The Cycle

By , Tukwila, WA

         Quentin was a good kid even though he was born and raised in north Atlanta, surrounded by negative influences. He was the youngest of eight, but by this time in his life his siblings had all moved out and Quentin now shared the house with just his parents. It was his senior year of high school and he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. All he knew was that he couldn’t end up like his brothers and sisters, living from paycheck to paycheck, in and out of jail, making money any way they could, whether it be legal or illegal. Quentin could not fall into this cycle. He needed to get out of Atlanta.
Quentin was a pretty good student-athlete, receiving a few offers from schools around the state for football, and others from education. There were a lot of paths to choose from but he wasn’t really sure which he wanted to take. His friends (who weren’t really the best of friends) had a lot of influence over him and pushed him towards staying close to home. While the thought of escaping his circumstances always floated around in the back of his mind, he was easily distracted by notions injected into his mind by his so-called ‘friends’. From shoplifting to grand theft auto, Quentin could not say no to them. They were all he had left, and saying no to them meant he would be alone. He feared this more than anything. 
         Quentin got a job as a janitor at the local bank. He had just been hired and was looking to make some money to buy a new car. One day his ‘friends’ came up with an idea that would make them all rich. They wanted to rob the bank. Due to his inability to say no, and his fear of being alone Quentin’s decision was easy. He agreed to help rob the bank. He couldn’t lose his friends now, especially when this may be the last year they have together.
         The plan was solid, Quentin would go to work just as if it were any other day, and the robbery would start fifteen minutes into his shift, just as the guards switched. He had now been working for a couple of months and his supervisors trusted him and wouldn’t be too suspicious of hi actions. Just before the start of the robbery Quentin was supposed to go into janitorial closet, change his clothes, put on his mask and wait for the alarms to go off. From there, all Quentin had to do was bring the stolen money to the getaway car waiting out back and they would be free.
         The alarms began to blare, Quentin was flooded with feelings of regret and was paralyzed with fear. It was too late now, he had already committed himself and he couldn’t let his friends down.
         Quentin jolted awake, drenched in sweat. Same nightmare, different night. He would see the bodies of his friends, the officers, and the innocents all lying in pools of blood, right alongside himself. It was all his fault, all of this could have been avoided had he just said ‘no’. Sometimes he wished the dream would have been true, that he too would have been killed rather than imprisoned for the rest of his life. He had fallen into the same cycle that he had hoped to avoid, he was no better than his siblings, if anything worse. But nothing could be done now, it was too late.






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