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Finally, graduation and in 48 hours I’ll be out of this town. I stood near the front of the alphabetical line of black gowns. Slowly inching forward, every step was one step closer to getting out of here. Standing in the sun was hot; sweat was beginning to appear near my brow line. I continued to count the caps waiting ahead of me, only five more. So close. Everyone always says graduation is supposed to be this big thing, but to me, it was only delaying my escape from this boring town. I wanted to go somewhere, to be someone.
As more names were announced, the line in front of me grew shorter. Only one more graduating student stood ahead of me; Amanda Kaiser. Her blond hair was in short ringlets, the heat making it frizz. As they called her name, she walked on stage accepting her diploma. She was titled Valedictorian. After shaking hands with the principle and the head staff she took her seat in the audience. At last, it was my turn.
“Autumn Lear,” announced the women at the microphone.
Stepping forward careful not to trip, I walked over to Mr. Rosenblum; our principle to receive my diploma, congratulating me as we shook hands. Camera flashes from the audience of enthusiastic parents confounded me as I crossed the stage. I continued to shake hands with the rest of the head staff as more congratulations were spoken.
In a daze I walked off stage with my diploma, taking a seat next to my four best friends; Caraline Allie, Lindsay, and Kevin. We waited impatiently in our seats as other students received their diplomas. We had been through everything together these past four years. I couldn’t help but look at them, of all the reasons to stay here, in this characterless town, they were it. I was definitely going to miss them. Caraline, her beautiful red hair, always something I desired. She had wide green eyes, and a nervous giggle. I would surly miss hearing her gossip. Allie had heavyhearted hazel eyes, and brandy brown hair. You could always trust her with a secret. But the deep scar on her shoulder would forever be imprinted in my mind. Lindsay had aquamarine eyes and strawberry blond hair. She was always fun to joke around with. I will never forget all the laughs we shared during the four short years I knew her. And who could forget Kevin? His stormy gray-blue eyes always so alert under his caramel colored hair. He was a runner, tall and thin, but also muscular. He saved our butts so many times. He has been my best friend since the 5th grade; I will definitely miss hanging out with him. I was going to miss all of them…
Realizing I had zoned out for the entire ceremony, I tried to bring my thoughts back to the present. Mr. Rosenblum invited Amanda Kaiser to give us a speech. Once again she stepped on stage, only this time walking towards the microphone.
She began, “Most graduation speeches are about unity and how close we've become as a class. I don't think that this applies to us. Instead, I think we've all become close as individuals, not because of some imaginary entity we all belong to, but because of who we are. But that’s what's important. In 10 years, we won't be chanting "Seniors Rule"; we'll be remembering the individual relationships we all had.
I remember after our eighth grade graduation milling about the courtyard, hugging each other and crying for what would become of us. We were scared of high school - this time it's the real world. And later in life, we will face much bigger obstacles that we will overcome, and high school graduation will be fondly remembered. As we approach this real world, it's important to remember the many people who have helped us along the way as leaders, advisers, peers, and friends.
I stand before you as valedictorian. But valedictorians and academies alone do not make up our class. Each person brings a part of themselves…” She continued on for some time after that but I didn’t really care. I was beginning to acknowledge the small things I would miss about Radcliff Heights; my friends of course, the woodsy smell, the never ending roads, and the friendly people. But Radcliff is so small and boring. I couldn’t possibly live here forever. I needed to get out, and if I didn’t get out now, I never would. Radcliff would become a jail cell, its chains holding me prisoner forever.
After Amanda’s speech, all 112 graduates filed into the gym for snacks and punch where parents joined their sons and daughters for more celebration. Allie, Lindsay, Caraline, Kevin, and I stayed together as our parents ran towards us with big grins on their faces.
“Pictures,” my mom shouted repeatedly. “Everyone gather together!”
“Ugh pictures,” I hated pictures. I never looked good in them.
“Ooh pictures! I love pictures,” squealed Caraline.
“Smile kids,” my mom said with her face to the camera. “Get closer together.” We squeezed closer together as my mom commanded. “Ready? 1...2…3...smile!” SNAP! The flash blinded my eyes. She looked at the picture. “Ah, Autumn, your eyes are closed! Again!” SNAP! I tried not to blink this time. “Perfect!”
“Great,” I mumbled under my breath.
“Now just Autumn and Kevin.”
“Mom,” I complained.
“Come on! You guys have been best friends since the 5th grade, what if you never see each other again? This could be your last picture together ever.”
“Fine,” I agreed. Kevin and I were so close, so similar. I was kind of glad my mom thought to take one last picture together before we both go to college.
