《 Prologue 》

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"PETER JACKSON!" A tall, blonde boy walked up the stairs located on the side of the stage and shook Principal Harlow's hand. Another boy with dark brown, almost back, hair stood off to the side, waiting for his turn.

With eyes that were a matching shade of brown, he scanned the crowd. When they connected with mine, a soft smile played at his lips, a shallow dimple emerging.

"Milo Jensen!" Principal Harlow, dressed in sophisticated clothing, called out into the microphone. I cheered loudly as he made his way across the stage.

He was dressed in a violet gown with a matching colored mortarboard. The golden tassel hanging down on the right swayed faintly as a gentle breeze blew throughout the open-air stadium.

Milo shook hands with a few of the teachers before reaching Principal Harlow, briefly shaking hands with her. Holding a rolled-up diploma, he smiled brightly as the photographer squatting in the middle of the aisle snapped a photo of him and Principal Harlow together.

As he made his way back to his seat, he looked up at the crowd and winked when he immediately found my chocolate doe eyes again, prompting me to subconsciously tuck a strand of hair behind my ear as my cheeks flustered.

The rest of the commencement ceremony flew by relatively quickly with a few heartfelt messages from the Valedictorian and vice-principal.

At last, after singing their class song, Principal Harlow announced, "Give it up for Pearl City High's graduating class!"

The new graduates stood up from their chairs sprawled out on the green football field and flipped their tassels from the right to the left.
Then, all in unison, the entire student body took off their hats and tossed it high into the air, hollering loudly.

The song "This Is Me" faintly buzzed from the speakers as the audience began to head out of the stadium.

When I stepped outside, I had to shield the luminous sunset with the palm of my hand, my skin glowing from the bright beams. The sky was painted an elegant flamingo-colored pink mixed with a hue of orange and purple-grayish clouds sailing peacefully with the north winds.

A few minutes later, the recent graduates bustled out into the parking lot, and a buzz of high energy and newfound freedom floated within the gentle breeze.

Searching ruthlessly among the hoards of people, I finally caught a glimpse of the boy I had been excited, yet anxious to see. His family and friends surrounded him, giving him many congratulatory hugs and pats on the shoulder with cheek hurting grins on their faces.

A soft smile played at my lips as I stared at the heartwarming sight. I drew in a deep breath, and my lips rolled in as I exhaled.

"Hey," a female voice greeted unexpectedly, causing my heart rate to spike momentarily. I glanced to the side, their neck at eye level. My gaze moved up until I came face to face with a smiling Ava Gallagher, my best friend since birth.

Even though Ava was a year older than me, our parents were close friends since high school, so it was only natural that they introduced the two of us to each other. Growing up, everyone knew that Ava and I were practically inseparable, and we were even voted as the "Dynamic Duo" during Spirit Week at school, which wasn't a surprise at all.

"Jesus, Ava. You scared me," I sighed, pressing a hand against my chest. Her wavy brown hair, which also matched her eyes, flowed elegantly with the wind. She wore a loose white shirt with denim jeans and a pair of tan suede boots.

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