Before the day my life changed forever. Not only my life, but the lives of everyone I knew. When the sirens came, the court dates were made, and the prison cells called. The consequences of my actions spreading like wildfire throughout everything that I knew, leaving only ashes its wake.
I try to remember the feeling of before. The feeling of freedom, worrying only about what I would do today, instead of would I get through the day. Of planning for a future of limitless opportunities, instead of hoping my future still remains.
No. No matter how hard I try, the ashes of my past float just out of reach, moving further away with each breeze on the winds of time. “Now” is all I have…
But that’s just it. As I look back at that feeling I cannot reach, there is another feeling inching closer. This one is stronger and clearer than the other. This one is coming from ahead of me, my future, not yet written. While everything may seem lost to me, there is something still there, and it is called hope. Hope, that one day a new beginning may be possible. Hope, that as the phoenix of myth, I can rise from the ashes of my past and begin anew. Hope, one word that recreates the limitless opportunities that once seemed lost. This is what I call the after. A chance to redeem all I am and choose not to lie down, but to prove to the world, myself first and foremost, that I am still worthy of the promised chance at the American Dream.
— Michael C.