Tonight was the night of all nights. It was a time
honoured tradition, a rite of passage, a night we would all remember and a
night where we could make as much mayhem as possible.
It was Senior Prank Night.
Senior Prank Night was basically a night where the senior class invades the school for a night to trash the classrooms, set up pranks, and basically channel our inner Weasley Twins. We had a meeting earlier in the week to sort out what pranks we would be doing, and divided up teams. There was a team who would go around all the bathrooms and put coloured food dye in the soap dispensers (the original plan was fake tan but one girl said that it could be dangerous if someone is allergic or really sensitive) as well as flour in the hand dryers. Others would go around to every classroom and take all the furniture out to the football field, and then duct tape it all together. Another group would TP the gym. Another group would be going around and taking all the locks off lockers that weren’t closed and attaching them to the gate out front. There were a few other pranks that I just couldn’t remember, but I thought all of it was pretty genius.
Phillip, Felicity, Josh, Dustin and I were in a team together, and we were in charge of lining the entrance hall with plastic cups filled with water. There were a few things we weren’t allowed to bring into the school. Like water guns, or set up trip wires, or anything to do with eggs. Otherwise our limits were only defined by our imaginations.
“Why don’t you guys start from that end and we’ll start this side and work our way in and then down?” I said. The entrance hall was the main way into the high school. You had to come in this way to get to class. By blocking it off it would force the younger students to go the long way to get to class. We were excused from class for the day afterwards in order to witness the result of our chaos.
“Okay sounds good.” Dustin said. Josh held up empty pitchers of water and laughed like an evil villain. It was comical and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Where’s the little bundle of joy?” Dustin asked, pouting. “I having been able to meet her yet.”
“My mom is watching Flora tonight.” Felicity said.
“How does that work anyway?” Dustin asked. “How do you balance school and a baby?”
“Well, there’s a day care centre just up the road. And because we’ll be finished with classes soon, she’s going to be there for a little while longer. Otherwise I look after her as much as I can.”
“And the father?”
“Sends weekly cheques.” Felicity replied in a tone that clearly said, drop it.
“So,” Josh said, “How are we all getting to Prom?”
“Well, my dad said we could get a limo.” Phillip said as he came back with two pitchers filled with water. Felicity gave him a look. “Relax, I got it from the water tank. It’s not drinking water.”
“Would we all pitch in?” Dustin asked.
“No, dad said he’d take care of it. A graduation present he said.” Phillip stated.
“Sounds good to me.” I shrugged.
“Yeah definitely.” Josh nodded.
“Do you have a date, Dustin?” Felicity asked.
“Not yet, no. I need to ask someone soon though.”
“One of the girls on the paper, Ruby, she’s a junior but she thinks you’re cute.”
Dustin looked interested. “Really?”
“Mm hmm.” Felicity nodded.
“Well I may just have to go and introduce myself.” Dustin said cheekily.
I grinned at him and continued to place cups on the floor while Felicity filled them with water as we went. It was tedious work. You’d be surprised how many cups were actually needed to fill just a third of the hall. We kept at it though, talking and laughing to pass the time. At some point somebody hijacked the office speakers and blasted the Top 40 throughout the entire school. That really helped us to get in the mood for celebrating and having fun. Phillip disappeared after a while to get water and didn’t come back. The others and I were starting to get annoyed after fifteen minutes and he still wasn’t back.
“Alright, I’m going to look for him.” I said, getting up off the floor.
“Okay.” Felicity nodded, turning back to talk with Josh.
I walked out of the main entrance and around the school, heading to the water tank. I knew that’s where he’d be because he mentioned it before. It was cold outside and the sky glittered with stars. I crossed my arms to keep warm as I walked. When I got a little bit closer to the water tank I heard voices.
“…not talking about this anymore.”
“Oh come on! Please! This is ridiculous! I know you’re just playing with her.” That was Melanie’s voice.
“Why does this matter so much to you? Don’t you have better things to do than worry about my relationships?” Phillip’s voice snapped. They weren’t just talking. They were practically shouting at each other.
“So what? Phillip, I want you back.” Oh hell no! “I know you’re only with that Rhea girl because her father saved your life.”
My jaw dropped but I kept walking.
“What?!” Phillip cried. “Are you crazy? I’m grateful to him and, sure if it weren’t for the accident I wouldn’t have talked to her, but I’m with Rhea because she’s amazing. She’s kind, and caring and smart. She cares about me and my dreams, supports what I want to do, not what people want me to do.”
“I never supported you?!”
“You didn’t come to visit me in the hospital. Not once.”
“I was away.”
“I would have come to see you if it was you lying in a coma.” Phillip said a little quieter. “But you know what? It doesn’t matter because we’d been falling apart for months before that.”
“Baby, I want you back in my life.”
“No, you want a trophy boyfriend to take you to Prom.” Phillip said. I was getting closer to them now.
