Kasey Hill – Author & Poet
Graduation day. The last day of our lives as teenagers. No more waking up at 7 in the morning to make it to school where we are forced sit and learn copious amounts of dead information. Today we become adults. Today, we are thrust into the world with no clue how to live life.
“What are you writing?!” John yelled over the speakers of the car as they were speeding to the school.
“My valedictorian speech, duh!” Michala jested back at him.
His eyes lingered on her for a moment in the mirror as she continued to write away. He was momentarily distracted from watching her as a car blared its horn at him as he slowly drifted in the middle of the road. Everyone laughed as he jerked the car back onto the right side of the road muttering under his breath.
“Weren’t you supposed to write that last night?” Larissa asked watching her speed write her speech.
“You know me, always procrastinating,’ Michala said laughing.
She looked up to the rearview mirror and saw John’s eyes.
Duke reached over and grabbed her by the waist, “It’s because your so freaking smart, you nerd!” he yelled pulling her close and kissing the side of her neck.
They both laughed and Larissa turned around in her seat and scooted closer to John. She slid her arm behind his back and he released the tension he had on the steering wheel. He looked over at her and smiled and gave her a quick kiss and returned his eyes to the road. He didn’t want to look in the mirror again. However, his eyes betrayed his mind and he once again stole a glance into the backseat. Her eyes were right there staring back at him. His eyes brightened a bit and he saw her give a half smile before he returned his attention back to the road.
Their car was the last pulling into the parking lot and they could already see everyone gathering in the stadium. They all ran throwing on their gowns and caps and were seated just in time for the principal to begin his speech. Due to their last names, James and Larissa were sprinkled throughout the rest of the students. Michala and John got to sit right next to each other because of the close proximity of their last names, Sawyer and Simpson.
“Are you nervous?” John leaned over and whispered to her.
“What do you freaking think!” she exclaimed in a hushed voice. She looked around eyeing the crowd nervously as the principal continued on.
“Don’t be, you’ll do fine,” John said reassuringly.
“You don’t know that for sure!” she hissed.
“Yes, I do. I believe YOU can do this,” he said looking her directly in the eyes. She stared back.
“Wh-what if I get nervous and start to stutter?” she asked.
“Then look for my eyes in the crowd and talk to me,” he said just as the principal announced her name for her to come to the stage for her speech.
She nodded her head and stood up with everyone cheering and applauding. The whole graduation class was whooping and hollering as she made her to the podium stand. She climbed the steps and shook the principal’s hand. She turned to the crowd, placed her speech on the podium, and looked around at everyone. She couldn’t talk. She had frozen up. Everyone was silent in the crowd waiting for her to start her speech. She panicked. She always got like this in front of crowds. She always clams up. Her face began to fluster.
In the crowd she heard, “You got this!” and looked for the voice as she saw the hand retreat from the air. It was John. She smiled and began her speech.
“It’s Graduation day. The last day of our lives as teenagers. No more waking up at 7 in the morning to make it to school where we are forced sit and learn copious amounts of dead information. Today we become adults. Today, we are thrust into the world with no clue how to live life. Some of us are going away to college. Some of us are going to travel the world and backpack across Europe. What am I going to do? I have until the end of the summer to finalize my decisions. So I’m going to live it up like the rest of yall!” she yelled and the crowd cheered. “As the Graduating class of 2016, we have honored our parents and our families by completing these past four years of torture!” she yelled and the crowd went wild. “Today marks the end of our teenage lives and the beginning of our new ones. So to the class of 2016, throw your caps up! WE did it! Congratulations!” she said throwing her cap up and everyone followed suit yelling and cheering.
The rest of the day flew past as they all walked up to receive their diplomas, gathered with families to take pictures, and celebrated eating out at restaurants. John and his family were neighbors, so they had a big family dinner at Michala’s house. Michala and John hung out in her room while their moms prepared the feast downstairs.
Michala flopped down on her bed with John right beside of her. He picked up her teddy bear and propped himself on it like a pillow. She laughed out how goofy he looked. He laughed with her and looked over to her mirror full of snapshots she had taken with her camera. Their little exclusive group papered the mirror. In every single picture, John was the only one that was always looking at the camera.
He got up from the bed and walked over to the mirror and took one of the pictures down and smiled.
“Remember this day?” he asked holding the picture up. She climbed off her bed and took the picture from his hand and grinned.
“Of course, we went to the fair that day. Larissa had thrown up on every ride and Duke…well Duke was Duke that day,” she said putting the picture back up on the mirror.
John was puzzled at that remark, “What do you mean by that? I know you two argued that day…” he said trailing off.
