"And remember seniors to pick up your cape and gowns in the lunch room after third lunch or after school. Graduation practice is on the 10th of June at 7:30 P.M.. Thank you. Have a nice day." Jeannie Carson rolled her eyes and absently doodled on her notebook. Graduation was so lame. They were leaving high school behind. Big deal. To Jeannie it was just another excuse for the cheerleaders to test out their waterproof mascara. She glanced at her best friend Cloey Lewis. Cloey had a dazed expression on her face. Jeannie smiled. Cloey was daydreaming. This was to be expected, because after all it was Cloey, and daydreaming is what she does best.
Jeannie stared at her spacey friend, wondering if her friend had the same views as her. Jeannie doubted it. They never agreed on anything before. Why should graduation be any different? Finally Cloey snapped out of her dream world, and looked at her. The pair shared a smile.
'Nope. Not thinking the same thing.' Decided Jeannie looking at the clock. 'Not even close'
Diane Sommers looked at the notebook in front of her. No matter how hard she stared at it the page remained blank.
"If you want the words to show up, you have to write them." Diane looked up into a pair of warm grey eyes.
"Hey Peter." Peter Loy smiled.
"I take it the valedictorian speech isn't going well?"
"Nope. In fact it isn't really going at all. I've been here for four years! You'd think I'd be able to write something about, well, anything!"
"Frustrating?" questioned Peter taking a bit of his piece of pizza. Diane looked at him.
"Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe it."
"Hello all." Greeted Kurt McGill.
"Hey Kurt." Diane and Peter replied. Kurt set his tray down.
"So Diane, how goes the speech?" he asked. Diane shot him her 'death glare'.
"Don't even ask."
"Done, and done." Kurt said grinning. Cloey and Jeannie showed up then.
"Whatever you do, don't ask Diane how the speech is going." Peter warned "Thanks for the heads up." Cloey said smiling at Peter, who returned it.
"So less than a week left . . . " Kurt said.
"Sad isn't it? Seems like only yesterday we were freshmen." Cloey agreed sadly.
"Hey Clo, remember on our first day, we got so lost that we showed up to Bio after half the class was over?" asked Jeannie. Everyone erupted into laughter.
"Or the time Kurt ended up in the girl's locker room after the homecoming game." Once they stopped laughing Cloey spoke.
"I'm really going to miss this place."
"I'm not." Said Peter. Cloey was shocked.
"You're not?" she gasped.
"Nope. I'm looking forward to going out into the real world."
"Funny." Cloey said. "I'm terrified." Jeannie changed the subject.
"So Kurt, I'm sorry to bring this up, but what are you going to do about Blaine?" Kurt sighed.
"I don't know, I love him, but he's going to Florida and that's a long ways away."
"So's California." Cloey said shooting Diane a look.
"It's Stanford Cloey. What was I supposed to do? Say no?" Diane said putting down her pen.
"It would have been a start." Sensing the tension Peter changed the subject again.
"Wow Di! You have something written down! What does it say?"
"Hello parents, teachers, and friends." Diane replied
"That's it?" Kurt asked her.
"Yup. I have a major case of a brain freeze."
"I don't blame you." Jeannie began. "If I had to write a speech to read to everyone here, and their parents, I'd have brain freeze too." Diane smiled meekly at her.
That night Jeannie and Cloey lay on the hood of Jeannie's rust bucket. They were on top of Burke Hill, a hill that looked over the entire town
"Only four days left . . . " Cloey said sadly
"Why are you so negative about it?"
"I don't know. I'm just so sick of being stuck in this town. I want to go places, see the world."
"Is high school really that bad for you?"
"No it's just – boring."
"Oh." Cloey was silent for a moment "When's your grad party?"
"Clo, there's something I've been meaning to tell you."
"What? You're not pregnant, are you?"
"God no!" Jeannie said laughing. Cloey frowned.
"I'm not going to graduation."
"What!? How can you not go?" Jeannie rolled her eyes.
"This is why I didn't tell you. And it's not like they give you your diploma now. They mail it to you six weeks later."
"It's the principal of the matter!" Jeannie raised her eyes skeptically. Cloey jumped off the car.
"It's like I don't even know you anymore! Next your going to tell me your not going to go to college!" Jeannie looked down at her shoes.
"Uhhh . . . "
"You're not going to college!?"
"I'm taking the year off!" Jeannie said defensively.
"You know that most people who take the year off never go!"
"So what? You're not my mother!"
"No. But I'm obviously not your best friend either." With that Cloey marched off into the darkness, leaving Jeannie to sit in silence.
"Whoa that was intense!" Kurt exclaimed approaching the car. Jeannie smiled meekly.
"Hey." He replied sitting next to her.
"Why are you up here?" Jeannie asked him
"Blaine broke up with me." Jeannie gasped and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Oh Kurt!" she gushed "I'm so sorry." Kurt shrugged.
"It's okay. I'm going to New York, and he's going to Florida. Things wouldn't have worked out. We both knew it was going to end."
