The dreadfully happy day had finally arrived. He put on his cap and gown and headed back to join his classmates, waving to his parents and siblings as he went. He joined the line of strangers he’d seen every day for four years. Many were too excited to stand still, talking about what they were going to do after graduation.
Some talked about later that day, others later that week, and still others talked about the years to come. All of them had plans, all but him. Most of them were going on to college. Others had jobs lined up, or were already working. They talked of moving out, of living on their own. He thought of how he hated school, of how relieved he was being out.
Most of them had chosen careers, or at least majors. They knew what they wanted, and were prepared to get it. They were choosing colleges and planning on what classes they would take. The line started to move, the ceremony was beginning.
The students all filed out onto the field, into pre-defined rows. They smiled as they walked out onto the field, waved to family and friends. Flashes went off like silent machine guns from the bleachers. Relatives called out or waved. Friends whistled and called their names. They were the heroes of the hour.
Finally everyone was quite and the speakers began their speeches. Students and spectators shuffled their feet and shifted in their chairs. Everyone else was anxious, but he was bored. He thought the ceremony was pointless. His mind wandered as the speakers went on about the students’ futures, about college and careers. But he didn’t think about the future. The future was just some distant place read about but never seen.
The speakers finished and started calling up graduates. The students all stood up and got ready. Spectators picked up schedules and tried to figure out when their graduate was going to walk up and accept his/her diploma. Each student smiled broadly as they accepted their empty diploma cases.
When all the students were back in their places the speaker told them to switch their tassels to the other side of their caps and declared them graduates. Everyone cheered, some hugging each other in their excitement. He watched as caps flew into the air. He saw the happy faces and heard the laughter.
The ceremony was over. The students started filing off to join their families and friends. They congratulated each other and smiled at each other. For a moment, he felt connected. He felt like he really was one of them, marching off into the future. Then the moment passed, and he was alone, walking among happy strangers towards some uncertain destination.
After collecting his diploma, he rejoined his family and went home to his graduation party. He quickly removed his cap and gown, they were not for him. He felt guilty, he hadn’t accomplished anything. He had barely graduated. He didn’t deserve the attention, he didn’t even have any goals, or any hope for the future. The future was just a misty haze, no different than the present.
This was the sixth assignment in a creative writing class I took several years ago. I can't remember what the assignment was, but this was pretty much my graduation day in a nutshell (I so hated high school!).
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