She sighed, “We didn’t want to ruin everyone’s day by fighting in front of yall. I found him behind one of the rides sweet talking and kissing another girl. Not the first time neither. He ran after me said he was sorry the usual, and of course, well you know, we’re still together,” she said flopping back down on the bed.
John was angry and mystified all at once. “How could he honestly do that to you of all people?” he said out loud muttering more under his breath that she couldn’t understand. He looked at her, “Why do you put up with him?’ he asked.
She shrugged her shoulders, “Who else was I gonna date?” she asked.
He sat down beside her and she laid her head on his shoulder. He placed his chin on her head and closed his eyes.
“There were other guys that would’ve killed to date you,” he murmured.
“None that I would date back that weren’t already seeing someone else,” she replied.
He lay back on the bed and she curled up beside him lying on his arm.
“This is what I’m going to miss the most,” she said as he turned to look at her.
“I’ll always be here no matter where you go. When you come back, I’ll still be here waiting to wrestle you in the mud,” he said jousting and they both laughed.
“It’s not going to be the same. I’m sure you and Larissa will get a place of your own together in a year or two. Duke, well, I don’t care much of what he really does. But, things will definitely be different between us all,” she said closing her eyes and her head growing closer to his chest. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and kissed her forehead.
“Things will never change between us. I promise,” he whispered to her. She lifted her head and looked into his eyes.
“Dinner’s ready!” they heard yelled from the stairway.
“I guess that’s our cue,” she said devilishly grinning.
“Yea, I guess so,” he said neither one of them moving. They lay there a few extra minutes when they heard, “Don’t make me come get you two!” They both laughed.
“We better go down,” he said in a serious tone, “she will come get us.”
They jumped up and ran downstairs racing each other to the table as if they were little kids again. They sat across the table from each other giggling and talking with the family.
“So, are yall leaving tonight for the beach trip?” Michala’s mom asked.
“Yup, as soon as dinner is over for us. Larissa and Duke are ready right now,” replied Michala.
“I can’t believe yall are driving all the way to the east coast to go to the beach. There’s a beach ten minutes down the road,” John’s mother said.
“That is not a vacation,” John laughed and the whole table chuckled.
“Have you two talked about, you know, where you’re going to college, Michala,” Michala’s mother asked.
Michala’s eyes grew big and she shook her head slightly signaling her mom to be quiet.
“What’s she talking about?” John asked looking over at Michala suspiciously.
“Nothing we can’t talk about on this three-day journey to the east!” Michala said excitedly changing the subject.
She glanced up at John who was still staring at her and offered a smile. His expression didn’t change as he finished eating and Michala wished her mother had never brought it up. As everyone finished their plates, they heard a knock at the door.
Michala jumped up, “That’s probably Larissa or Duke,” she said running to the door. She was surprised when she opened it and it was both of them.
“HEY! We couldn’t wait any longer so we came over to see if you two were ready!” Larissa exclaimed.
“Yea, we just finished dinner,” Michala said.
John walked over to the door and wasn’t too thrilled to see Larissa and Duke together especially after what Michala told him.
“Who drove over here?” he asked a little too pushy.
“My mom drove me,” Larissa said looking over to Duke.
“Same here,” Duke said not flinching and staring John down. John took a step forward and Michala flicked her hand up that had been across her chest during the explanation.
“Heel boy,” she said.
“I got to go and get my bags,” John said as he pushed past Duke. Larissa was hot on his heels questioning why he was acting that way.
“What’s his problem?” Duke asked.
Michala didn’t answer and just stared at him.
“What?” he asked.
“What were you two doing together?”
“Nothing,” he replied.
“Don’t ruin their relationship because ours is ending after this trip,” she said.
“You will change your mind by the end of the trip,” he said conceitedly.
“Keep dreaming,” she said as she walked up the stairs to her room. He was getting ready to follow when she yelled with her back turned to him, “Don’t come inside, go wait at the car.”
She heard the door slam shut meaning he was pissed.
She opened her bedroom door and walked to the window where she saw John and Larissa arguing in the backyard. Larissa stalked away and climbed into the car. John finished loading everyone’s bags into the trunk. He rested his arms up on the roof of the car and looked up to her window. He motioned his hand for her to come on. She turned around and went to grab her bag where she found a letter and a rose. She didn’t have time to read it, so she tucked it away in her purse. She smelled the rose, smiled and tucked it into her purse alongside the letter.
She ran downstairs and kissed her parents goodbye.
“Yall be careful!” they yelled as she shut the door and sprinted across the yard.
“You get everything you need?” John asked as she handed him her bag.
She smiled, “Yup everything I had on my bed,” and jumped in the back seat opposite from Duke who was sulking at the door.
John put her bag in the trunk, shut it, “Great! Let’s get a move on!!” and everyone let out a cheer. They were on their way.