Flash Fiction Challenge | Graduation Day, Completed

Remember those 200-words-at-a-time writing challenges over the past few weeks? Well, what I didn’t mention was that for each piece I wrote, I actually continued and wove into a fuller story. Here is the (slightly) longer, completed version of Graduation Day.

Feedback always appreciated.

A sea of maroon stretches before her, and she feels like she will drown when the wave rises. Liv should be swept away, but she doesn’t move. She doesn’t join in the cheers of her fellow classmates. She watches the caps fly high in the air, like a flock of strange birds migrating.

Ollie pulls his twin sister to her feet. She throws her cap, but it’s too late, ascending as the others plummet down. It looks lonely in the sky, a weak fledgling left behind who will never catch up.

“So this is the real world,” she says.

“We’ve got the whole summer and four years before that.” Ollie smiles as they file out from the row of warped metal chairs. They exit the field, diplomas in hand. In the parking lot maelstrom of high school graduates and proud families, the twins find their older brother Jack. He smokes a thin cigarette, oblivious to the irritated glances thrown his way. He hands Liv a wrinkled bill.

“You were right, they laughed at your names,” Jack chuckles. “Oliver Yeats and Olivia Yeats. Mom and Dad were crazy. You want to take a picture?”

“No,” Liv says.

“Now what?” Ollie asks.

“I heard someone’s having a big party,” Jack says. “Kayla Something?”

“Kayla Barnes. We weren’t invited, though.” Ollie says. The twins’ largely absent parents gave them an extra semblance of coolness, but pretty soon their classmates learned the twins did not exploit the empty house. Their parties were too lame for the popular kids, too esoteric for the academics.

“Just crash. I’ll come with you. I can bring booze.” Jack’s offer is met with a half-hearted shrug from Liv and a prolonged sigh from Ollie.

“We can’t bring you as a chaperone,” Ollie argues.

—–

“So, he’s like, a chaperone?” Kayla arches her eyebrow. Ollie notices she does not view the keg Jack rolls through the front door with the same skepticism. Liv grabs a red Solo cup and downs it. It tastes like a mixture of vodka and Kool-Aid. She wanders through Kayla’s house. Cool kids rule the living room; nerds flock to the study; artists paw through the china in the dining room; jocks camp out in the kitchen, playing beer pong in the Barnes’ family breakfast nook. Liv knows about half the people she passes, which doesn’t depress her as much as she thought it might. She ends up on the deck, a casual observer to Jack and Ollie attempting to tap the keg amongst a swarm of athletes.

Liv coughs. A cloud of smoke drifts from under the corner of the deck. There’s a rustle in the bushes. Shaggy black hair appears, its owner stumbling out. His ice blue eyes are rimmed with red, and the smell of pot overwhelms the yard.

“As I live and try to breathe,” Liv smiles, “Zach Tyler at a graduation party.”

“I could counter with the same incredulity,” Zach says. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“You should check out the kitchen. Ollie and Jack were trying to tap a keg.”

“Instead of the baseball team? They don’t stand a chance. Your brothers aren’t fast enough. They don’t have the speed or skill.”

“Tell me about it. Although they do make a mean cocktail,” Liv laughs.

“Yeah,” Zach looks away, his blue eyes turning sad, “I remember.”

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