“Patricia Marcella Deerborn.” The Principal announced, beckoning my sister upon the wooden stage as an excited line of students clapped behind her.
I jumped to my feet as her name was called, hooting and hollering as I watched her take a few gentle steps onto the stage towards the principal that already had his hand extended towards her. I looked over to Ashley Moore, my best friend since we were just young kids, who looked just as pleased as I did. She gave me a solid thumbs up as I smiled back at her, quickly looking back to Patricia. I waved at her, but I noticed that her eyes were lingering through the sea of people before her. She had to be able to see me, she was waving at me from the line-up beforehand. Yet she continued to anxiously search the crowd, until she finally caught sight of whoever she was looking for. A smile rippled across her nervous face as she snatched a view of the person in question. I snapped my head back, searching for whoever it was that solely held her focus. I used Ash as a leaning post as I stepped onto the tips of my toes, desperately looking past all of the faces. That’s when I caught a glimpse of Matt Ellis, Patricia’s ex-boyfriend.
I rolled my eyes as I turned to face the stage again, watching as Patricia happily descended off the stage. I nudged Ashley, who looked at me with a confused expression.
“How is it my sister has a boyfriend before I do?” I mumbled, still clapping as I sulked in my own self-pity.
Ashley leaned in, keeping her eyes glued to the next student to come up on stage. “Because unlike you, Patricia knows how to play the field.”
I pretended to look horrified as Ashley burst out in laughter, both of us taking a seat. “I am not an anti-social freak, Ashley, but thanks for the confidence booster.”
For the next two hours we had to sit through the various students accepting their diplomas and then the numerous speeches which Ashley and I had trouble staying awake through. After the ceremony, we quickly scowered through the crowd of people in search for Patricia, carelessly pushing our way through. It took us awhile to locate her, but it was easy to spot her as soon as I saw Matt’s head poking up over the crowd.
I stumbled through the crowd until I reached the two, who were in the midst of hugging as I approached. I made sure to clear my throat so as to alert Patricia of my presence, but she didn’t seem to care either way. Finally, she pulled away from her embrace with Matt, hopping over to me so that she could wrap her arms around my shoulders to hug me.
“Congratulations, sis.” I whispered, raking my fingers through her soft hair that had spent almost three hours in the salon to achieve the perfect curls.
She snuggled her face further into my shoulder, holding me tighter than she had before. “Are you proud of me?”
I chuckled, “Of course I am, you little twerp.”
Ashley butted in on our private moment, poking Patricia on the shoulder to get her attention. “So what university did we decide on, young lady?”
I loved how Ashley had gone above and beyond to make a point to help me with raising Patricia, she had become a series regular in our household as of late. I needed all of the support I could get, as I was having trouble juggling my job and helping Patricia at home.
Patricia pulled away from the hug, straightening out her green graduation robes. She smiled as if she was accepting a great honour, looking to Matt briefly before she spoke. “UC Denver.”
I was so proud of Patricia as she had been accepted to a variety of colleges and universities in the neighbouring states, though I wasn’t too thrilled about her going all the way to Colorado. I couldn’t blame her for wanting to get away from Bon Resi, although it killed me to think she wouldn’t be with me anymore. The thought of living all alone in our house nearly made me sick, I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope without her around. But I reminded myself that Patricia going to university was in her best interest, that maybe it could help pull her out of the depression she has been in lately.
“Ooh, good choice, babes! So are you going to do that summer program where you get to stay with an actual student for three weeks? I bet that’ll be exciting.” Ashley nudged, watching as Patricia eyed me up momentarily.
“I think so, y’know, because I want to make sure it’s the right choice.” Patricia replied, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
As if Ashley was a dominating father, she stared up at Matt speculatively. “And what about you, mister? You actually going to college or are you just gonna hop on the working train?”
I loved the way Ashley didn’t care one way or another what people thought of her, especially people she didn’t consider family. She had become family to Patricia and I, we both appreciated her more now than ever.
Matt shifted nervously on his feet, rummaging in his pockets as he tried to think of the right thing to say. “Well, yeah, I got accepted.”
Before Ashley could speak, I interrupted. “Where to?”
I liked playing our games of Bad Cop, Bad Cop. We were perfect at this, especially being intimidating.
Patricia reached out for Matt’s hand, they held onto each other tightly. If I felt like it, I could probably break his wrist in twenty different ways. I didn’t trust that little shit as far as I could throw him.
“Matt got accepted to Denver, too.” Patricia announced, a little nervous to admit this new reveal but I could tell she was trying to hide her excitement.
I could tell Ashley was thinking the same thing I was, but neither of us wanted to say it. Matt and Tricia wouldn’t last past the first semester, they would both be going into different programs of study and would be meeting different groups of people. It was only a matter of time before this relationship played itself out for the last time. Knowing this information gave me little comfort, but I knew I had to trust that Patricia would come to her senses. Rarely do highschool relationships ever work out, especially long distance relationships.
After the entire graduation was over with and everyone started heading home, I allowed Patricia to go out with Matt for some icecream, though Ashley quickly ordered that they be back home no later than nine-thirty. They were happy to have some alone time, though I wasn’t. Ashley had to head home to do some things around her apartment, promising to visit me in the morning.
That left me all alone in our ranch-style house, listening to the sound of the leaky faucet as it dripped slowly into the sink. I sat at the island counter until Patricia came home, staring at the piles of overdue bills that lay before me.