"I'm glad you're taking it well."
"Yeah, so did he. Anyway, I'm sure there will be a lot off hot men in NYC." Jeannie laughed
"I'm sure there will be."
"Anyway enough about me. You're not going to graduation?"
"You know me. It's just not my cup of tea."
"I support your decision." Jeannie smiled at him.
"That's means more to me than you'll ever know . . . "
Cloey walked down the path that lead away from the hill. She needed to get away, far away. Cloey had never had so many feelings running through her system at one time. Anger, sadness, depression, and anguish swirled around inside her. And what made matters worse was the fact that no matter what she did, she wouldn't be able to change her friend's decision.
Cloey had been so wrapped up in her emotions, she hadn't really realized that she had ended up in the park. Collapsing onto the nearest bench, she pressed hands into her eyes, forced herself not to cry. After awhile she could sense someone sit down.
"Cloey are you okay?" Taking her hands from her eyes, Cloey saw a concerned Peter staring back at her.
"No." She mumbled.
"What's wrong?" Cloey began to sob.
"Jeannie just told me that she's not going to graduation, or college for that matter." Peter hugged her tight.
"Why is it so important that she's there?"
"We've been best friends since kindergarten! I've always imagined her there with me!"
"Really?" Cloey sniffed
"Yeah. I prayed for four years that my high school days were over, and now that it is I don't want it to be. But I know that it has to, and I want my best friend there with me." Peter brushed the hair out of her eyes, and leaned in softly kissing her lips. When they pulled apart, Peter looked into her eyes.
"I'm no Jeannie, but will I do?" Cloey smiled.
"I guess you'll have to." Then she frowned. "Why are you in the park?" Peter laughed.
"I always cut through the park on my way home from work. I guess we're lucky you ended up here." Cloey laughed.
"Yes very lucky."
The next day at graduation practice, everyone who was going to march was crammed into Burke High's small gym.
"Testing. 1...2....3..." the principal spoke into a microphone. "Hello students. Yes, I know it's cramped and warm. And I'm well aware of the fact that the real graduation will be held out in our auditorium, but that is being used by the drama club at the moment. Just bear with us, now you are all in alphabetical order, can you remember who you are sitting next to?" Diane raised her hand.
"With all do respect Mr. Rochester, we've been next to these people for the past four years. You know, with our lockers being alphabetical?"
"Oh yes, good." Then he went to drone about something else. Peter who was next to Cloey put his arm around her.
"Excuse me Natalie, would you like to switch places with me?" asked Kurt, who was a person away from them. Natalie agreed, and soon Kurt fell in place next to Peter.
"I don't see Jeannie. Where is she?" asked Diane who was sitting behind Kurt.
"She's, uh not coming." Diane was shocked.
"What?! How can she not be here?!" Diane whispered harshly
"She feels it's unnecessary." Peter explained.
"Changing the subject, when did you two . . . " Kurt let his voice trail off
"Last night." Peter replied.
"Huh, knew it was going to happen sooner or later."
"I still can't believe it about Jennie." Diane murmured
"I'm going to get her cap and gown just in case, but I think it's kind of useless." Cloey said sadly
"...And this is where your valedictorian will give her speech." Diane snapped out of her daze.
"What? I don't have to give my speech now do I?" She asked. Mr. Rochester laughed.
"No, of course not! I won't want to ruin the surprise."
"Good because I don't have it done." Diane muttered under her breath.
You don't have it done? Graduation is in two days." Cloey whispered to her. Diane sighed.
"I know, I know. I'll get it done. I just need some inspiration . . . "
"Dammit!" Diane cursed as she banged her head on the table. She was now at home, the day following the practice. "Why can't I think of anything?" Her mother entered the kitchen.
"What's wrong dear?" She asked when she saw her daughter's expression.
"I have no clue what to write my speech about!" Diane exclaimed. She paused a moment before turning to her mother. "Mom?"
"Do you remember the speech given at your graduation?" Her mom smiled.
"No sweetie, not really."
"So it won't really matter what I say anyway."
"Yes it does." Diane looked up at her mother. "It matters to you. Look deep inside for inspiration, and something will come to you." Her mother left Diane alone with her thoughts. Diane closed her eyes and thought about all the things that happened over the past four years. A slow smile crept onto her face as she began to write.
Cloey knocked on the door of Jeannie's house. Her mother answered.
"Hello Mrs. Carson. Is Jeannie home?"
"Hello Cloey! Yes. She's up in her room." Mrs. Carson replied.
"Thanks." Cloey said before ascending the staircase. When she reached Jeannie's door at the end of the hall, she knocked lightly.
"Jeannie, it's me."
"Who else?" Jeannie opened the door.
"I thought you were mad at me." Cloey sighed.
"I still am – sorta." Jeannie stepped aside to let her in.
"I can understand that."
