This Modern Love.
It only takes me one more week to spill out my guts to everyone else-with the exception of my grandparents and St. Francis administrations. I tell Ari one day in Painting and she kind of shrugs, like she knew it all along.
"What was so unbelievable about it?" I wanted to know. She just laughed.
"Well duh Cheyenne, you kind of sucked at rugby until like, the last few weeks of it! Any good assistant coach-like me-would have known you were faking it." She smiles good-naturedly though. "But since you were my friend, I figured I'd let you stay. You caught on well."
Hmm. Well, nice to know I'm not that bad of a person…I mean, if at least some people can see through my lies, then I must not be the bane of all existing humans who are questing for truth and honesty.
Adam and Dante, on the other hand, just snort with laughter when they find out because they too thought I had too good of a story going. This ticked me off a little because you know I've considered myself to be an adequate liar all these years! It looks like I'll have to change my strategy up a bit.
Zack doesn't take it all that well, though. One day I'm sitting on my balcony around seven, and the sky is just starting to get dusky. I'm finishing up some last minute homework and kind of…you know, working on this. Christ my hands feel really swift and agile now that I've been typing this like crazy for a while.
Zack slides down from his balcony with a bottle of champagne in his hands-stolen from Easter. I know so because I saw him filch it-and sits down next to me like the typical boy with his legs all splayed, leaning back. I swear boys just try to take up as much room as they possibly can.
"Hey, " He says, "You want some?" I glance at the bottle's label; it's from a few years back which I guess was a good time to ferment wine.
"Sure, but don't expect me to like it." I tell him in warning. It's true! The few times I've had alcohol I've ended up hating the taste, the old-Chinese-food smell, and hot feeling that slides down my throat! He just chuckles and pops open the bottle like he's done it a million times-knowing him, he probably has…I mean, you don't want to become a lawyer just because your parents told you that's what you were going to be!
"So you excited for next week?" He asks softly. It's a little windy, so when I look at him I almost blush because his hair is ruffling slightly.
"Uh…" I clear my throat. "Next week? What's next week?" He grins and turns to me, showing his teeth.
"Are you serious? Cheyenne, we're graduating next Wednesday!"
"Oh, yeah…" I look down at my homework. It seems impossible that I'm going to finally get out of the school system after all these years. I kind of feel like I'm getting kicked out, not ushered. "That."
"You're still freaked out about college, huh?" He wants to know, taking a drink from the bottle. I almost giggle when he shudders and glares at the bottle in disdain. "You're right; this isn't very good."
"Told you." I reply, stretching and putting my homework aside. "I'm not freaked out about it anymore I don't think…it's just, it doesn't feel like it's time to leave just yet, you know?" He nods in agreement and we're silent for a moment before I decide to tell him about everything.
"You know…" I've been saying that a lot, haven't I? "Maybe it's because I haven't exactly been myself this whole year. Like, everything I said and used to get into St. Francis and college? I lied about all of it. None of it's real, and I don't want NYU to think I'm fake because I'm not. It's just…I can make myself look like a much better person if I doctor things." Zack eyes me suspiciously, like he can't believe he just heard that.
"What? What do you mean you lied about everything?" He questions slowly. I can already tell he's not one of the accepting types of people. Great…maybe I shouldn't have struck up this conversation.
"I mean that everything I'm into now is because I had to lie my way in." I explain. "I suck at art, Zack. I should not have gotten into St. Francis, but everybody was all like, 'oh but you should go because your dad went' so I decided I'd give it a try. I'm smart; I can figure out ways into places like St. Francis."
"So you didn't deserve to be at school?" Zack's already angry, I see. "What about everything else? Are you even Dianne and Harold's granddaughter?"
I probably shouldn't do it, but I shrug. I'm not sure anymore with Mia and Mark. I mean, I look like him and all, so obviously I'm part of their family, but I'm not sure if I want to associate myself with them still.
"Yeah, duh." I tell him. "I never played rugby or tennis until I came up here though, but it's true my last school's football team made it to state finals. We didn't have rugby down south. Oh, I can't write either, or even take a good picture. I have no idea why anyone thinks I'm good at either. I guess…I guess I just wanted to get in without being hassled, and apparently it worked."
"Yeah," He says, putting the champagne bottle down and standing up, "it did work. Congratulations; you managed to fool a whole lot of people." That's all he needs to say though, because once he's done he gets his feet up on my balcony's railing and jumps back up to his, back inside and shutting the window with a slam.
I watch him do all this and suddenly feel ashamed of myself. This is rare, because I generally feel good when I can fool people so well.
So why does he make me feel so bad about my own fake life that I built up for myself in order to please others?
Two days before graduation. Two days, and no one is on the subway with me. Dante's gone AWOL-he's going to walk with us but he's got to make up as much school as he possibly can in the meantime-and Zack? Well… Zack, he:
Yeah, after about an hour of wondering why he was so mad at me, it dawns on me that unfortunately, the human race is under the impression that the truth is the only good thing, and false info is like hell on earth.
