Epilogue

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Before I even realized it, it was the season of spring. The season of flowers, birds, and all the horrifying monstrosities of nature crawling out of their winter hidey-holes (insects). More importantly, it was the season of graduation.

Alexander Lin's GPA squeaked past mine by a mere 0.04 points, which meant he was designated our class's valedictorian. The strange thing is, I wasn't even mad to hear I'd finished second to him, as always. I was finally getting out of this hellhole known as high school, and moving on to better, brighter things.

Besides, I was terrified of public speaking. Crowds and eyes and words and--blech. I had no problem with Alexander being subjected to that torture.

Graduation was a long and painful procedure that involved a lot of sunlight, sitting, and sweating. By the time I finally received my diploma and shook hands with the principal, the piece of paper had very small sweat stains on it, courtesy of Mr. Owens. I knew he was the culprit because the hand I shook was covered in sweat, too.

"Sorry, Natalie," he whispered.

"It's Nancy." I frowned and discreetly wiped my hands on my graduation gown. You'd think after all the academic and extracurricular achievements I'd had, the least he could've done was remember my name.

After the last graduate--Eugene Zyberg--had walked across the stage (and practically waded through a puddle of sweat to get to his wet diploma), we were finally free to meet up with our friends and family. I elbowed my way through the crowd to find Amelia and Louisa waiting for me near the large brass gates of the school entrance.

Alexander was nowhere to be seen. I was a little disappointed, since he'd been so busy being valedictorian that we hadn't spoken to each other all day, but it couldn't be helped. He'd probably gotten caught up in something important.

"Nancy, you're wearing makeup!" Amelia squealed, her expression reflecting what I thought was an excessive amount of surprise.

"It's just eyeliner," I mumbled. I'd felt self-conscious putting it on in the morning, and now found myself wishing I'd just rolled straight out of bed and come here. Who cared if my eyes looked a little brighter than usual? It definitely hadn't been forth the thirty-minute commitment. "No need to phone Cosmo."

"My, you really have graduated," Amelia practically sing-songed.

"How many times did you poke yourself in the eyeball before getting it right?" Louisa snorted.

"Thirteen," I responded before I could stop myself.

Amelia and Louisa exchanged a look that had become all too familiar over the past months. I called it the 'Oh, Nancy' look, because it was usually followed up with--

"Oh, Nancy," they sighed together, and then both cracked up.

"You two are a riot," I grumbled. "You should have your own show."

"How can we have a show when I'm about to head off to Michigan for college?" Amelia said, wiping at her face. I thought she was actually tearing up, and was rather touched before she removed her hand to reveal a face-splitting grin. "Go Blue!" she cheered.

"And I'm taking a gap year that's definitely not going to be in Michigan," Louisa added. She paused and said thoughtfully, "Maybe I'll go backpacking in Europe."

Amelia wrinkled her nose. "Europe is expensive. Your dad would never pay for that."

"By that logic, I'll be taking a gap year to my backyard."

"You guys are both going so far away," I said, feeling a small lump rise in the back of my throat. What was this--this emotion? This feeling? I was not an emotional, feel-y type person. Graduation couldn't end quickly enough, as far as I was concerned.

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