Chapter 43 - Not a peep
"Okay, now the front line again."
Mrs. Martinez instructed and almost the entire room groaned.
Graduation practice had been going on for close to two hours and even I was getting tired of all of it.
I felt Taylor's hand squeeze my side as he leaned closer.
"Got your speech all ready, Einstein?"
I smiled and nodded.
My speech had been complete for weeks. I didn't have any issues finding the words to say to my fellow classmates. I just wrote what popped into my head and made Jackson read it five times before handing it over to Mrs. Martinez to proofread, she approved and after that, I pushed the actual speech part out of my mind.
Words were easy, it was the speaking part that my mind was getting hung up on.
"When can I hear it?"
"Tomorrow, the same time everyone else does."
I jabbed my finger into his side and he winced.
An hour later we were sitting on a dockside restaurant looking over the menu.
"What can I get you to drink?"
The middle-aged waitress asked Taylor, he grinned at her and I almost rolled my eyes. He had no shame, I was almost positive he would flirt with anyone who would let him.
"Sweet tea, please ma'am."
"And what about your lovely girlfriend?"
She asked as she directed her attention toward me.
"A water with lemon, please."
I nodded in her direction and Taylor eyed me suspiciously.
"What was that?"
He asked as the waitress walked away to fill our drink orders.
I shrugged. I had no idea what it was. People assumed we were a couple all the time and I was always quick to correct them but I had grown tired of wondering what I was to the people in my life. And to the one person who had removed himself from it. I hadn't seen or spoken to Beau since he walked away from me last and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I was just going through the motions, trying to please the people who were still in my daily life.
I guess in a way, not correcting the waitress was my subtle way of hurting Beau when I had no other outlet. But he would never know so it was useless. And more importantly, not one single part of me wanted to hurt him anyway.
"Still haven't heard from him?"
"Not a peep."
I shook my head and Taylor moved into the seat next to me and threw his arm around my shoulder.
"I wish I had something wise to tell you, but I don't know shit about love River."
It wasn't fine. But maybe it would be.
The next morning I fixed my hair and put on an extra coat of lip gloss before slipping my navy graduation gown over my white dress.
Jackson was armed with his camera, snapping away candid photos as I walked around the house.
I sat down on the couch to buckle the straps on my sandals when I felt a heavy feeling in my chest.
He wouldn't miss my graduation. There was no way.
Anytime I let my mind think about Beau, my heart felt like it weighed my entire body down. I stood up, despite it, and walked to my car with Jackson right behind me.
Whenever I thought of Beau and his sad eyes telling me not to forget how I felt about him all I wanted to do was a breakdown. Because I couldn't understand why he would think that I was capable of forgetting something like that.
I plastered a smile across my face and stood with my classmates as we took pictures. I sat through the beginning of the ceremony and listened to all of the speakers.
When it was my turn and I was called up to the stage the only thing that registered in my mind was how much of a better view I would have from the podium.
If Beau was here, I would see him.
I said the words of my speech with little to no emotion, similar to a robot. I had it written out in front of me but I never looked down once, I'd memorized every word so that I could scan the sea of faces for his.
He wouldn't miss this. He couldn't.
I was in my last paragraph, it was the characteristically sappy part that all Valedictorian speeches had. Something about going out and conquering the world and that was when my eyes locked with his.
He was standing off in the far left corner in his uniform and I clenched my fists, letting my nails dig into my skin. I needed to concentrate. I looked down at the papers in front of me and finished my speech with a little less weight in my chest.
People clapped, I walked back to my seat but my eyes stayed glued to his. I only broke eye contact when I had to turn to face the stage once I made it back to my seat.
Time passed slowly as each row of students stood up and waited for their names to be called. When it was finally my row's turn I carefully turned my head back in his direction but he wasn't there anymore. I looked through the rest of the crowd as I was waiting on the ramp near the stage but couldn't find him.
Mrs. Martinez called my name and I walked toward her, she handed me my diploma and shook my hand.
"It was a true pleasure getting to know you River. You're going to knock those people at Yale on their asses."
A laugh somehow made its way through my body. I knew I liked her.
I found my way back to my seat and after the last student's name was called, we all threw our graduation caps in the air and everyone clapped.
I was sure this was supposed to be a happy time. And it was except my mind was so distracted. Everyone took their time trying to find the hats that had their names written inside but I couldn't get out of the building fast enough.
I pushed past them and walked out of the building and directly to the parking lot but I already knew he was gone.
I had so many things to say to him. So much to tell him. Mainly that I had made my choice. I had probably made it the second I opened the acceptance letter but I still had to toy with the idea of staying near Jackson. Half of me wasn't ready to leave, but the other half couldn't wait to get away.
I didn't need a pro/con list like Beau had made me promise to make, I didn't need to think about it nonstop.
My gut told me, Yale, so that's what I chose.
My gut also told me, Beau. And even despite whatever was going on, I wasn't prepared to give up just yet.