As much as I wish I was for all that, I'm not. But I can see why he's mad; he was duped, made to look stupid when in general he'd been looking pretty intelligent to me.
Therefore, I'm dead in his eyes, and I probably deserve that…
Anyway, the rides back and forth to school are very lonely, I've discovered. I've been hit on twice by old guys-once every day!-and I'm starting to think that maybe I should at least talk to Zack.
Because I really want to cry when he's not there.
It's three hours before graduation. This is supposed to be the shining, glorious moment of my young like (since I missed out on prom) but I feel nothing glorious about today. I'm still missing Zack, and I hardly have gotten to hang out with anything. I'll be going to NYU in the fall with Ariana, but…
What about everybody else? What about…ugh, can you tell I'm scared about today? Because that's the only feeling I've been able to decipher all day!
I've got my planned graduation outfit on and I'm very ready for the after graduation party planned by Dianne (she invited my mom, and me and Mark are cringing for the moment when we'll have to tell her the whole Galveston story). Hell, I'm ready for when I've got to get in the car with Zack to go to St. Francis. Am I ready to converse with him? Absolutely not! But if I'm okay with getting in a car with him then I should feel a little bit okay with the conversation I'm going to make myself say.
Dianne and Harold are fussing over me, making me take pictures in the living room. Lord, why did you make my eighteenth birthday later this summer? If I were an adult I wouldn't have to put up with this nonsense!
See, they need digital pictures and old fashioned photographs just because these, along with my spring formal pictures, are being sent to every relative on this side of my family that I've never seen. It's apparently to make up for lack of photos all these years, but I think it's so they can prove I am the actual child of Mark, like I really exist because of his facial features and whatnot. Otherwise, am I the legitimate Cheyenne Yates? Ugh, by the way; if I ever change my last name to that pompous ugly word then do me a favor and shoot me.
Really. I'm pretty sure I like my association to things like presidents (Woodrow Wilson) and sports equipment (Wilson Athletics) over some sophisticated 'old world' name.
Anyway, I'm ready for this last stretch of paper. You ready to close everything up? I've practically been dying to shut up and let you wonder what's been happening to me instead of telling you!
Zack and I are sitting in the back of Sophia's car together in our red silk gowns. He's listening to his mp3 player-go figure-and I'm feeling like a jerk who crushed him on purpose. What a great emotion to take with me to graduation! Not…
Dianne and Sophia are busy chatting up front, talking about us and this year in general, thinking Zack and I are quiet because we're nervous.
The nervous stage left me about two hours ago and now I've kicked into euphoria mode. This feels unreal, like it can't actually be happening to me. Remind me again why any senior is glad to graduate. Really, why?
As we head into New York I feel like I've got to say something-anything!-to him, to make up for this past week.
See, anacrusis to this week, I have never felt so bad before about something I've done. This is leading me to believe that, despite my better judgment, I think I need to make it up to Zack somehow.
Like maybe…what's the word? It starts with an "A"…
I don't know yet. I just know I need to do something-now-so I yank an earbud out and start talking-in a majorly low tone-before he can start bitching about god knows what.
"Look, I'm sorry." The words are hard to say, but I manage. "I shouldn't have lied, or maybe I should've told you the truth but Zack, you've got to understand. I thought you hated me for no good reason and I figured why waste my time on anyone? Christ, I figured I would've been back down south with Mia by now! This is the most permanent year I've ever had and quite frankly, it sucks that I can't play at my life like I used to, but I guess…I guess it was a change for the better. So…I'm sorry we all fell apart. I didn't have some jacked up plan to ruin everything; it just kind of happened. So…" What else can I say? What could possibly make him like me again?
He'd probably fall for it if I told him I loved him completely and wholly and I'd just been waiting for Dante to get out of the picture, but that's not true in the slightest and we all know it. I mean, I like him, but I'm still getting over Dante. I'd feel a little slutty if I did do that though.
"Don't worry about it now." Zack mutters back, glancing at me sympathetically. "It's done and over with. This is graduation; today changes everything. And then he puts his earbud back in and I realize he's listening to Kanye West's last decent CD, 'Graduation'. This confuses me because I don't remember him having this CD in his collection last time I hung out with him.
This secretly pleases me though, because he's forgiven me; I know he has. It's just, he's as nervous as I am about today.
Because he's right. Everything changes today. No more carefree school time, no more getting drunk-not like I did it-every weekend, and definitely no more partying if we're going into the career field. At college…well, that's a different story.
Today we're moving on and that's it. We can't stop this time; we can't slow everything down and make things better.
I decide I've got to talk to Dante when we get there. I've got to talk to him, to Jules, to Davie, to everyone whom I've met at St. Francis this year that I have a pretty good feeling I'll never see again.
When I think back to this, I really do wish we'd never graduated. But you know what? Things change, lives change, and people move on and grow up.
Nothing's going to be the same after today. Even if I see the same people, even if I end up going to the same school or working with them…
Life's never going to be the same.
With that thought in my mind, I get out with Zack at the front steps of St. Francis and we look at each other warily. He turns off his mp3 player and holds out his hand protectively.
