• Bre'a Belle

Chapter 37: Congratulations

I thought I was walking through that tunnel that people always talk about when they've died. The sight of a bright white light definitely had me convinced that I was crossing over to the other side. My eyelids fluttered and I took a few deep breaths, struggling because of what felt like an elephant was sitting on me. The light was the only thing I was able to see from laying flat on my back. Please tell me I'm not dead, I said to myself. The events that landed me here began to flood into my mind and I started to panic. It took me a minute to put all of the pieces all together and I thought that there was no way that I could have died. It hadn't been that bad.


My entire body felt stiff as a board. I'm not dead, I thought, trying to convince myself that I hadn't faded into the afterlife. I squeezed my eyes shut before blinking a few more times. Everything was becoming more clear and the light above me was just the florescent lights in the ceiling of a hospital room. I looked down to see my body dressed in one of those God awful gowns with a plain white sheet neatly draped over me. I wiggled my toes at the sight of my feet sticking up from underneath the blanket.


"Fantastic," I whispered, laying my head back down on the pillow. I was relieved. I had suddenly realized that I was afraid to die because I was finally at a point where I was afraid to leave so much behind. I pulled my arms up to rub my hands over my face, but nearly knocked the shit out of myself when a cast that covered my right hand, all the way up my forearm, collided with my face. That was when I remembered shattering my hand against Dean's mouth. "Fuck," I mumbled. I turned my head to look around the room. It was mostly empty apart from Danny slumped over on the couch next to me. "Babe," I said softly. He didn't budge. He looked too peaceful for me to wake up, but I began to worry about where Fauna was.


"Danny!" I hissed a little louder. I went to roll over onto my right side. "Shiiiiiit!" I screamed, grabbing it and was quickly filled with regret. That's when I remembered the sharp sound of a gun filling up our apartment. "Syd!" he yelled, jumping over to me from the couch. "You have to take it easy and rest," he said, scalding me. I rolled my eyes, annoyed that he was trying to boss me around, but also grateful that he was still by my side. I began to feel like shit for what I said to him. I turned to look at him with tears in my eyes as he stroked my forehead. "Don't even worry about it. You're a terrible liar," he said with a smirk. My heart was turning flips. "I'm still sorry," I said, trying to force myself to smile. "I know, but you couldn't get rid of me if you wanted to."


The door creaked open with all of our friends stepping in, one by one. "Grab ya glocks when you see Tupac!" Mel sang. "Call the cops when you see Tupac!" Jamie chimed in. "Who shot me, but ya punks didn't finish, now ya bouta feel the wrath of a menace!" Candace finished. Reggie and Derek came in behind them, holding their stomachs because of their uncontrollable laughter. I smiled from ear to ear as Danny carefully raised the head of my bed and helped me get comfortable. "Definitely not as bad ass as Tupac, but I'll take it," I said with a shrug. "I wouldn't go as far as calling you Tupac. The bullet grazed you. It took a pretty big chunk out of you and you lost a good amount of blood, but you'll live. We don't need any East coast, West coast beef," Danny spoke up and said, wanting to be the bigger person. I kind of feared what was to become of Dean after the bullshit he pulled. I knew that no matter how much Danny tried to hide it, I knew that he and Ryan were cooking up a plan. That was what came natural to them and he couldn't convince me otherwise.


"You shattered every bone in your hand. Didn't I teach you how to fight?" I heard the voice of my dad say as he stepped into the room. "She came out with a cast and ten stitches to the hip. I think that was enough. We could have lost our only baby," my mother said, her tone sounding disapproving. I could see the worry and relief on all of their faces. I really could have died. With the way that my hand was itching inside this damn cast, death didn't sound like a bad idea. "Now Cousin, all we have to do is graduate," Candace said proudly. She was right. It felt like I had been dragged through hell and back within the past year and becoming a mom and a high school graduate was the ultimate prize.


I sat there for a few minutes, surrounded by the people I loved and cared about the most, except for Fauna. "WHERE THE HELL IS MY BABY?!" I shouted with my eyes bugging out. "Calm your tits! She's with Ryan and Jada," Danny snapped. "Calm your tits?" Mom asked raising an eyebrow. I started cracking up when my mind was at ease about my baby being in good hands. "Parents wouldn't understand," Candace said with a shrug. "Parents wouldn't understand?" Danny, Reggie, Rachel, and I said in unison. "Fine! Old people!" she snapped, rolling her eyes jokingly. "Old people?!" Mom and Dad replied. I could feel the positive energy in the air for once and none of them truly knew how thankful I was for it all.

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"Our girls," Aunt Lily said with a sigh. "Grab them babies and scoot in together!" Tess ordered. I hiked Fauna up on my hip, standing on the end next to Candace. Rachel hiked Flora on the opposite hip, scooting in closely on the other end next to Melanie. "Smile!" the three of them said together. The flashes from the cameras nearly blinded us. When we were finished with our photo shoot, Rachel and I passed the girls off to Reggie and Danny.


