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Tradition by Brendan Kiely – An Excerpt

The students at Fullbrook Academy are the elite of the elite, famous for their glamour and excess. Their traditions are sacred. But they can hide dark and dangerous secrets.
From New York Times bestselling author Brendan Kiely, comes Tradition, a stunning novel that explores various dangerous traditions that exist in this prestigious boarding school.
Take a sneak peek into what goes on at The Fullbrook Academy by reading an extract from the novel now!
For the record . . .
Most people don’t get second chances. I wasn’t sure I deserved one. I wasn’t sure I even wanted one. But I got one: Fullbrook Academy. This is what I did with it.
I once heard another girl put it like this: This is a boys’ school and they accept girls here too. At Fullbrook, they told us to be ready to take on the world, but then they told us to do it quietly. What if I wanted to be loud? What if I needed to be?
The night everything changed . . .

I’m fighting for breath and all I can do is look up and see the white flame of moonlight outlining each branch, every leaf. I’m in the dirt, again, shoulder against the tree, the shock of air so cold it seizes my bones. I can still feel his grip on my arm, as if he’s still here, shackling me to the trunk with his hands and his weight, but he’s not. He’s gone. I’m so cold. I’m shaking, but it feels like it’s this tree and the sky above that are shaking, that are blurry, unreal, no longer what they were. It’s as if I’m naked, but I’m not. It’s as if the ground is swinging up to slap me, but it’s not. I collapse by the edge of the bluff. There are still voices in the woods behind me. Voices down along the far end of the bluff. Voices in the night air like invisible birds screeching in the wind.
There’s a voice inside me, too. It’s mine, I think, but it doesn’t sound like me. It’s me and it’s not me. It grows louder and louder, barking, bellowing up from somewhere and squeezing my head with noise. It’s me and it isn’t, or it’s me splitting in two, and this other voice, this new voice, keeps shouting. Run, it says. Run, run, run.
I’m so close to the cliff edge, I could crawl forward and drop, crouch on one knee by the side of the pool like I did when I first learned to dive, but I’m hundreds of feet in the air, and the voice tells me to back up. I obey. It tells me to stand, and I use the tree to help me to my feet. Run, it says again, and I do, into the woods, down the far path, away from the party, away from the other voices, away from everyone. I know where I’m going, but I still feel lost. Alone. I just want to get home, though the word means nothing now. Just because I live there doesn’t mean it’s somewhere safe.
I can’t believe this, but I’m so out of breath I have to crouch down and lean against the back wall of the girls’ dorm, just to put some air in my lungs. Damn, it hurts. But you can’t lug a passed-out person through the woods, across campus, get her up through the bathroom window, and not want to collapse. Even if you’re me. And even if I did get some help.
I know she thinks I’m an asshole, and I didn’t do it to change her mind. I just did it because it was the right thing to do and I knew it was the right thing to do, and it was the first time in a year I’d felt so certain I knew right from wrong—that I had to do the right thing and forget all the rest.
If you care about a person, my ex-girlfriend used to tell me, don’t just tell her. Show her. Show up, listen, and act so she knows you heard her. Seems so simple the way she put it, but it’s never that simple. An avalanche of other pres­sures buries that wisdom most days, all days, except this night, when, for some reason, I heard that advice strong and true, like a wind through the eaves of the old wooden rooftop above me.
Way up in the sky the man in the moon has something like sad eyes, as if his pale face gazes down with pity, as if he wishes something better for us, or maybe wishes we  ourselves were the ones who were better. I’m sure I’m sober, not drunk, just going a little crazy to think like that, but I think it anyway, because I feel that way. Sad. Like this whole stupid paradise, this very good school, is nothing but a fancy promise, a broken one, a big lie. And worse, that I’m actually a part of it.

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