I'd been staring at the computer screen for twenty minutes now and the little blinking cursor was taunting me from the blank page. I'd never faced such writer's block before, but then I rarely had to write for such a deadline either. We'd been back in school for only a couple weeks - which was a couple weeks too long with Erika - when I'd been given my first real writing assignment for the newspaper. Mr Falkman had asked me to write a Senior Perspective on the upcoming school year. To add to the pressure, it was a yearly tradition and it was due in three days. No rush or anything.
The cursor continued to mock me from the other side of the screen.
"Ginny?" Dad stepped into his office and surveyed the damage I'd done to what was usually his space. I'd rearranged the sparse pictures and adornments, I'd attempted to build a log cabin with his cup of pencils and I'd turned at least one ream of printer paper into an air force of paper airplanes. "Going well then?"
I smiled slightly and tried to look apologetic. "We were invaded by army men..." I joked, motioning to the crash site. "Unfortunately I think they have anti-aircraft missiles."
Dad chuckled. "Come on, take a break..."
"I can't take a break, I have an entirely vague assignment due...and I have no idea what I'm going to write on." I protested, propping my hands over the keyboard as if the simple action would give me the words to begin.
"I'm not asking for the whole weekend Ginny - just give me fifteen minutes. Unless you think the army will try another land assault..." he teased, dragging me away from the computer. He steered me by my shoulders to the kitchen. Sitting on the bar was a brand new purple laptop. Before I could turn around to face my dad with questions, he answered the first one for me. "Considering how much time you've been spending on the computer lately...and since you might just need one for college..."
"It's mine?" I asked quickly. As soon as the words left my mouth I considered how stupid they sounded, why would me dad want a PURPLE laptop anyway? I hugged him tightly and I must have said thank you a dozen times in less than a minute. Until recently, I hadn't had much serious need of a laptop but in recent weeks I felt like I was monopolizing my dad's office and the computer more and more. Aside from the newspaper and AP English, the push to submit college applications had begun and every single one called for at least one essay - if not more than one.
While buying me a laptop may have been as much about his sanity as mine, I was still extremely thankful we were now a two computer household. "I hope it helps the creativity...but please refrain from turning the kitchen into the next warzone." he said with a wink.
I hugged him once again and then started debating where best to set up my new workstation. I had a desk in my room that was mostly covered in clutter and clothes I hadn't felt the need to put away - setting up there would also require a room cleaning I wasn't prepared to do at this time. The second option was the dining room table or the bar; here in the kitchen I would have easy access to snackage which was an advantage of course but the chairs weren't known for extended comfort. Ultimately I settled in the living room for now - after I cleaned off my desk I would relocate to my room.
Unfortunately, the shiny purple laptop did not instantly induce creativity. Now I had a new, slightly faster and meaner cursor mocking me. I wonder where the settings are to change that...
"Did you get your article done?" Erik asked as he settled next to me for the assembly. I glared at him and he instantly pulled away from me a fraction of an inch. "I'll take that as a no...I thought you said you were doing well when I called last night?"
"Yeah well, then we stayed up talking until nearly midnight and I still hadn't done the rest of my homework." I said with a frown. I'd fallen asleep on my math homework and woke up a couple hours later with a calculator indention on my face actually. "What is this assembly about anyway?" I asked through a yawn.
"Senior stuff of course." Nai'a said plopping down next to us, her camera firmly in hand. "How goes the article?"
"Don't ask!" Erik cautioned a second too late. Nai'a laughed as I attempted to glare at her as well.
I didn't have a chance to say anything else before Principal Watts approached the microphone. There were a couple of counselors off to the side ready, no doubt, to answer any questions from the students. "As seniors, I'm sure you've all started considering your plans after high school..." A round of murmurs rippled through the gym and it was clear that at least fifty percent of the assembled seniors were still fairly grey on their plans post-high school. "Or will be in the coming months..." he added with a hopeful chuckle.
Fact was, the most I knew is that I wanted to go to college somewhere in order to study something. Of course that could just be a ploy to delay becoming a real adult for at least four more years. I'd completely tuned out Principal Watt's speech about making plans early and was lost in my own thoughts when the gym door creaked open loudly, emitting a bright ray of sunshine.
Veronica stood, somewhat awkwardly, in the frame for a moment before she squared her shoulders and walked into the sea of whispers and stares. She'd been noticeably absent since school started and rumors had flown around school about her. Most assumed she'd transferred school amidst the ensuing legal battle going on between her aunt and her parents but no one could say for certain so of course everyone speculated. Something about her parents shipping her off to some hidden, private school in Europe in order to keep her out of her aunt's reach was one of the more outlandish rumors but it didn't stop people from repeating it. She'd taken a seat about as far away from the rest of the class as was socially acceptable and kept her eyes fixed on Principal Watts.
