WARNINGS: Language, some adult suggestion/comments and themes. A 13+ story. Please be cautious.
It’s only two days before my birthday and I’m turning nineteen. It’s hard to imagine that all these years I couldn’t wait to grow up, and yet now that I’m able to move out of my house and leave school, there’s nowhere else I want to be. I’m going from being dependent on a schedule that’s been mine for almost my entire life to developing an entirely new life. And now, just two days before my birthday and one day before graduating, I kept thinking… what am I going to do?
I’ve already been accepted at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Kansas City is a round three hour drive from my home town, and so for the first time in my life I’m going to be living alone. I was able to snag a scholarship for academic achievements, but my parents still had to send in some money, and the books I’ll be paying for on my own, once I figure out how. Probably a summer job.
I’ve gone to Kansas City a few times, lately with my debate team, though that was usually just a stay in a local high school for most of the day and then a long, tired bus ride back home, so there was never any time for site seeing. Though Wichita is closer that Kansas City, my parents and I have made out way there a few times to visit the Liberty Memorial, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Plaza and stay in a hotel. I loved being there, moving has always been a dream of mine, but now it was frightening.
It just happened that my birthday is the day after graduation. Yeah, that’s right; I’m in the midst of graduation blues. Tomorrow I’m going to be walking up onto that stage and getting my High School diploma. From that day forward everything I do in the High School is voluntary. But, until then…
Jamie leaned her head back, her desk directly in front of mine, so she was staring up at me upside-down, “What’s up Annie?”
“Aren’t you always?” she said, sitting up and turning in her seat, pencil in hand, “What time is it?”
“Almost two… the teacher should be here soon.”
She sighed and turned away again, “I want school over.”
“Yeah,” I didn’t say I wished the same because I didn’t. Suddenly I wished that I could stay here, that I could keep my designated place in things. The place that I had established, the place that I was used to. “Are we still on for Maverick’s?”
“Yup,” she mumbled, head resting on crossed arms. “I’m going to pick you up at eight.”
“Wear something sexy,” she hissed.
I laughed softly. Heads were already turning in our direction at the conversation, and I didn’t want too much attention, just in case the help decided to get huffy. “You wish.”
Jamie closed her eyes and smiled to herself while I went back to my daydreaming. Jamie was my best friend, she and I had been together for nearly six years. When we were asked to parties, we went together even if the other wasn’t invited. When we celebrate our birthdays we were always there for each other, giving the biggest gifts, making the best jokes. When we were in sixth grade our teacher used to cross her fingers and hold them up when she saw us. From then on it has been our signal, our ‘hello again, old friend’ symbol to each other.
Jamie and I grew apart last year, made different friends and went to different parties, influenced mostly because we had no classes together, but this year, our Senior year, we renewed our bond. Six out of eight classes we saw each other, and in the other two we wrote notes obsessively. Our teachers soon learned that to separate us was to risk the complete disregard of our studies, and so we always sat together. A lot of them hadn’t liked realizing this, they seemed to like the idea of having complete control over their students and will ignore logic in order to do so, but all of them relented in the end. It worked out perfectly for Jamie and I; while I made sure that Jamie was doing the best she could in her studies she kept my spirits up, especially during the SAT’s.
Jamie was an OK student, mostly A’s B’s and the occasional C’s, but I was an all A student, graduating third in our class while she was graduating at number forty-four. In a town that prides itself more on academic achievements then on any sort of sport, we did great. Our teachers and our parents were proud.
“Hey,” I said, tapping her shoulder, “What are you wearing tonight?”
She opened her eyes a bit and grinned slyly at me, “Worried?”
“Kind of,” I admitted.
Her eyes fluttered shut again, “The black dress, of course.”
“Great,” I said, relieved. She and I had gone shopping not a few months ago and had bought nearly identical dresses. Hers was black and mine was a rich burgundy. We had matching shoes and a matching hair style, so that when we went to the party everyone would know we were together. Not like anyone needed a reminder, we were practically attached at the hip, but it was tradition. Anyone who didn’t like it could just bug off.
