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Chapter 34 - Daniel Stephen Williams

I was bored and when I say bored, I mean, really, really bored. With over seven hundred seniors graduating in my senior class, I had been sitting in the same uncomfortable seat for the last two hours waiting for my name to be called. The joys of having a last name that begins with a “W” I guess. The row in front of me had just stood to prepare to walk to the stage so it was finally getting close. I looked over and saw Jeff. Jeff had been a good friend for the longest time and we became a lot closer since poor Tobin’s accident. God, even in my memory I think it was an actual weight lifting accident. How crazy is that I thought? Pretty crazy for sure how our brain works and decides how to recall things.

Finally, we get our marching orders from the assistant principals at the end of the rows to stand together and my row immediately stands and turns to the right. We wait a few moments and then we march onward. We all are now lined up waiting our turn to walk up on the stage. We wait, and wait, and wait a little longer. There seems to be some confusion on the diplomas. Somebody got out of order and walked across when their name wasn’t called. Really? We had practiced this over and over the last several days. Finally time to walk across the stage and receive a graduating diploma holder that is empty as they don’t have our real diplomas yet.

One would think that the largest high school in the State of Tennessee, McGavock Comprehensive High School, would have things figured out by now with getting the diplomas ready to be truly handed out on graduation day. But do they? No, of course they don’t have things right. And who the hell was the boring speaker they got about making a difference in this world. I think I have made a pretty good difference in several people’s lives over the last few years. Oh yea, that’s for sure. And how many fucking valedictorians did we just have to listen give their lame three minute speeches each on time for change, and how much we all will miss each other. Was it twelve valedictorians? Really? Are you fucking kidding me? Can they not just pick one? Oh wait that would lead to hurting someone’s feelings and we can’t have anyone’s feeling being hurt as that would be an actual real world experience.

There she is. They just called out Sarah Hotchkin’s name to come up on stage to get her award for never missing a fucking day of school since all the way back to 1st grade. I was ready to punch her in the face as I think most of us were when they called her name out. She was the reason most of us would get sick during the school year as she always came to school sick or not sick. I remember one time they tried to send her home and Sarah even wanted to go home but her mom made her stay until lunch to get a full day credit in. Ridiculous these parents! And then the entire auditorium stands and claps for her never missing a day? Hello people, she caused all of us to get sick due to her going to school even when she was sick. I do believe almost the entire senior class couldn’t stand her and most of us had gotten sick because of her

and her stupid desire to make it with never missing a day. I will not miss her for sure. No way! Congratulations! This will probably be the highlight of her life.

Daniel Stephen Williams,” I heard my name called out over the speaker system. Oh yea, sounds good I thought. Well this is it, twelve years of misery finished.

I start walking up the steps. Don’t trip I am thinking, There’s Principal Baltimore. He was always good to me. He is smiling. I am smiling. I meet him at the designated spot on the stage. I look down to make sure I am on the X they taped on the ground.

I am.

Shake with right hand, Grab folder with left hand, Look to left, Smile, Wait for flash.

Wow! I’m blinded now. That Flash was super bright. I can’t see. Fuck, this isn’t good. Ok, vision coming back now.

Start Walking. One step in front of the other. Easy peasy.

I finally reach the other side of stage, down the four steps to main floor. Vision all the way back now. Oh yea, I made it without tripping once.

Glance up into the crowd. There of course is a huge crowd with over seven hundred graduating.

There’s mom all smiling big and waving. Hummm, who’s that man standing there beside her? It isn’t Trace, her boyfriend as he couldn’t make it today as he was out of the country on business. I wonder who that is. Mom and that guy sure are talking a lot.

Oh look, there’s perfect brother Mike looking bored to death too. Ha, good! I can’t believe he came from Knoxville to see me graduate. We hadn’t talked much since he left two years earlier. We were only two years apart in age but in the brain category, he was generations ahead of me. He is so freaking smart. I guess mom made him come today. Ha. Oh how nice. Mike gave me the loser sign. Whatever perfect brother. I returned the sign and we both smiled.

Where’s dad? I thought to myself with a laugh. Hate that he couldn’t make it today. Not!

Get back to my seat. I didn’t trip once. Row sits down together. Pretty good I thought.

I just realized that there now is no more high school. Fuck yea! Time to start making some real plans!

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