year was going to be special. I would breeze through it, graduate, and go to the same college as the rest of my teammates because we were all just awesome that way.

But things started crumbling before I got there.

That was when I began to realize that they were wrong. They were all wrong. I had been living, been hoping, been trying . . . for a lie.