What is wrong with everyone?
Today is Graduation Day. The weather outside is perfect with its abundant supply of sunshine, soft marshmallow clouds, and gentle breezes to keep everyone cool. Parents, other family members, and friends are anxiously waiting out in the stands in the football field as we stand in an alphabetical line inside the gym hallway towards the doors. The hallway echoes with laughter and chatter as I silently stand in between Holly Clanton and Matthew Connor.
No one has said a word to me today. I don't remember much about this morning until I entered the cafeteria for our Graduation breakfast. I sat with my friends and my boyfriend, but no one really spoke. I tried to start a conversation, but all my attempts went ignored. Wonder what is with everyone? Has something happened that I don't know about? I remember thinking. After breakfast, I went to hug Damon but he didn't even respond. It then occurred to me that maybe it's something I did. Oh no. What have I done?
While standing and waiting for our cue to start marching out to our seats, I rack my brain, trying to recall anything he or my friends might be mad at me for. Had I done something terrible at Heather Wood's party a week or two ago? I remember having too much to drink and not able to recall what else had happened. It scared me. What exactly had I done to deserve this silent treatment, even from Damon, who was not only my boyfriend of two years, but my best friend? It must have been bad.
As the doors to the football field finally open, I look back towards where I see Damon, trying to catch his eye. No luck. Sighing, I turn and march with my class, hoping that he will at least tell me what I did wrong after we receive our diplomas. My gown flaps obnoxiously as we walk. The stands are packed with people, so much that some are standing on the field. They cheer and clap as we march out. I put on my best smile and search the stands for my parents and sisters. Spotting them, I wave, but they don't see me. They aren't even cheering. Maybe they're just trying to wake up.
We'd practiced the ceremony two weeks ago, and we do everything right. We seem to flow right down the paths and to our seats, standing until the entire class of four hundred students are at their proper places. Our principal, Mr. Elgart, strolls across the stage in a charcoal suit and royal blue tie. His salt and pepper hair is neatly brushed. He goes to the microphone, adjusts something on it, then picks it up.
"Good morning, class of 2012!" he shouts in his booming voice, making the families and friends in the stands go wild. "Welcome to Graduation Day at Clement High. I am Mr. Elgart, and I just want to say that I am really proud of each and every one of you! Now, a word from our valedictorian, Laura Summers."
It isn't surprising that Laura is the top of our class. She is definitely one of the smartest students in school. She has scholarship offers from both Yale and Harvard. It seems everyone envies her, but I'm just fine being in the top twenty percent of my class. So far I haven't gotten any letters from the colleges I'd applied to yet. Though Laura is very smart, listening to her is like listening to a movie with the volume on low. Even with the microphone on, her small, mouse-like voice could barely be heard so I zone out, wanting her to hurry up.
Finally Mr. Elgart is back at the microphone after Laura returns to her seat. "Presenting the class of 2012!" he said, clapping as the first row of our class moves towards the stage in a pristine line. Harold Adams is at the head of the line, his Adam's apple bobbing nervously as Mr. Elgart picks up the first diploma.
Being the fifty-eighth student in the class, I'm in the fourth row from the front. My palms are sweating and my heart is thumping quickly. The day we'd been dreaming of since we began school, became seniors, is finally here. I barely hear Mr. Elgart as he calles out names of students sitting in front of me, but I look up when my best friend, Melanie Barton, skips across the stage, her short black curls bouncing beneath the royal blue graduation cap.