High School

Day’s End

Day Brennon never knew how much he missed it. Like a sea-born breeze brushing his hair back, the memories of a bygone moment in his life invaded him. Stepping through the sliding door brought forth the nostalgia instantly. The lobby hadn’t changed after all the time that had passed. Couches still lined the back wall, and weren’t all that different from the ones he remembered. Students herded through the open walkway, cautiously avoiding the bookworms that occupied the round tables on the far side. The couches on the other hand were the communal rest area for a varied array of slackers. Just like back in Day’s time at Elderwood High.

He walked slowly towards the entrance to Senior Hall, the lockers – lacquered white – in regimented columns ushering him in. Feeling out of place was a new emotion for Day. Everyone looked so young, and the ceiling seemed farther down upon him. Even the seniors, who deemed themselves ready for adulthood, still bore the onslaught of acne and questionable fashion tastes. At least, they were questionable to him. No one wore pants two-to-three waste sizes larger back when he attended. Black wasn’t a preferred color, and hairstyles didn’t defy gravity during his tenure as a student. A lot had changed on the surface, but the essence of it was still recognizable to him.

Vivid recollection crept up to him. Senior Hall held a particular significance. Locker #357. Day faced it with all the wonder that one bestowed upon a valuable relic. A crack in the locker’s door hinge revealed itself to his wondering eyes. He made that crack with an art cutter his sophomore year! His girlfriend dumped him that day, complaining that his name ‘Day’ was too queer. That moment lingered in his mind as a humorous stumbling block rather than a moment of grief. The so-called relationship lasted far longer than his friends predicted. Steiner – an old friend – kept tabs on the bets made in favor of the breakup. A bet that Day himself had entered.

Another peculiarity, which bothered him, was the memory of being one of the only sophomores in Senior Hall. The area designated to his ilk had overcrowded that year, leaving several in his grade locker-less. Others migrated to Freshman Hall at the urgings of the faculty, while a few others and he were given the leftovers in Senior Hall. Day dreaded that day he held his schoolbooks, gazing up at the overhead scowls of upperclassman; all glaring in dismay at their sovereign territory forever violated by the presence of an underling amidst their ranks.

He strolled further down and encountered an old man dressed in faded blue overalls. Regardless of his haggard appearance, the ancient figure wheeled a mop over his shoulder with surprising youthful ease. Day recalled that maneuver, and the man who made it famous. Chuck Whiltman, the Senior Hall janitor.

Good ol’ Chuckie hadn’t changed, even his face looked as sandpapery as ever. The only difference Day could spot was a missing tooth along his lower bridge, but that gave him character. Not that the old janitor needed any more character than he already possessed. How could he don the same grin, and hum the same tune after so many decades? It was beyond the former student’s comprehension.

The janitor passed by him without even the slightest hint of recognition. That didn’t surprise Day any. He never really stuck out to Chuckie. No one did. A different world surrounded that man, a perception everyone wished they could attain, but would never understand.

Day chuckled inwardly at the irony then decided it was time to depart.

Nostalgia possessed a divinity all its own for a fleeting moment, then receded back into the subject’s mind like an outgoing tide. Day stood there, feeling the change come over him as the memories trickled into the present. Recollection toppled over to welcome reality. The former student sighed.

The memories were small ones, insignificant to the blinking eye. However, those simple happenings held more symbolism than the grandiose events that supposedly defined the “high school experience.” He could recall his first pencil sharpener, yet couldn’t remember his first dance. A carving on the bathroom wall in the shape of a phallus amused him, yet the pep assemblies were little more than a blur. His first beer, still sour upon his lips, replayed itself in his thoughts, yet he couldn’t spell the name of his prom date. What type of phenomenon was this?

Then it hit him. One simple sentence.

“Dad? Can we go now?”

The lanky young freshman looked up at him, barely above five-four in height with green-dyed hair shaved to Chia Pet length. A skateboard hung from his left arm, while a tattered backpack relaxed limply on his bony right shoulder. The boy smiled quizzically, his braces flashing in the fluorescent lighting.

“Oh sure, Joe, no problem. I’ll get the car,” Day replied, as if awoken from a trance.

He wandered outward, pushed upon the handle of the less-than-sturdy glass door, and placed his reflective penny-loafers on the discolored cement. Turning his head, he viewed the sign upon the windowpane.

WELCOME FRESHMAN

It was then that he understood why he couldn’t recall the majority of the grander events of his youth, why only the little inconsequential things stuck out in his mind. His time had ended, while his progeny ventured forth to make memories of his own. Day withdrew his keys, and pressed the button on his obsidian-black key chain. The car alarm to a chrome-colored Lexus parked in front chirped in reply.

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Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 Prose No Comments

I work for tea money.

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