Home > Significance (Significance #1)

Significance (Significance #1)
Shelly Crane

one

I waited for this day, for this one thing to complete me. To wrap up seventeen and three quarter years of my life and to set a pretty bow on it in the form of a graduation cap. I waited for this one sheet of paper to tell me I had done something right.

I sat in my assigned seat, along with my classmates, in alphabetical order in front of the gym. The ones up front were in order by achievements, their faces lit with the relief of scholarships and graduation parties with gifts and family and friends. And getting out of this town.

I was numb. I had waited for this moment but now, I didn’t feel good inside. I didn’t feel complete, didn’t feel achieved. I felt like I’ve slid by and barely made it. Which is exactly what I’d done. I despised school. I was in the early release program for students who work after school, so we got out at 1:00 instead of 3:00 like everyone else. I was barely here and when I was I didn’t want to be.

I know I sound bitter. Believe me. I know. But I’m seventeen, graduating a year early, and was on the fast track to being valedictorian or whatever else but things happened to me that I just couldn’t handle. And so, here I was, sullen, slightly unhappy and skidding by.

The ‘things’ I speak of, well, number one was that my mom left. She was an upstanding, stay at home mom, PTA loving, frugal grocery shopping-coupon clipping guru of the community. And she just left us. Just like that. She decided out of nowhere that my dad had been holding her back all these years. She didn’t love him and she needed time to start a new life, without me there to pester her. So she did.

She moved to California along with every cent in my dad’s checking account and the one supposed to be for my college fund. I wanted to laugh at the Cali cliché but I guess it didn’t suit her for long. She moved somewhere else but I refused to speak to her anymore when she called. All she ever talked about was how sorry she was, that she just couldn’t do it anymore, that she was happy now, that I didn’t know what it was like to live with my dad. Yeah right. I’d counter that I was the only one still living with him and she’d hang up.

I’m sure her newest boyfriend, who’s ten years younger than her, can console her.

So here we are, present day, graduation day. I’m waiting patiently for the m’s to roll around so I can grab my diploma and hear the one person that’ll be in the stands clap for me, my dad.

I glanced up in front of me to see Kyle looking back. He smiled.

“You look like you’re in your own little world back there. You ok?”

“Yeah, I’m just ready to be done with this.”

He turned more fully in his chair, putting his arms on the back of it.

“Come on. It’s graduation day. Shouldn’t you be happy?” he reasoned. I just shrugged. “You wanna do something tonight? My parents are throwing this lousy party for me, but I’m looking for an excuse to leave early.”

“I don’t want to be your excuse, Kyle.”

He paled, his brow bunched together.

“Ah, Mags, I didn’t mean it like that.” He sighed. “My party is from five to seven. I’ll have plenty of time to do something with you, I just didn’t want it to seem so much like a date, ya know,” he explained and looked at me bashfully. “In case you said no, again.”

“Oh.” I felt an inch and half tall. “Kyle, I-” I was this close to telling him no, once more. But I thought about it. I have always told him no. I haven’t been on a date in a year. Every since my life fell under my mom’s pointy heels. He was always sweet to me and he was probably leaving soon anyway for college. What could it hurt? “Ok. Yeah. We can do something.”

“Really?” he said shocked.

“Yeah. What time do you want to go?”

“Is your dad throwing you a party or something?”

“No.”

Ha. Yeah right.

“Oh. Uh, how about I text you? I’m sure it’s fine but I gotta ask my dad for the car. Mine’s in the shop.”

“Ok, let me give you my number,” I said and started to pull up my gown to reach my pocket.

“I have it.” I looked at him curiously and he grinned. “I asked Rebecca for it a couple weeks ago. I was gonna call you but I never, uh, got up the nerve.”

He looked a little embarrassed and I couldn’t help but giggle a little at his obvious hand-in-the-cookie-jar expression. He was nice looking. No movie star stud, just a normal, light brown hair, brown eyed nice guy. We’d hung out a lot over the years in our group of friends, but never alone.

“Well, maybe you should have.”

“Would you have talked to me?”

I didn’t want to lie and I didn’t want to give him false hope so I just smiled and shrugged, hoping to pull off a little flirt. It must have worked, he grinned wider.

“Ok, I’ll text you tonight.”

“Great,” my mouth said but my head was already dreading it.

Then I saw the people ahead of him start to stand one by one as their names were called.

“Kyle Jacobson.”

He looked back and grinned at me once more as he made his way on stage. There was still about eight people before me. I watched him make his way to the stage and saw his parents and a large group of others stand and applaud loudly for him, a couple whooping and hooting. He grabbed his diploma and then made a show of muscles. Everyone laughed as he bounded down the stairs. He was a crack up. Everyone liked him and voted him class clown in superlatives. He was popular but never really dated anyone. He was always nice to me, though. I used to hang out with that crowd, before everything happened.

After my mom left, my dad was lost. He went a little ‘nuts’. He quit going to work and got fired from a job he’d had for over fifteen years at the school board and now works at the wood mill for a quarter of what he made before. So, I had to get in the work release program and get a job because we had no extra money for anything other than food that I needed or wanted.

When I told my mom all this, when I explained how I had to get a job to help and how dad was so destroyed by what she’d done, she said it was good for us to experience a little bit of heartache and hard work for a change. That was it. That was the last straw.

That was the day I decided to never speak to her again.

“Maggie Masters.”

I heard my name and looked up. Everyone was looking and I realized that my name had been called more than once. I blushed and giggled nervously as I made my way up to the stage. I chuckled under my breath as I half expected the announcer to call out Mags or Magster or Maggsy. No one called me by my real name; hardly ever.

I took my diploma and turned to look for dad. He was sitting there. Just sitting there, not taking pictures, not clapping, not smiling, just watching stoically.

I frowned and made my way down to the end of the platform and was lifted into warm arms. Familiar warm arms.

“Congratulations,” he whispered into my hair.

“Chad. Don’t.”

“Mags, come on.” He put me down but didn’t let me go as he looked at me pleadingly. “We graduated. Let’s celebrate. Can’t you let go of the past, just for today?”

I looked up to his black hair. The dark short locks that any girl would love to run her fingers through. His tan skin and brown eyes with his lean Friday night football arms that always held me like I mattered. Oh, how I missed him, but he was the one who left me.
“You certainly know how to let go of things,” I countered.

“Maggie.” He sighed exasperatingly, like I was being unreasonable and it made me fume even more. “Look. That was almost year ago. And you know I wouldn’t have broken up with you if you’d told me what was going on with your mom and all.”

“Oh. That makes me feel so much better,” I said and let the sarcasm drip.

“You know what I mean. We’d had that talk, a lot. I’m leaving, we both knew it when we started seeing each other. I thought we agreed it’d be easier if we calmed down a little and just were friends the last year of school. I didn’t date anyone else, you know that. It wasn’t because I didn’t want you.”

It was true. He hadn’t been on one date this whole school year that I’d known about. Him and his friends even made a pact to go to prom together as a group. There were a lot of angry girls over this pact as it appeared it caught on and almost the whole football team went stag.

“I know that. But you haven’t talked to me all year,” I said softly.

“Maggie. You wouldn’t return my phone calls. You avoided me at lunch and then started working after school. What else could I do?”

He was right. The only time I talked to him was to yell at him one month after he broke up with me and my mom left. Coincidentally, it was three days after she left that he decided to make the decision for the both of us. The decision that we’d talked about but not come to a conclusion to.

I told him he sucked for deciding that right then was the time to dump me. He said he was sorry, he was there for me. He tried to take it back, even tried to kiss me and hold me but I would have none of it.

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