“You’ve just forgotten how good we are together!” Melanie cried desperately. I could tell from the way she talked that she really missed Phillip. Maybe this wasn’t an act for her.
“You’re crazy, Mel.” He said, sounding a little shocked.
“Look, I’ll prove it to you!”
Fate seemed to have a sick sense of humour. Because at that moment I rounded the corner and saw Melanie kissing Phillip. But that wasn’t what made my insides shrivel up to the size of a peanut and make my feel like I’d inhaled battery acid. It was the fact that Phillip his has hands on her waist, his eyes closed, and was kissing her back.
They hadn’t seen me, or heard me coming, so I just did the logical thing and turned around and ran. I ran all the way back to the entrance hall and stopped, bracing a hand on the cold stone wall and tried to catch my breath. I couldn’t believe this.
I just couldn’t.
If she’d kissed him and pushed her away, okay I could get over that. But he didn’t. He stood there. He. Kissed. Her. Back.
I didn’t feel like crying. I didn’t feel upset. I was just angry. I felt like he’d betrayed my trust. Sure he’d said all those things to Melanie about me, but words were powerful, sure, but if they’re not backed up by action they’re worth nothing.
I shook my head and walked away, repeating the words that I’d said to myself in the hospital all those months ago, moments after I’d kissed Phillip.
“Stupid.” I whispered, “Absolutely stupid. What were you thinking?”
Exams were an absolute nightmare. It was hard to stick to my schedule because I was avoiding Phillip as much as possible, and when he did manage to find some time with me, I always answered with short, offhand replies. He wasn’t stupid. He knew something was up. I dodged his kisses, pulled faces at his immature (albeit clever) sexual jokes. I even refused to hold his hand, choosing instead to wrap my arms around my text books or shove them in my pockets.
It took four weeks for exams to fully be over for me and it was a weight off my shoulders. I thought I did pretty well considering I could answer the majority of the questions as soon as I read them. The essays for English were a little harder, but I struggled through. English was more Felicity’s area of expertise after all. Results would be first sent off with our college applications, then sent via email to us, the seniors. Doctor Alevin had sent a glowing letter of recommendation to every university and college I applied to, just as promised, so I was feeling okay.
Graduation was today. It felt strange to be wearing a black graduation gown and cap, a nice little blue dress underneath. I decided to wear nice, comfortable ballet flats for this. We would be standing in line for quite a while to receive our diplomas.
Felicity came up to me, balancing Flora on her hip, Flora had grown so much in such a short amount of time. She had adorable chubby cheeks and was dressed in a cute little sundress with a matching headband.
“Hey,” I smiled. I kissed Flora on her cheek. “You ready for today?”
Josh came up behind Felicity and he put an arm around her. I noticed that the way those two acted around each other had changed since Senior Prank Night (which had caused absolute hell the next day) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d started dating.
“I’m not sure,” Felicity replied, “It feels surreal, to be graduating. Knowing I won’t see anybody from the class again till the reunion will be so weird.”
“Not as weird as going off to college. Being adults with adult responsibilities.”
“Already have one,” Felicity said, looking at Flora with affectionate eyes. I held out my hands and Felicity handed Flora over to me immediately, settling into Josh’s arms easier.
My parents decided to come over at that moment, camera in hand. My mom took photos of Josh and Felicity first since they were already standing together. They made a cute couple. They both had dark hair and tanned skin, but where Felicity’s eyes were ice blue, Josh’s were brown and where she was petite, he was broad and tall. They looked like one of those model couples you see in magazines.
“Okay, you and Felicity and Flora next.” Mom said, waving me into the picture. I shifted Flora so she was between Felicity and I. Josh and Dad made faces behind Mom to get Flora to look at the camera. After that, Felicity and I took a photo, just the two of us.
“Is it my turn?” Phillip asked, walking over and looking dashing in his robes. Damn him and his hotness. Dustin had wandered over as well and was shaking my father’s hand.
“Yeah, of course, jump in.” Mom said. She wasn’t aware of what happened on Prank Night and I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell her. Phillip put his arm around my waist and I put mine around his. I focused on Flora and the way she looked so cute fussing in Felicity’s arms that I couldn’t help but smiled widely. The camera flashed and I stepped away as quickly as possible.
“Just the boys?” Mom called. Josh and Dustin went in for a photo and I went to stand next to Felicity. She turned the opposite way, her back to the boys and put her mouth close to my ear.
“Have you talked to him yet?” I’d told Felicity what happened pretty much straight away.
“Looks like you’re going to have to. You can’t avoid him forever. You’re sitting next to him for the speeches.”
“Don’t remind me.” I muttered.
“Okay, now everyone in!” my mom beamed. Felicity and I walked over to the boys and stood in front of them. It was the three girls in the front, the three boys in the back. Mom snapped a photo of us and then called for goofy faces. We each did that and laughed a little after that. I took a photo with my parents before we were all called to take our seats.
