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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Absent

Submitted: October 18, 2017

Reads: 181

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Submitted: October 18, 2017

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The sun beat down hard on them, all in their caps and gowns for graduation. If it weren’t for the fact that we were in our black cap and gowns, I wouldn’t mind having to sit out in the football field for this. Ruben picks at his cuticles, kind of bored with the whole ceremony. He’s keenly aware of the empty chair next to him. I can’t believe Grayson skipped the ceremony, Mom’s gonna be pissed. He closes his eyes and tilts his face up toward the sky, soaking up the rays. His mind is somewhere else, and he doesn’t realize until there’s applause that the last of the class’s names had been called. He stands up with the crowd, feeling kind of a buzz. Someone takes his hand, and he turns to see his girlfriend Daniella next to him. She’s beaming, as bright as the sun. She doesn’t have to say anything, they’re feeling the same thing. They stand there, soaking in the elation.  She leans up to give him a kiss on the cheek.

“Let’s go find our parents, I’m sure they’re eager to congratulate us.” She says, tugging him in the direction where most of the parents are huddled together. A lot of them had cleared the stands by now. Ruben’s parents and Daniella’s parents were both at the edge of the crowd, talking excitedly. Daniella runs over and her parents greet her excitedly. Ruben silently curses Grayson for putting him in this position. He walks over to his and Daniella’s parents.

“There he is!” His father says, putting a hand on Ruben’s shoulder. “Officially graduated! How’s it feel?”

“About the same.” Ruben says with a laugh.

“We couldn’t get out of work when we planned so we missed you and your brother walk, I’m sorry honey.” His mother says.

“Don’t worry, I got pictures!” Daniella’s mother says, holding up a camera.

is your brother? Still hanging out with his friends?” His mother asks. Ruben scratches the back of his neck and coughs nervously.

“He’s, uh, he’s not here.” He says, avoiding eye contact. His mother’s face drops.

“What do you mean, he’s not here?”

“He had a friend come pick him up. I just assumed they were coming here, and then he didn’t show.”

“You didn’t ask where he was going? Or who he was going with?” She asks

“He- he just ran out the door, I didn’t really get a chance.” He says. His mother purses her lips.

“We’ll talk about this later.” She says. Daniella’s mother coughs and holds up her camera again.

“How about we snap some pictures of these two?”

After a short bout of pictures, the group of them started back towards the parking lot. Daniella and Ruben hung back from their parents.

“I still can’t believe he just left me to deal with our parents like that.” Ruben says, kicking a rock

“You know better than anyone how he feels about this kind of stuff.” she says. Ruben sighs.

“A warning would’ve been nice.”

“Showing up to his own graduation would’ve been nice, too.” she says. He laughs.

“Dani, I think you might be right about that.” He says, stopping to smile at her. He takes her hand in his. Ruben spots his parents further away in the parking lot. His mother is gesturing animatedly, as she always does when Grayson provokes her.

“She worries too much about Grayson.” He says, still looking across the lot. “If he wants to be stupid she should just let him.”

“I don’t see you doing that.”

“What?”

“You’re worried right now.” She holds up the hand she’s holding. “Look, you’ve been picking at your cuticles all day!”

“I was worried about my mom getting pissed and,” he gestures in his mother’s direction, “I had every reason to be. Obviously.” Ruben says as he pulls his keys out to unlock his car. They both climb in.

“Well if that’s the case” she says as she buckles the seatbelt, “you’re an asshole.”

“Am not.” He says laughing.

“Are too. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.” Ruben rolls his eyes at her. He puts the keys in the ignition and starts the car. I hope he’s at least home now, he thinks as he pulls out of the parking lot.

He drops Daniella off in front of her house. She invites him in, but he declines.

“I gotta get home, you know I do. Shouldn’t put it off.” He says. She smiles softly and nods. She waves, and watches him drive away. He only lives ten minutes away, and he does everything in his power to stretch out the drive as long as he can. He makes sure he’s really stopped completely at every stop sign, drives just a little slower than usual, doesn’t make any right turns at red lights (much to the chagrin of the few people behind him). After twelve minutes, he pulls into the driveway of his house. As he puts the car in park, he figures it’s a good time to check his phone for a few minutes. He pulls it out if his pocket to start scrolling, but it’s dead. Of course. He gets out of his car, finally.

As he walks up to the door, he can already hear raised voices. At least Grayson is home, he thinks, maybe if I’m careful they won’t notice me. He opens the door, and as soon as he does the yelling stops. Fuck. He walks in, and he sees his mother, father, and Grayson standing in the kitchen. They all turn to look at him. Fuck. His mother crosses her arms.

“Did you know about this?” She asks.

“About what?” He replies.

“That I went to the march in the city today,” Grayson says, rolling his eyes, “and I told you mom, he didn’t. We two separate people. You know that, right?”

“Don’t speak to your mother that way.” Their father says, sighing.

“Wait, what march?”

“I can not believe you would do something so dangerous! Those mobs of people are destructive, and criminals! Why would you want to support such violent people?” Their mother yells. Ruben looks at his father. His father nods his head off in the direction of Ruben’s bedroom, giving him an out. He takes a few steps backwards out of the kitchen, the swiftly walks to his room and shuts the door. Why is Gray doing this shit?

 


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