Despite my best efforts to not think of him, it made me think of Nick. If he were here, would he be making faces at me from the crowd right now? Rolling his eyes at me and jerking his head at Shawn and Nancy’s retreating forms as if to say can you believe them? Or maybe he would be just smiling at me, the way he does, and I would just have to smile back or melt into a puddle. He’d find me after the ceremony, regardless of how hectic it got with all the graduates and parents. He’d wrap his arms around me and tell me how proud of me he was. I’d probably even get a kiss and a grin. Maybe we’d even sneak out, off to find our own private spot. I unclasped my watch and started fidgeting with it. I spun it between two of my fingers, trying to keep myself distracted by seeing how fast I could spin it without dropping it. Crying wouldn’t be unexpected at graduation, but crying this early would earn me some odd looks. I spun the watch a little bit faster between my fingers. Suddenly, I heard “We love you, Bethie!” I grinned instantly and snapped my head up to look at the Tree House Group that had yelled. Shawn and Nancy were making their ways back to their seats. Erin and Emily were waving frantically at me, so I gave a little wave back.
“Well, you seem to be loved like crazy.” Josh placed his hand on my shoulder, and gave it a little squeeze.
I turned around to face him. “Oh, I know I’m loved like crazy, but who’s going to love you?” I teased.
“Someone will,” Josh said with a wink, as Pomp and Circumstance started to play through the loud speakers.
As for the actual graduation ceremony, it was, on the whole, unimpressive. Our valedictorian gave some generic speech about the tough choices we were going to have to face in the incoming years. Our principal gave the exact same speech he gave every year about how it wasn’t the end of high school, but instead it was the “Beginning of the rest of our lives.” And then we got to walk. I was a little bit giddy as we started to reach the end of the ‘C’s and when they finally called “Bethany Mary Davis,” I was trying not to outright laugh while crossing the stage, having a stupid little moment in my head where I imagined Nancy worrying about how stupid she looked by calling me Elizabeth last week.
Yes, I assured her in my mind, You did look incredibly stupid. I stopped at the side of the stage in the designated spot to turn my tassel to the other side, and as I was moving it, I point with my rolled up diploma at the section where the Tree House Crowd was sitting. The cheer that rose up made me smile even wider, and I sank back into my chair.
“We did it.” I said to no one in particular.
“Now the hard part starts,” Margaret Isabella Daniels said on my right, and I silently responded you have no idea.