Reconstructing Charlie

Almost two years ago, I showed up at this house on Lake Shore Drive with no idea of how I’de be received. Today, as I stepped into a long olive dress the saleslady said looked perfect with my hair and Aunt Eleanor agreed, I left that fifteen year old girl behind. Graduation Day. Wow. A full scholarship to Northwestern based on my cross country record and academics. I twirled around feeling the slinky dress spread out from my hips down. Almost time to go. I had tickets for everyone but Lord and Lady. My family. One of the ten most perfect days of the year. Carrying my cap and gown, I almost plummeted down the stairs in new clunky heel pumps. Robert beeped the horn, Edgar stood by the limousine door to escort me inside where Aunt and Uncle sat beaming. Granny Apple and Sean smiled up at me. Edgar arranged his long legs in front and off we went. For just a second, I wondered if Mom realized she hadn’t called me Her loss. I willed the dark thought away. The valedictorian, Thomas Donnelly, gave a speech about giving back to the community and volunteering whenever we could. Cheers erupted from the crowd. Admired by all, Tom, the guy who never spoke to me but had watched for the new girl in his quiet way. I’d miss him a lot. When the names of the class were called, we had practiced this drill the day before, one by one we were to walk quickly across the stage to shake hands with the principal and receive the diploma. At that time any awards would be announced.

The loudspeaker called, “Charlie Costigan,” and I had taken my place up and almost running across the stage, heard the announcment. “Highest SAT scores in our school history.” I slowed down, reveling in the moment. Words I said when I got off the bus after that terrible night came back. “Chicago, do you here me?” Applause broke out from the audience. I shook hands and thanked Mr. Adams, then waved my diploma in the received air. When Thomas received his diploma, the loudspeaker announced he had a full scholarship to Northwestern. Across the sea of friends and relatives, his blue eyes met mine. He grinned. For the first time in my life, I felt a small tingle low in my belly.I pinned a red ribbon on the underside of my cap watched it take off . Unaware the crowd broke up, drifting back to family. my focus stayed in the sky. A shadow blocked my sightline. Patric Donnely

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