"I brought you your cap and gown." Jeannie sighed in frustration. "Listen before you yell at me. I've always thought that graduation was the last big thing for you and your friends before the real world. And it makes me sad that you, my best friend, won't be there with me. Please. Just think about it Jeannie." With that Cloey left. Jeannie stared at the maroon colored cap and gown that Cloey had left behind. She sighed.
"Are you going to be okay?" Peter asked rubbing Cloey's shoulders. Cloey smiled meekly.
"I'll be fine." Graduation day had come quicker than anyone had imagined "I just wish Jeannie was here." Peter smiled at her.
"Sometime wishes do come true." Cloey blinked.
"Huh?" Peter pointed. Jeannie stood in her spot in line. Cloey stood flabbergasted. Jeannie looked up at her, and grinned, Cloey returned the gesture. Then band started to play and the lines began to move.
"This is it Guys! We're graduating!" Once they were seated, Mr. Rochester gave his speech, then the vice principal, and then it was the moment they were all waiting for.
"And here, with a speech of her own, is your valedictorian Diane Sommers." Diane stepped up to the podium, and waited for people stop clapping.
"Hello parents, teachers, fellow students, and friends. Seems like only yesterday we were all freshmen, and now look at us. We're graduating. I honestly thought this day would never come. Not because we're all stupid, but because I didn't want it to. I didn't want to grow up, and be thrown into the real world. I wanted to stay at Burke High and stay a teen forever. But no matter what we do, this chapter of our life has come to a close and nothing they teach you here can prepare you for that. I don't care if you remember what I say twenty-five years from now. Sure, it'd be nice but what I want you to remember is your time here at Burke High. Remember first dates, first loves, first kisses. Remember all your inside jokes, your mixed tapes, and your all night movie fests. Never let go of these memories. I thank you for listening to me ramble, I'm done now. And I'd like to thank you Burke High for the best four years of my life, that is so far. Congrats class of 2005! You did it!" A huge applause rang out of Diane made her way back to her seat. Cloey turned to her.
"Good job." She mouthed. Diane nodded in response. When Cloey turned back around Diane noticed the tears in her eyes. Diane shook her head, and turned he attention back to Mr. Rochester.
"And now everyone's favorite part: the diplomas!" More clapping. When it settled down, they began calling names.
"Keith Anderson . . . Lyn Anderson . . . " Cloey glanced at Peter, who squeezed her hand in affection. "Jeannie Carson . . . " Jeannie got up and received her diploma from Mr. Rochester. From the sea of students, she could still make out Cloey yelling.
"...Victoria Ernst . . . Jacob Farber . . . Tara Fick . . . " Cloey swallowed. It was getting closer.
"...Nate Grimmer . . . Ashley Gulpin . . . Kristina Hall . . . Blanie Havel . . . " Kurt looked around, he managed to get Blanie attention before he went up to get his diploma. Kurt smiled and gave him a thumbs up.
"...Stacey Holt . . . Louis Iverson . . . Joshua Jacobs . . . Cindy Johnson . . . " Jeannie had done it. She had come for her friend. A friend who was one of the most important people in her life. She caught Cloey's eye and smiled.
"...Jacquine Kruger . . . Chris Lage . . . Amber Lee . . . Cloey Lewis . . . Peter Loy . . . Natalie Martin . . . Kurt McGill . . . " Cloey placed her shaky hand in the principal's and shook it. She did it. She made it. Looking at her classmates, she smiled. They all made it.
"...Jessica Neft . . . Carly Noll . . . Nicole Olson . . . " Diane nervously fiddled with her necklace. They were now in the 'R's' soon to be in the 'S's'. Oh god! What if I trip? She thought " . . . Annie Schmit . . . Corey Schuffer . . . Cliff Simonson . . . Diane Sommers . . . " Diane reached the principal, relieved she hadn't fallen flat on her face.
"Congratulations Diane. Good luck to you." Mr. Rochester said, shaking her hand. Diane smiled.
"Thank you sir."
"...Angela Weber . . . Chase Wegmen . . . " Cloey sighed. It was almost over. Everything . . . all over. She wiped a tear absently from her eye, and Peter kissed her cheek.
"...Kim Wood . . . George Zdenek . . . and last but not least Sarah Zosel! Congratulations class of 2005! It's all over! Now get outta here!" Once again a huge cheer echoed through the auditorium, only this time it was accompanied by flying hats . . .
Later that evening the six friends found themselves atop of Burke Hill once again.
"It's all over." Cloey murmured.
"Yup." Kurt agreed. Cloey glanced at her friends.
"Where do we go from here?" Peter took her hand in his.
"California." Diane sighed happily while Kurt laughed.
"New York, New York."
"Europe." Jeannie said. They all looked at her.
"Is that what your going to do?" Cloey asked not attempting to hide the sadness in her voice.
"Listen Cloey. We will all still be friends. We just won't be all in one place." Cloey sighed unhappily.
"I know, I know. But it still depresses me." Peter smiled and kissed the top of her head. They all lapsed into silence, as they admired the star lit sky. It was only when a shooting star zigged across the sky that Cloey murmured.
"Make a wish . . . "