Ann looked slightly green as she took in what the portly principal was saying. David just looked furious.
"What do you mean there's only room for one student to graduate?" he bawled. "You can't do this to me!"
The principal puffed at his cigar. "Nobody ever said you were going to be held back."
David narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Another year of high school won't hurt Ann."
Ann sank back into her chair and tugged her long, dark curls over her face. David brightened a bit, but then his face fell. "But then I'll have to listen to my family whine. 'How did you get out of high school with straight C's? You should be more like Ann,' they'll say. Face it, Mr Henderson, Ann is practically perfect in the eyes of most people."
Mr Henderson quirked his brow. Or tried to. It looked like a massive glob of fat shifting position. "You would give up your graduation for her?"
"Well, no," he admitted.
Ann stood up and slung her backpack over her shoulder. Mr Henderson and David watched as she walked to the door wordlessly. As her hand touched the knob, the principal seemed to snap out of his shock. "Where do you think you're going, Miss Ellis?"
"Home," she snapped. "I'm not sure if you're even allowed to withhold graduation, especially to the best student in school. There are others who actually deserve to be dropped. However, you and David seem to be determined that my chance for med school is ruined," she added, her voice breaking a little on the last word.
"Now, Ann, be reasonable--"
"With all due respect, Mr Henderson, unless you can find a way for me graduate next month, nobody will be able to reason with me. My dream of being the cream of the crop, the best of the best of the best will be ruined. Destroyed. I assure you, you are destroying my every chance."
With that, she turned and left. Mr Henderson sighed. "You may leave as well, David."
Ann took her steps one by one, setting a rhythm. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not--
"Ann." David. AKA, The Traitor. She faltered, but kept going. "Ann!"
She stopped and took a deep breath. "What?"
"Ann, look at me."
She slowly turned around. Geez. Nine freaking inches and he made her feel like a midget. Everyone else was a couple feet taller than her and she was quite comfortable. And so selfish! What had possessed her to do it? To fall in love with this creature was unthinkable. At five foot nine, he looked as gay as could be, in spite of his girlfriend's denial. But those eyes. Oh, those dreamy eyes. And the voice. The voice! And--
"Ann? Why are you looking at me like that?"
Damn. He had no idea how he was messing with her head. "No reason. Maybe because you're graduating and I'm not."
She kept plodding towards home. David walked along beside her. "Come on, Ann, it's no big deal. Just one year. You're only fourteen."
"And you're not even seventeen until the day after graduation, David. You skipped a grade, and it's just one year. You should use it to bring your grade up, but noooo. I get straight A's and I have my life planned out, but--"
"Why are you so red?"
Ann stopped. "And your head must be stuffed with concrete if you don't know. I mean, it's obvious as anything in spite of my efforts to hide it. I guess you're just too stupid to notice."
"What?" she roared.
He looked a little scared. "What are you talking about?"
"I like you! Geez! David, are you really that dense. Your presence here, combined with the fact that I'm royally pissed at you makes it extremely hard to form coherent sentences. You're just too busy being the smartest jock that you never noticed."
David looked at her in disbelief. "That's it? You like me? I already knew that."
What Ann did next left him in severe danger of being incapable of having any children.
Two weeks later, the principal called her into his office.
"Ann Ellis," he asked, as if he didn't know already.
"Yes." She shifted her weight, trying not to stare at the fat jiggling on his chin.
"You're graduating this year. One of our graduates dropped out," he said, shuffling papers. "She was pregnant, you know."
"Yeah, I know," she sighed. "Thank you."
Ann sat at her desk, gazing at the sheet of paper. At last, she picked up her pen, dipped it into the ink, and began to write.
David walked off the stage and was instantly enveloped in a cloud of relatives and friends. Ann watched in disinterest.
Five minutes later, his sister walked in, and he was forgotten. He turned to look at her and gave a tentative smile.
She didn't smile back, but she approached him. "I won't apologize," she began.
He nodded quickly. "I know."
"And you know why, too."
She bowed her head as if in prayer for a moment, and then looked up. He held out his hand and offered, "Friends?"
"No." Ann placed her hands on his shoulders, kissed his cheek, and whispered, "Goodbye."
He stared at her, confused. Anna smiled sadly and tucked an envelope into his hands. As he watched, she fled, pulling her graduation gown over her head as she went.