The ceremony was being held outside, with the seniors sitting in chairs on the football field while the parents and guests would sit in the bleachers. There was a temporary platform set up facing the crowd, where the Principal and Melanie would make speeches, but also where each of us would receive our diplomas. Unfortunately we had to sit alphabetically by our surnames, and mine was Keem, which would be right next to Kingston.
Right next to Phillip.
We all took our seats. I sat facing forward, hands folded in my lap and not looking at Phillip. He was sitting next to me, bouncing his knee up and down quickly and wrinkling his nose.
Halfway through the Principle’s speech I couldn’t take it anymore and reached out, stopping his leg movement. When I retracted my hand, his leg didn’t move and I sighed. I wasn’t really paying attention, more trying not to think about the heat, when Phillip leaned over.
“For gods sake, smile. Anybody would think you’re at a funeral.” He whispered. I didn’t look at him.
“Don’t talk to me.”
“Okay, now I definitely know I’ve done something wrong.”
I didn’t dignify him with an answer. I know I was being petty but I couldn’t help it. It was getting his attention and he was obviously showing some interest in trying to make it right, even though he didn’t know what ‘It’ is.
“Rhea, how can I fix something if I don’t know what I broke?”
“I saw you kissing Melanie on Prank Night. At the water tank.” My voice was barely above a whisper, but he heard me. I turned to look at him and saw his face was blank.
Yeah, that’s right. Be afraid, buddy.
“How much did you see?” he asked, voice quiet. I turned back to the front, watching the Principal smile around at the crowd as he made a lame joke that only a few people laughed at.
“Well, first I heard a little bit of your conversation. Then I saw you kissing her.”
“I didn’t kiss her. She kissed me.”
“I didn’t see you stop her.”
“I was caught off guard.”
“For a whole minute?” I raised an eyebrow. Phillip sat back.
“Did you see the part where I pushed her off me and walked away?”
“No.” I paused. “But that’s not the point.”
“What is?” He sighed.
“That you kissed her back.”
“I didn’t mean to. It just sort of happened.” Phillip sounded so sad now that it was hard for me not to turn to him and say I forgive him.
“And that’s supposed to be comforting?” I asked, clapping along with the crowd as the Principal stepped down and let Melanie take the podium. “The worst thing is you didn’t come talk to me about it. You didn’t admit what happened. Instead you hid it, like you were guilty.”
“Because I feel guilty.” Phillip whispered harshly. “I feel terrible for what happened between me and Melanie that night. I pushed her off me and told her to go screw herself and came to find you, but Felicity told me that you'd already left.”
“I didn’t want to talk to you.” I admitted.
“That was kind of dumb. If you had stayed we could have sorted it out right then. But after that night I lost my nerve and tried to forget about it.”
I sighed, listening to Melanie reflect on the last four years of high school and talk about our bright futures. I knew she was trying to sound motivational, but to me she just sounded a little condescending. Maybe I was biased.
“I’m sorry for hurting you that night.” Phillip said, reaching over and taking my hand. I let him. “Hurting you is the last thing I’d ever want to do.”
I knew he was being sincere and my anger all but melted away. “Sorry for acting like a jealous girlfriend.”
“Well, you are my girlfriend. And you’re kind of cute when you’re jealous.”
I smiled at him. Melanie finished her speech and the presentation of diplomas began. I was kind of glad to be able to get out of my seat and move around after so long. I was about a third of the way down the line, and I was glad of that too. I felt sorry for people who had last names beginning with something like W, because they had to wait quite a while.
After about ten minutes my names was called and I walked up, shook the hands of the principal, vice-principal and was presented my diploma by Melanie. She more like shoved it into my hands as she gave me the evil eye, but I wasn’t about to let her ruin my day. I waltzed off stage and back to my seat, Phillip not far behind me. We watched, hands intertwined as Dustin, then Felicity, then Melanie herself got their diplomas, until all the students were back in their seats.
“I present to you, this year’s graduating class!” Our former principal announced. As a single unit, the entire senior class rose up from their seats, ripped off their graduation caps and threw them up in the air with a cheer. Phillip surprised me when he wound an arm around my waist and pulled me in for a very long, very passionate, very public kiss.
“I’m sorry for being an idiot.” He said, resting his forehead on mine, brown eyes peering into mine pleadingly. “Forgive me.”
I smiled, “Okay,” I replied gently. Phillip grinned and scooped me up for a bone crushing hug, literally lifting me off the ground. His mouth near my ear, he whispered words that sent chills (the good kind) down my spine.
“I love you.”
I smiled so wide I feared my cheeks would never recover. “I love you too.”
He set me on the ground just as Josh, Felicity and Dustin pounced on us, enveloping us in a giant group huge where I’m pretty sure Josh was the only one who could breathe. I didn’t mind though.It was an awesome graduation.