“Alright, get together you crazy kids,” my mom said with a smile on her face. She always thought Kevin and I would be together someday, but we never got past the best friends stage. I couldn’t picture it; we’d known each other forever. And I wouldn’t want it to ruin our friendship. Once my mom took the picture, she smiled and put the camera away.
After all the pictures, our parents formed a circle and began to talk about all of us. Not wanting to hear anything, the five of us walked away. We got some punch before anyone had time to spike it and grabbed some cookies. We went back outside again and sat under a tree. Sitting under the shady tree felt so nice after standing forever during the ceremony. My feet were killing me!
Allie began the conversation, “So you guys are all still coming over tonight, right?” She was talking about our sleepover plans. We had all planed awhile back that we would have one last sleepover together to celebrate. I was looking forward to this sleepover forever. All my favorite memories came from these group sleepovers.
“Of course, who could forget,” I responded.
“Do you need me to bring anything?” asked Lindsay. She was always offering to help out.
“Umm, no I don’t think so. But maybe some extra chips and salsa would be a good idea.” replied Allie.
“Alrighty, no problamo.” Lindsay always enjoyed changing words.
“What time do you want us to come over tonight?” asked Caraline.
“Seven sound good?”
Kevin remained silent during the entire conversation. I couldn’t stop looking at him, he looked different, like he wanted to say something but didn’t. I didn’t ask him what the matter was. If he wanted to say it, he would have said whatever it was, right? Maybe it was just shock that we’d actually just graduated from high school and were all leaving for college soon. I mean, I couldn’t even believe it myself. I had been waiting for this day for a lifetime, and here it was, right in front of me.
Fifteen minutes later our parents found us and asked if we were ready to go home now. “Yeah, I guess. I’ll see you guys later then,” I said as I stood up, ready to get out of this hot gown.
“See ya,” Said Lindsay as she too stood up.
Walking to the car I realized Kevin was still sitting under the tree, watching me leave. What was with him today? It had to be the graduation thing. Tonight was the last time we were all going to hang out before we all leave for college. We were most likely never to see each other again. But good thing I already had a plan about that, he just didn’t know it. I waved goodbye to him as I got into the car then drove home. I still needed to get a few things together for college and I had to gather my things for tonight’s get together.
At home, my room was full of boxes. I had been packing for college for the last week and a half. In less than 2 days I would be driving to Duke University. I was going into the heath field so I could become a pediatrician. I had been dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 5 years old. My influence was my mother, who was the nurse at my old elementary school. I wanted to be just like her. But, of course, as you grow older what you want changes, so I decided I would become a pediatrician.
I found some old pajamas and a sleeping bag in my closet for tonight. I grabbed my toothbrush and all the other necessities a girl needs for a sleepover. I also decided to bring my new bikini in case we decided to go swimming in Allie’s pool. On the way out I grabbed every ones graduation gifts that I had bought them a few weeks ago.
It was almost sunset when I arrived at Allie’s house. She lived in what’s considered an average house in Radcliff Heights. It had brick siding and clean shudders. I walked up to the front door and knocked. Caraline answered and led me to the basement where we would be sleeping for the night. I don’t like basements that much, I think they’re creepy. I was surprised we were sleeping down there when we had the entire house to ourselves. Allie’s parents knew we were going to be up late tonight and loud as always, so the booked a night in the towns only motel. In the basement Allie and Caraline’s sleeping bags were laid out on the ground with pillows.
“Oh shoot, I forgot my pillow.” I announced.
Kevin walked down the stairs at that moment, “Don’t worry, I brought an extra. I know how forgetful you can be sometimes.” He smiled.
I took the pillow amazed by him being so thoughtful, “Oh! Thank you so much!”
“Kevin saves the day,” smirked Lindsay, following Kevin down the stairs.
“Truly, you’re the best.” I looked at Kevin. He seemed so different today. Or was it me? He kind of actually looked beautiful. I couldn’t stop looking at his eyes. He had deep eyes. When I looked in them, I felt like I could see his soul.
In the end we decided to lay our sleeping bags out in a circle, our heads in the middle. My sleeping bag was between Kevin’s and Lindsay’s and Caraline and Allie where across from me.
“So what do you guys wanna do,” Asked Allie.
“I don’t know. We could play truth or dare?” Suggested Caraline.
“Sounds good to me,” agreed Lindsay.
Caraline began as always, “Umm, Allie, truth or dare?”
“Truth? What, are you chicken,” pressed Caraline.
“Yes,” said Allie. We all laughed.
“Alright, truth… If you had to pick any guy in our school to go out with, who would you chose?”
“That’s easy, Chad Albee!” Allie loved Chad. She’s had a crush on him since the 8th grade.
“Your pathetic,” Caraline laughed. “Why didn’t you ever just ask him out?”