"All graduates to the middle school gym!" Mrs. Cooper, the school counselor said loudly over the voices of our classmates. The five of us smiled at each other. We stood there in our sky high heels, our legs feeling like noodles. This was the moment before the moment that we all had been waiting for. "It's almost showtime," I said, smiling even wider. I looked over my shoulder as the crowd started to migrate out of the cafeteria in a sea of brown and gold caps and gowns.


Danny caught my eye, giving me a thumbs up and a wink. In response, I pressed my hand that wasn't in a cast to my lips and blew him a kiss. It took me back to that football game all over again and my heart fluttered at the memory of the first time I laid eyes on him. Things wouldn't change much for us, but they would definitely never be the same. We all had grown up much quicker than we expected to one hundred and eighty days ago. We didn't know what we would do with our lives or who we were going to become, but we took the time to figure it out, whether we wanted to or not and that's what mattered the most.


As we took our walk down the familiar hallway with bricks on one side and enormous windows on the other that connected the two sides, Candace's hand found mine. I fondly remembered the mornings where we'd run for our lives up and down this hallway when we would skip class. The huge windows gave you a view of the high school buildings and stairwells, allowing us to see if we were about to run into any staff members and get caught. My heart was full. She didn't know how excited I was to step back into those memories when there had been so much darkness between us for so long.


Mel and Jamie skipped happily behind us while Rachel found her way to my other side. I remembered all of the brawls and damn near riots we witnessed and were apart of every year. No matter how crazy things got, we always had each others backs. It came natural and I couldn't thank them enough for sticking it out with me to the very end, even if we almost lost Candace along the way.


When we rounded the corner, we were faced with the hallway lined with maroon lockers on both sides. I couldn't help but smile at the memory of the time the four of them came looking for me one night during a basketball game and they walked up on me making out with Eli Andrews back in the eighth grade. I never thought they were going to let me live that shit down, but they never let it leave our inner circle. I remembered the evenings where we would race to the buses, still trying to hold onto the little things we did back in elementary school.


The end of the hallway pulled me back to the first time we walked through the doors of Mount View, hand in hand, just as we were now. We were terrified. Our fifth grade teachers had filled our heads with horror stories from back in the day where they had metal detectors at the doors. We were told that it was a place where someone would walk right up to you and want to fight you just because they didn't like the shirt you were wearing. Even as little girls, we were ready to challenge that and say fuck you to anyone that had a problem with any of the five of us.


I had stopped all of us at the door with our peers moving anxiously around us and pulled them in closely. "We'll survive this. I don't care what those ass hats back at Welch Elementary said. We got this. We'll always have each others backs and we'll love each other to the very end. Best friends forever," eleven year old me said proudly. The memory of my little speech brought tears to my eyes as we approached the entrance of the gym.


The four of them stood there with me as everyone else moved into the gym. "It's okay Syd," Jamie said with a smile on her face and her eyes turning red. "We did it," Rachel said proudly as she sniffled. "We fucking did it," Candace added in amazement. A tear rolled down my cheek. "You bet your ass we did," I said with my voice cracking.

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"Sydney Gayle Trent," Mr. Henry said slowly. A round of applause rolled through the crowd of the Bob N. Jack Auditorium and my heart raced. "That's Sydney motherfucking Trent!" someone shouted from the crowd. I couldn't help but laugh as I tried to concentrate on not breaking my neck in the enormous heels I had stupidly decided to wear. I shook all the hands of the board members that had made their traditional appearance to congratulate us before we accepted our diplomas.


I made it to Mr. Henry and he smiled warmly at me. He pulled me into a tight hug as soon as his hand grasped mine. Being this close to him made me notice that he had tears in his eyes. "I'm proud of you, girl. I thought we almost lost you," he said, his voice cracking at the end. "Thank you Mr. Henry. I'm as tough as they come," I said with a wink when we pulled apart. "I know," he said with a wide smile, showing all of his teeth. The two of us were remembering how many times he intervened whenever I was raising hell. I knew that he was remembering how many times I sat in his office with him giving me lecture after lecture about my temper and how it had the potential to damage my reputation and my future. "You're a diamond, girl. Don't tarnish your shine." That was honestly the wisest thing anyone had ever said to me and it wasn't until now that I really took it to heart.


With my diploma finally in my hands, I carefully strolled off of the stage. "ALRIGHT TUPAC!" someone else screamed. "WHO SHOT ME, BUT YA PUNKS DIDN'T FINISH!" a group of guys that I remembered being football players yelled at the top of their lungs. One good thing I had to say about Welch is that even though people were constantly banking on you to fail, they hated to see any harm come to you when they had known you since you were knee high to a grasshopper. I didn't feel it before, but that was everything I needed to feel even better about the battle that I had won.

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We were all clutching our caps as they were still resting on top of our heads. More than a few of us couldn't control our tears, with me included. I never thought I would see this day and be able to feel all of the euphoria that graduating high school had to offer."Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you, the Mount View High School graduated class of 2012!" Mr. Henry shouted. Immediately, it was raining brown and gold caps with people screaming, shouting, and whistling all throughout the auditorium and finally, the last four years was a wrap.



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