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To say that’s it been a strange week would be an understatement.

The last day I played in band was Wednesday. On my trombone at least. I used somebody else’s on Thursday since I purposely left mine at home, hoping to possibly escape from playing. Even though I was fuming about the fact that I couldn’t join the seniors and not play, it was weird that within a week, everybody else would still be learning next year’s show music. But I wouldn’t be. I’d be a spectator, not a performer. I had already taken off my band bracelets, the mark of a band member, of the cult. The three rested on my shelf, missing the fourth that I would never receive. I had already moved my trombone to the back of my closet and stored away all my old music and said goodbye to the band hall and the trombones and Mr. Simon. Music camp started today, and there’s an empty seat where I could’ve been sitting.

But it was okay. I had bigger things waiting for me than band.

Later that day, I had to say goodbye to everyone who sat at the back table with me in newspaper. All of them were either seniors or not returning next year. My confidants, my political experts, my gamer goddess, my colleagues who worked their asses off on the rape culture issue would all be gone. As Will took a picture of us standing outside the doors of the newsroom, I was struck at how alone I’d be next year without them.

But it was okay. It was my turn to be a leader on staff.

Then came Friday. I sat in the hall before school and watched Ethan come around the corner. He was dressed in his standard too-big khaki shorts, dirty black and white tennis shoes, and a navy blue Regular Show shirt. His black curls were wet from his morning shower and he was wearing his new glasses, the ones with dark, thick frames that I never got to steal and wear and make fun of how blind his blue eyes were. He went around the corner and we made eye contact. Neither of us smiled, but for a moment we were the only two in the crowded hallway. Then he kept walking and was gone. And I realized that that was probably the last time I’d ever see that nerdy math geek who somehow managed to break my heart into a million pieces because he could only understand numbers, not people.

But it was okay. Maybe I’d meet someone better for me.

And then after school, as Jared hugged me in the parking lot, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. He kept saying “goodbye forever,” which I knew wasn’t true since I’d see him at Logan’s graduation party Saturday night, but I couldn’t help it. My best friend was going to college. And I couldn’t do anything about it. So I cried in my truck on my way home, even though I knew we would see each other over the summer and that he was only going to UNT, which was 45 minutes from my house, and also the school I’d probably go to as well. But who was going to sit with me in the morning, at lunch, after school? Who else had our sense of humor? Who else knew what I was thinking all the time by simply casting a glance my way? Who else could I confide in about the hard stuff - the boys, the drama, the pain of being a teenager?

I could tell myself that it was okay. That I’d figure it out. I’d make new friends. All my friends may be graduating, but I would find away. And I know I will.

Except right now it’s not okay. If I were a Greek hero, my fatal flaw would be selfishness. And selfish thoughts kept careening through my head.

What about me?
Why am I the one left alone?
What am I going to do next year?

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