“The girl isn’t supposed to ask the guy out! Everyone knows that,” Allie exclaimed. We all laughed again.
“If that’s what you think,” Caraline thought anyone could ask anyone out. “It shouldn’t matter, take charge! Your turn.”
She looked around our little circle of friends for a target. “Lindsay, truth or dare?”
“Dare. I’m not a chicken like some people,” she said pointing at Allie.
“I dare you to run outside around the house once with only your bra and underwear on.”
“Are you for real? The sun hasn’t even set completely yet!”
“I thought you weren’t a chicken.” Allie pointed out.
“Ugh, fine.” She quickly stripped down and ran upstairs towards the front door. No one cared that Kevin was there. He’d seen us all in our undies at one point or another.
“Oh I got to watch this,” Exclaimed Caraline who was already running up the stairs.
“I’m timing you!” shouted Allie out the front door. “30 seconds!”
When Lindsay finally made in back into the house everyone laughed hysterically. Her facial expression was priceless. “I’m going to get you back Allie!”
“Alright, but it was worth it,” she said trying to make a straight face.
Once we were all sitting in the basement again, the game continued again. “Hmm… let me see, Allie!”
“What, you can’t pick me, I just picked you!” She protested.
“Nah ah ah, not in the rules,” Lindsay shook her finger, planning on how to get Allie back. “Truth or dare?”
“Dare. But only because I know you’re going to keep asking me until I pick it.”
“Good. Ok, so I dare you to go upstairs and grab an ice cube from the freeze and put it in your underwear until it melts completely.”
“Oh boy.” She climbed the steps two at a time, eager to get the dreadful chill over with. A minute later she ran back down complaining how cold it was. She pranced around the room until the ice cube melted, making it look like she peed her pants. Everyone laughed. “There, you had your revenge.”
“Oh yes I did.”
“Autumn, truth or dare?” Allie asked me.
“Truth, I am not putting an ice cube in my undies tonight!”
“What is one secret you have never told anyone?”
“Sometimes I dance to HSM and Hannah Montana songs when I’m home alone because they make me happy.” I kind of had to laugh at myself, it sounded so funny out loud.
Everyone laughed at me, “You would do that.”
“Yeah,” I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Pick someone,” commanded Caraline impatiently.
“Alright, you,” I picked Caraline. “Truth or dare?”
“Dare,” she couldn’t pick truth because she had just made fun of Allie for that.
“Alright, I dare you to…” It took me a second to think of something, “call Anthony and tell him you’re pregnant!” Anthony was her ex boyfriend.
“We never did it!” She exclaimed. We all looked at her, does she think were all stupid? “Ok, so only one time.” She said innocently with a smile on her face.
“What?!” Kevin seemed shocked; apparently he’s been out of the girl talk lately.
“It was only once!” Caraline tried to defend herself.
“Only once,” he looked disappointed. Kevin was the type of person who waited till he was with that someone special. I liked that about him, he liked to make important things special, it’s cute.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what?” she asked.
Kevin just gave her a look. That look where you’re annoyed with the person and can’t believe what they just told you. “Just get on with it,” he was talking about the dare.
“One sec, I need to get my cell phone.” She walked over and grabbed it from her bag. “Here it is,” she said, walking back over to the circle. She quickly dialed Anthony’s number. “Hello?” she spoke into the phone.
“Hello?” His voice was muffled.
“It’s me,” she said, making herself know. “I have something I need to tell you…”
“I’m at a party, cant this wait?”
“No, it’s important!”
“Ugh, well then just tell me already!” He sounded annoyed.
“I’m pregnant.” She said quietly.
“You’re what?” He couldn’t hear her; the noise in the background was too loud.
“I’m pregnant!” She shouted into the phone.
“Yeah, I thought you should know.”
“Are you ******* kidding me?” He was pissed off.
“No,” she said seriously.
“I thought you were on the pill?” He questioned her, still angry.
“I think I missed a day…” she said unsure.
“What the **** Caraline, are you stupid?” He was really angry.
“No. But I just thought you should know. That’s all.” He hung up the phone at that point. Everyone was laughing hysterically. We all hated Anthony; he was mean, rude, and a player. I never understood why Caraline ever went out with him.
“He was pissed man!” Lindsay stated the obvious.
Caraline laughed, “He deserved it.”
“Too true,” said Allie. Kevin nodded his head in agreement.
It was Caraline’s turn to pick someone now, “Hmm… Kevin, no one has called on you yet. Truth or dare?”
“Dare I guess?” He said half laughing, half unsure if it was safe to pick it.
“I dare you to kiss…” She looked around the circle, and then pointed to me. “Autumn.”