I heard the clack of heels just as I was about to mirror Jamie and rest a bit. The exam had taken all day, with the teacher coming in every hour to see how we were doing and gather up finished tests. Her help was stationed at the desk, making sure we didn’t step out of line while the head honcho was gone. Once we were done with our tests, we could go, that was the rule. I had finished my test about fifteen minutes after she had come last time. I could have rushed it and made it out of here the last hour, but then I wouldn’t have gotten full marks. I wasn’t going to risk anything less then my best just for an extra hour on my day.
Mrs. Roderick was a strict woman in her mid forties. She always wore her light brown hair in a tight bun on top of her head. Her eyes were dark and cold, obvious signs of being among students for too long. You may have the best of intentions going in at first, but so many years of teenagers is sure to have its effect even on the best of people. “All of you who have finished your tests may go.” She said, and she sounded tired.
The room filled with the sound of shuffling papers and screeching chairs as tests were handed to the teacher. I prodded Jamie in the back, “It’s time to go.”
She mumbled groggily and yawned, sitting back up. I waited for a moment by her side while she collected her test and stood muttering, “I’m comin’, I’m comin’.”
I smiled to the teacher as I handed her my papers and she returned it. She had a rough time with some of the kids but we’d always been on OK terms, “How’d you do?” I asked my friend as soon as we were in the hallway.
She groaned, “Not good.”
“Really?” I couldn’t keep the surprise from my voice, we had spent hours the night before and the last weekend studying for it, not to mention all my tutoring throughout the school year.
She gave me a long, sad look and held it for a few seconds before breaking into a grin, “No, just pulling your leg. Thanks for the tutorage, oh mighty goddess of homework.”
I laughed, “Right then, good going. Are you walking home today or did you bring you car?”
“Good, can I have a ride? It’s too hot to be out at all.” I had walked to school in the morning, around seven, and even then I had worked up a sweat. I didn’t even want to know what it was going to be like now, just after two in the afternoon.
“Yeah, sure. I have to pick up the last of my stuff, though, so hold up.” She stopped at her locker and twirled the lock expertly. It had been a week since the senior’s had cleaned out their lockers, but she was still in the habit of bringing a backpack to school. Why, I didn’t know, I hardly carried anything even when we were still neck-deep in studies.
She slammed the locker shut and swung the pack onto her shoulders, “Come on.”
I followed her out of the building. All the classroom doors were shut tight, the other grades still a month off from their last day in school. I could hear the murmur of gossiping students and the lectures of the teachers as we passed by dozens of classrooms, all their doors shut. I was sure that they had done this so none of the seniors poked their heads in and disturbed the class. It had happened on several occasions when I was still in the lower grades and the seniors were celebrating their freedom in the hall. The teachers would do nothing to stop the celebrations—the seniors had earned their fun—but they drew the line at the disruption of their classes.
As I stepped outside the heat wrapped around me like a tight, sticky glove. That was Kansas for you, very hot and very humid. God, I loved it. “Nice weather we’re having,” I said.
She scoffed, “Right,” she had grown up in Arizona and missed the dry weather, “I feel like I’m in a boys locker room.”
I laughed, “You’ll get used to it.” She should have been used to it by now, she had been here for a while, about six years. “Or maybe you’ll just suffer.”
“Maybe,” she said, throwing her stuff into the backseat of her car.
Jamie has one of those really, really small convertibles. The ones that say they can seat five people but can really only seat two. The back seat is laughable; I don’t think anybody with knees would be able to fit back there comfortably. The only thing that the back was good for was a dumping ground for the general accumulative junk of a teenager.
The leather seat was hot, really hot. I shifted uncomfortably, trying to find a cool place, wishing that she had parked in the shade. Jamie winced when she slid into the driver’s seat, “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “I should have parked under a tree.”
Great minds think alike.
“Just get going so we can get a breeze,” I said, buckling myself in place. I trusted that Jamie wouldn’t get into an accident, but I’ve been wearing a seatbelt for as long as I can remember. I’m not comfortable without one.
“You got it.” She slammed the car door shut and revved up the car, the stereo immediately blasting the Rolling Stones. She grinned at no one as she eased out of her parking space and onto the main road. I couldn’t say anything above the roar of the car and the blasting of the music, but I basked in the feeling of the wind in my hair and my friend beside me. Everything that I was worrying about seemed to dissolve in her laughter; everything that had been haunting me vanished. It was just me, my friend and the wind in my hair.