The auditorium is still the same. The red seats still echo with the anxiety of talent testing and the white walls are still filled with the silent screams of acceptance. The aisles still have footprints that tell tales of snowy days and yelling about the “ridiculous” amounts of homework we had.
The cafeteria is still the same. The caged windows still speak of our wishes to leave. The floors are clean of the spilled milk and trash we left behind, but they still have marks of when we pushed around the trash cans, racing to see who could get all of the garbage first. The last table still has a dent from my consistent need to gesture wildly and the white wood still has smear marks from other kids trying to clean up their mess before Mr. Rodriguez saw it.
The bathrooms are still the same. The blue stalls are still covered in random words and scrawled quotes. The walls still cast shadows of the panic attacks of my friends and I as we tried to untangle the mess that was our lives without completely breaking apart. The white tiled floor still has remnants of memories of us sitting there, crying about our helplessness, laughing about our school day, hoping that this would never end.
The building is still the same. The staircases are still flooded with children. The school flag still waves proudly in the wind. The hallways still reverberate in the drumbeat of different paces and different steps, both trying to get somewhere.
The children aren’t still the same. Amy, Faith, and Alissa aren’t at the auditorium, laughing alongside me as we race to breakfast. Maeve, Mariya, Isabella, Cadence, and Hannah aren’t in the bathroom, hugging each other on a note of finality. Alexandra isn’t in the cafeteria to argue with me and Brianna isn’t there to stop us. Ava and Tracy aren’t in the talent classroom to annoy me and Phoebo isn’t here to stop me from annoying Kaley. The things, the memories, they’re all still here, but the people aren’t. There is something bittersweet in the promises we never got to keep or the memories we never got to remember together or the infinity we never got to share. However, we'll get back together, sit underneath the stars, and own the universe once more, as we did in our years here.