15. David Graduates

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15. David Graduates

“I barely talked to Nora for the rest of the year,” I say. “Some friends, right? I’ll never understand women. Thing is, I didn’t understand how much I liked her until she told me she hated me. Not to mention, when she lost that weight—it was like a different person. How could I have known?”

Mr. Aschen looks at me, clearly unimpressed. “Jacob, problems with girls are perfectly normal at your age. What’s not normal is, y’know—the cults, the unwavering devotion to a sociopath, the illegal activity. Let’s try and focus on what got you arrested.”

“You call him a sociopath, but I don’t think that’s correct,” I argue.

“It’s absolutely correct: David was a narcissist. It may be bad form to speak ill of the dead, but we need to focus on you now. There’s nothing more we can do for David,” Mr. Aschen says, hands holding a particular piece of paper from the manila folder. I can only assume the page states exactly that.

“You’re lying.” My voice is louder than expected. Maybe I care more than I’d like to admit. “David wasn’t some egomaniac, bending us to his will. He taught us through example. No one was more serious about Eureka than David. Look at everything he sacrificed.”

“Ah yes, graduation. I heard about this, but please—speak the facts behind the matter. Tell me, Jacob. Tell me what is so great about David Bloom that you are even protecting him after he's dead?” Now the pen is in his hand, ready to write.


Junior Year, Last Day

I still spoke with Nora a few times after Emily’s ambush, but things weren’t the same. It was more than kissing Emily, too—there was a larger disconnect between us. Eureka made a wide divide.

But even Eureka’s fate stood in jeopardy; today, David and Emily were graduating from KHS and presumably leaving the Six forever to go to college. Because of it, I was dreading the summer.

Half the city lined up in the bleachers at the modest bowl of our football stadium. A dark fist of storm clouds gathered far on the horizon; several knobby cumulus knuckles threatened to unfurl their claws into raking sheets of wind and rain.

David and Emily stood on the field while the rest of the Six sat in the bleachers like me. Tensions ran high for the event, and no one went near each other for fear of getting tagged on such an important day. By my count, Steven was It. I kept constant track of him; he sat somewhere far below me, near the field.

Kent and Cameron sat across from me in the stands, watching the proceedings. While the spectators continued to trickle in, the seniors stood fidgeting in a line outside, preparing to stride in and fill the thin metal chairs occupying the center of the stadium. David stood in front of the line and Emily was about mid-way through.

The sound of trumpets warming up called the hair on the back of my neck to attention. Moments later, the march began. The long line of seniors began to move to the front of the field, where they’d be displayed before taking their seats for the rest of the ceremony. As they crossed the area in front of the crowd, teachers and friends stood in a line to congratulate them.

I scanned the line of attendees and caught one snag in the otherwise smooth procession: Steven, glasses gleaming, waiting in line for David to pass him. I worked my way down the bleachers.

The line advanced slowly, each shuffling step bringing David closer to Steven. Slow-motion train wreck. Soon the two friends stood a few feet apart.

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