Ch. One: Graduation 

“Johanna Clarisse Turner,” Dean Joyner announced.  The graduating class waited patiently for their names to be called before they had to walk across the stage in front of a couple hundred other students. I couldn’t believe that this was it. All of the hard work, late nights, and coffee runs led up to this moment. I was going to be a graduate of one of the most high-end colleges in America, or at least New York. As I stood in line before crossing the stage my mind wandered off to one of my many study sessions with my best friend Psylas.

“Can you believe we’re going to be graduating in less than a week?” he said excitedly.

“I could if we focused more on these study guides than the damn TV. Why would you turn on Weeds at a time like this Psylas?”

“Damn Jo, stressed much? We always watch Weeds while we’re studying, but I’ll turn it off.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap. I’m honestly just really stressed dude. These finals are going to make or break us and our English careers. There’s a lot on the line—ya know?”

“I know man, it’s fine. It’s acceptable to be stressed out at a time like this, I’ll go make some popcorn.”

“Johanna Clarisse Turner, are you here?” Dean Joyner repeated.

“Jo! Jo! Snap out of it! They called your name!” Psylas yelled across the crowd while the girl behind me nudged me back to reality.

I quickly shook my head and could feel my face turning beet-red. Crap, I always do this. Ever since I could remember I’ve always had these daydreams that my psychiatrists couldn’t get under control.

Finally, I took a step towards the stage and could feel the lights beating down on me. I could feel a few hundred eyes staring, watching as I walked towards Dean Joyner and the rest of the school board. My hands started to shake and turn sweaty the closer I got to receiving my fake diploma.

“I’ve always thought those diploma holders were so ridiculous,” I pondered. “Breath Jo, just breathe. You’ll make it across this stage and back to your seat in no time.”

I was only a few feet away from the Dean, but when I looked up it felt like the stage was expanding. The room started to spin and I started to feel queasy but I continued to push through. I was not going to let my anxiety take over my brain this time. This diploma took me almost five years to achieve, I can walk across a damn stage.

With my brain still reeling I finally made it to Dean Joyner.

“Are you okay Johanna? You seemed a little woozy back there. I hope everything’s alright. Congratulations,” Dean Joyner said as she shook my hand and passed me the tube with my fake diploma in it.

“Oh no, everything’s fine. Thank you, Dean it’s been an honor.”

I quickly turned towards the crowd and found Psylas beaming at me. His friendship meant more to me than anything, I don’t know if I would’ve made it through these past few years without him. Everyone I’ve met always thought I was some sort of weirdo for my random anxious moments and daydreams, but Psylas didn’t.
To be continued..

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