The counselors' question and answer session met with only a few scattered remarks so the assembly broke up early. "Remember, if you have any questions, you can come by the offices for an appointment at any time," one of them shouted over the scuffle of feet and gathering of bags. I glanced over in V's direction and found her still sitting quietly, looking back at me and nodded. Erik was waiting, expectantly, for me to rise. "I'm going to hang back and pick up some of the pamphlets." I said. He looked over my shoulder and caught V's eye and nodded, seeing through my bluff as I knew he would. Nai'a, thankfully, didn't push and just waved at me as she headed off - her head already editing the pictures she'd taken no doubt.
I waited for the crowd to thin a bit before collecting my books and making my way over toward Veronica. She fell into step beside me as we left the gym. "I'm glad you're back." I said as we rounded the far side of the football field.
"Why?" Veronica asked, clearly surprised by my statement.
"Because it was weird without you?" I threw out. "Because you're my friend you goob." I said rolling my eyes at her. She was silent for a moment and I wondered if she really wanted to tell me something or just wanted company for the walk back to school.
"Why?" she asked again finally. "Are you still my friend I mean?"
"Remember the first day we met?" I asked.
"Um...not really." V said sheepishly.
I just shrugged, somehow I didn't figure she would. "We were at the beach and I was eating an ice cream cone...and the ice cream fell off the cone when some boy bumped into me. My dad was off doing something and I couldn't see him and started to cry. And you gave me your ice cream...you didn't even know my name at the time but you gave me your ice cream and smiled at me."
"That doesn't sound like me." Veronica said with a frown.
"Mm, true. But it was - when you were six..." I said, hooking my arm in hers. "And I still remember that particular V - I like to think she's still around under all the other stuff." I said hopefully.
"You are such a dweeb." Veronica said with a chuckle.
"You're not the first person to tell me so." I laughed.
"I heard she was in juvie!" Two girls were snickering behind me and as I'd been standing in line just ahead of them for a few minutes now, I knew they were talking about Veronica. Every sentence was a more outlandish assessment of how she'd spent her summer and each time I felt the urge to whip around and defend her, or at least tell them to shut up.
I waited until after I got my lunch and then turned to face them. "She was in Napa, with her aunt. I think she said something about Johnny Depp filming something at her Aunt's winery..." I lied. "Why? What did YOU do all summer?" I asked with a fake smile before leaving them staring at me with their mouths hanging open. At least the new gossip would be good gossip...
"So it was YOU that started that?" V asked me after school. "Thanks...I mean I know it won't last long but it's better than some of the crap they were saying...." She picked up a stack of my newly folded clothes and handed them to me to tuck into my dresser.
"It was nothing...although if they think too hard on it, they'll realize Johnny Depp was filming in Hawaii all summer but I didn't think about that at the time." I said with a shrug.
"I WAS in Napa...Johnny just wasn't there obviously. My parents and my aunt are deep in legal drama about getting custody of me. Of course at the rate they're going I'll be 18 by the time a decision is reached and it will all be pointless." V said, dropping onto the bed once all the clothes had been cleared away.
"Who do you want to live with? I mean if you live with your Aunt you'd have to move to Napa right?" I pointed out.
"Yes, I guess so. But if I stay here there are parents to deal with...such that they are." Veronica said. "I don't know Gin...if a judge asked me tomorrow I don't even know if I'd be able to answer..." We were silent for a few moments until she spoke up again. "Thanks again Ginny...for everything and all that."
"What are friends for?" I said with a smile.
Desk now successfully cleared of clutter and clothes, I set up my laptop and sat down in front of it. The cursor still looked like it was a jackrabbit on speed but, for the moment, it didn't bother me.
When I walked into school on the first day of my senior year, I did so with a great deal of excitement and anticipation. While I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I "grew up", the prospect of entering these doors as a student and leaving as a graduate was thrilling. Truth be told, I still don't know what I want to be and I don't know what I want to study. I don't know what hallowed halls I'll be transversing a year from now but I know I will walk through them with friends, both near and far and a volume full of the best memories possible.
This week we seniors have had yearbooks, class rings, Senior Portraits, and a wide variety of cheap items with the school logo emblazoned across them thrust in our face. They tell us that we need to buy this grand "memory package" to think back on our high school years and remember the good times. At first I scoffed at such proclamations but after this week, I can honestly say I've ordered every bit of it. I may well regret this emotional decision next week when I have a slightly clearer head but that is a risk I will just have to take.
This senior is both excited and terrified about what the future holds; but I think all the good ones ought to be.