( This is the preview for the chapter. I will be updating it tommorow to finish the chapter out with a bang. 😉 )
Bright lights met my eyes as I wiped sweat from my forehead. Our graduation hats were getting soaked by rays of sun. Amanda was to be honored as a would be graduate today. It was all over the television that we were going to gift a missing eighteen year old her high school diploma today. Our crowd outmatched that of one of a concert due to the meaning behind. Parents were clapping, children were cheering, and we were crying tears of joy.
Finally, we would be out of this place. Rid of the prison of school. A slip of paper was hanging at my side shining the accomplishments we had made. Rachel had one of her most epic parties planned because right after this she was going straight into training to be a medic for the marines. Danny was a loose cannon by now having fallen into the deep addiction of heroin.
“ We made it girl.” Rachel nudged me as we walked back to our seats. I couldn’t see my mom in the crowd because she was off working, or dealing with her new boyfriend. My brother was sitting smoking a cigarette as if the entire situation wasn’t exciting.
“ We made it through the first jungle.”
“ Now, to survive the after party.” I huffed a laugh trying to hide the anxiety I had for the future. Aaron had just gotten a full scholarship for football with some college in another state. He didn’t seem so keen on leaving me though.
“ Oh, the party won’t be that bad Alana . “Rachel slid off her graduation hat before taking my wrist as we walked back inside our school. The ceremony was cryptic as a few more girls went missing after Amanda, and there wasn’t much hope for any of them.
Our troupe of about three hundred students looked more like a group of blue antz from the distance for the crowd. Most parents stood around waiting for their kids to change out of graduation gowns with flowers. Other students who unfortunately had to attend their last few classes for their year waved to us. Some would be in our shoes next year, and others would be having to climb social ladders, or accept their existence for another four.
Daniel would be waiting for us at that old shack. Rachel, and him were on rocky waves at the moment in their relationship. She was trying to climb away from his drug induced self, but he wasn’t hearing that he had problem like most addicts. Her heart refused to let him go which meant she was probably going to break it off tonight with him. I wouldn’t doubt it.
“ Congratulations. I’m so happy I could make it here. I had to take time off from both -”
My mom for once in her life greeted me after I changed into a pretty little blue dress which made me look like one of those porcelain dolls on the wall. I hated playing dress up. It was a waste of a day that I could wear shorts.
“ Yes, I get it mom. It means a lot to me. You know that. “ I gave her hug trying not to act like I was more aggravated that was trying to guilt trip me already. My older brother heaved a sigh at her exaltation of love. None of it would be out of pocket like me.
“ I’m so happy we can have dinner with Rachel in a nice restaurant. Their even paying.” Her arms around me felt like the strength of a lion cub’s mother.
“ Mom. I hate to break it to you, but Rachel’s parents are treating you to dinner, and a hotel. I’m partying with Rachel tonight in celebration.” A frown crossed her face, but a flicker in her eyes as they wandered to left told me someone was standing there.
“ Hunny, I wanted you to come with us so you could meet my new boyfriend. He has a nice place, and we could move out of the shambles we call home.”
“ Can’t that wait till tomorrow
“It will have to. “ She gave me a kiss on the cheek as if reassuring me that the dinner tonight will go over smooth. Rachel’s parents have tried to give her a place to live, but the only thing she would accept from them was a car. My mom believew in working hard, and earning it. But with a new man in her life, just maybe she might learn to accept help when offered.
I had no plans on college, and no idea when I would be able to get a job in the failing economy. I’d probably end up joining Rachel if nothing happens over the summer. The sad truth is that my brother left right after my mom mentioned her new boyfriend. He was old enough to not give a damn about her, or me. But he still helped her with bills even when he attends college half way across the country to become a scriptwriter. She calls him a hopeless cause.
My mom and brother walked off leaving me to go find Rachel who was just now giving her mom a kiss on the cheek. Our party wasn’t going to be at her house tonight but it will happen somewhere in the woods. But we still had to drag Daniel along for our last group horrah even Aaron was meeting us at our secret base.