"You ready, Faker?" He teases, grinning at me. I let myself relax and smile back, taking his hand.
"You know it, Smokey."
Here we go. This is it. Wish us luck, okay? Because we're really like the support right now.
My heart, I think, is about to burst. I'm sitting next to Zack and Ariana, who are on my sides, and Dante is sitting in front of me next to the kid in our history class who called him his brother once. Shame I never learned his name, because he seems decent enough now. You know, now that he's not wearing a dog collar…
Jules and Davie are somewhere farther up, no doubt anxious to get on to Florida and the gay bar. I tried talking to them earlier but three things prevent me from doing so. A-They were making out, B-they were hugging and C-they were crying. This leads me to believe Davie's been faking his gayness for some messed up reason, and that they probably don't want to be disturbed.
Well, I hope they get to do whatever they dream of doing. I'm willing to bet they're generally decent people.
Generally is the key word there. Not when they're busy being snotty, you know.
"As we gather here today, I am reminded of the wonderful, cherished moments that have guided us through our lives." The valedictorian-who is a terrible speech writer by the way-is still talking and blathering on about god knows what, so here; I figure I'll give you some last bits of advice before I leave you alone in the cold, cruel world. That's got to be a whole lot better for you than listening to some bimbo who is more nervous about graduating than all of us combined.
Here's a good list to start off with:
-Skinny jeans are ugly, especially on-no offense but-girls with fat legs. It generates a drumstick effect.
-The same goes for small flat black shoes.
-The prettiest people tend to be the ones who do the ugliest things, so watch out for vanity.
-The longer you stay in one place, the worse you feel about leaving it and people behind there, so if you hate guilt and people I suggest you remain a temporary fixture in any one place.
-Don't let yourself be called something you don't like unless it's coming from a hot guy you're infatuated with and you're willing to take it, all in the name of love. Other from that, by all means toss this person down a flight of icy cement stairs.
Okay, not really but imagine it and then do something less lethal! Like…beating them up. While I don't condone violence, I do support revenge.
I can't really think of anything else, but Father Morrison if just starting to call people up for their diplomas and we're pretty far in the back. You know, there are only two hundred seniors at St. Francis. You would think they'd be able to hand out diplomas a little faster.
Is there anything else that I need to tell you?
Oh, hey! I'm not so random anymore, see? I've been on topic for at least the last four chapters! I told you I'd get better at staying focused at some point!
Adam, who has been in the audience with Ariana's parents-they look scarily Italian by the way-sneaks into our row and picks her up, giving her a hug that she must not have seen coming because he squeals and giggles. Adam graduated a few days ago, and Ariana attended with his mother. Apparently he's going to be a firefighter when he graduates from-where else?-NYU.
It's hard to believe that just a few months ago they 'hated' each other. Hell, it's hard to believe a lot of things anymore. Like Dante?
I still think it's funny that we ever got to know each other. We're complete opposites, yet we connected over so many things, you know? I'm going to miss him and his ocean/city smell when I head off this fall.
Just a couple of months ago I'd been new here, and I'd known nothing about this place. I'd had to come from somewhere most people up here don't even know exists.
I'd been so used to moving, always changing, always being different and new. But not that I'm here I think…I think I like being in one place for a while. The thrill and the change that comes from fresh new people and places can wear thin, I've realized, and I'm glad I've finally got more than one permanent person in my life now.
Father Morrison calls our row and we all stand up, ready to face the podium. Zack holds me back for a second and gives me a quick hug, grinning when he releases me.
"I forgive you, just in case you didn't know." He tells me softly. I turn and give him a hug back, feeling like I'm about to cry again. Why am I getting so sentimental? This is just graduation!
And graduation is what will forever changes us. Godamnit, I'm already getting philosophical and depressing! Why can't anyone stop this from happening?!
Don't answer that, actually. I know it's because no one can stop this. It's a part of life, kind of like a door. We unlock it with a key and suddenly we get thrust into the real world. I don't know about you, but I think I'm ready, maybe.
So I'm about to graduate. I've gotten to the end of this yea like I told you I would. It sucked a lot of the time but I hope you enjoyed it, all right? Because it was a lot of hard work that I didn't particularly like living at times. But hey, at least I made it through the year alive, right? That's got to count for something.
Ariana, who is in front of me, listens to her full name being called and she turns to Zack and I, waves, and then blows a kiss towards Adam. I watch her receive her diploma and wait for my name to be called.
In the meantime, here's your damn book Father Aaron!
Author's note: I'd like to congratulate anyone for sticking with Cheyenne until the end! She was pretty random most of the time, but well…that's Cheyenne for you! There will be a sequel for their first year in college, but I have no idea how it's going to go because of a little thing I like to call the rule of Four; four main characters at all times unless otherwise posted. It keeps everything interested, you know?
Anyway, I'm glad I finished, I was really excited when I wrote the last line! If you've got any ideas on how the sequel should go then let me know, all right? I'd really appreciate the input!