Daniel sat as usual on a broken step at that same shack that we discussed placing a tiger rug on. His dark brown hair was fuzzed up from the june heat, and blobs of sweat protruded from his forehead like rain pelted the ground. He had on a dark blue shirt with buttons, and Denim Jeans that were ripped at the knee. Per usual he had a rolled up joint in his mouth as he watched Rachel in her red gown almost trip on nothing. There was no sign on his body of having taken any drugs today. This would be the third week straight he hadn’t relapsed on heroine. We did manage to begin to fix it up. Over the course of the few months there were now new glass windows, a new roof, two full floors, and a tiger rug on the bottom floor. We couldn’t fix the stairs yet, and we promised when we all saved money one day we would build the house, and make a pool surrounding the shack. The place would have a name but I wasn’t sure what the name would be yet.
“ Hey there pretty ladies.” Smoke embellished his face making the tan of his skin look almost powdery. A huff of laughter passed his lips at the sight of Rachel trying to straighten herself out.
“ She’s just a natural klutz as always. I mean hell she did almost push herself through one of those windows when we were fixing them.”
“ Oh, if she did that I may as well have followed her.” Daniel flung his arms out as if trying to sway Rachel to go to him.
“ You don’t smell like bear yet?”
“ Sweetie, when I smell like beer, you’ll be in the process of having my kid, and you’ll be the one drunk. “ There they went. It was like he just set the bomb off for her. Swearing, huffs, stomps, and finally a joke managed to calm the two of them.
“ So, tonight’s festivities are gonna be at pond Hopeville.”
“ I always found Hopeville to be an ironic name.”
“ Shush it, Alana , It’s not like you named it.”
“ If i had I’d be rich Rachel.”
“ Donald trump rich?” Daniel finally was able to enclose his arms around Rachel protectively. Aaron was taking quite a while to get to us, and inform us that all the party plans were solid. He was the one setting up the fire, having his cousin get the drinks, and trying to make sure no one would have a complaint. The lake was considered unsafe to swim in by the government, but none of us ever had an issue swimming in it. Water was clear like ice, and the creatures that domained in it were harmless aside from a snapping turtle. Snapping turtles were the worst.
“ I think that invests owning more than one lake.” Aaron’s words escaped his lips as he came out of the shack with his phone to his ear.
“ Why were you inside?” Rachel pointed at the door like we were all blind.
“ I had an important phone call to make to keep those crazy cops away for the party.”
“ Do normal people party like us?” Daniel retorted. He hated Aaron. I wouldn’t be surprised if drunk fists passed between them.
“ No. But that’s because most people don’t have money in this economy. I mean Alana has been freeloading off of you too for a while now.”
“ Yout her boyfriend, and your shot calling? Girl, you gotta find yourself a better man.” I huffed a laughter trying to hide my uncomfortableness. Aaron was from a rich family. One that would look at me and kick me in the knee right away. The other two were more humble because their parents came from nothing. But the quarterback wouldn’t understand this. He just loved putting me in a tough situation. It’s what we’re used to.
“ I guess he just likes to tease me.” Aaron had on polyester jeans, and a nice fancy button up shirt that was meant for people born to a major rockstar. He wrapped his arm around me sniffing the rose scented perfume I slipped on earlier. He smelled like forest in a mix of water, leaves, and dirt like he spent all night laying on the floor staring at the stars.
“ No. I just like making valid points.”
“ Ugh, “ My retort reflected the disgust I feel at his scent. But it was a smell I expected of him.
Speckles from the sun began to spray onto the clouds like a child’s art picture. Bright pinks, oranges, and a slight purple covered the sky like the colors were fighting for popularity. Aaron made a motion for the other’s to follow him. The woods near the shack led up to the lake that we would be partying in. It was only about a thirty minute walk to get there.
We got there and placed down the cooler that Daniel was carrying. Packages of hotdogs, buns, burgers, chips, salads, and cookies were already placed next to the pre-made campfire. This fire was one of four that would be utilized tonight. We made sure that the old tire swing that we made was still sturdy enough to fling people into the water.
“ Daniel, don’t get into trouble.” Rachel tugged his arm afraid that if he even saw a white powdery drug he would faceplant right into it.
“ I’ll try not to hun.” His words held a slight lingering to them like an apology.