The Fifteen Minute Novel 2023: Day 17

Welcome to the Fifteen Minute Novel. Each morning I spend fifteen minutes writing on a singular story line. Each morning starts with the last line of the previous day. The goal is to get a (very) rough draft out of the simple story idea and to avoid letting the story idea languish in limbo forever, actually writing it out. This is the third year I have done this writing experiment and each year I learn just a little bit about myself and the way I write as well as creating a framework for the story. But without further ado…

Day 17: Gwen could hear the crowd arrive.

Gwen could hear the crowd arrive. They moved around in the darkness beyond her vision.  Mrs. Dawson motioned them forward and the line started to move.  Their graduating class filed into the seats reserved for them, careful to maintain their alphabetical order.  When they were all in their rows they were motioned to sit and they sat as one.

Gwen stared ahead and took deep steadying breaths.  Seeing everyone hadn’t been as hard as she expected it to be.  More than ever though she wished she had gone to the dance.  She wished she sailed in and was completely unconcerned with Lisa and Toby even as Ron doused Lisa with contents the punch bowl.

‘If Sean spiked it like he always does then it probably stung,’ Gwen thought.  Sean had been spiking their school dance punch bowls since middle school.  His grandfather had a still and made moonshine and he would always steal a jar.  ‘He wouldn’t have missed the last dance,’ she thought.  Sean would have wanted to keep his record.

Gwen could imagine Lisa smelling of moonshine and fruit punch as the drink stained her dress.  While Gwen didn’t feel bad about the image, she also found she didn’t take as much amusement in it as she thought she would. She wasn’t sure why. 

On stage their principal gave his speak, most of which Gwen tuned out.  The valedictorian, Stanly Prescott, gave his speech.  The gist of it was that they could now go out and conquer the world. Thinking of Stanly’s love of alien annihilating video games she wasn’t certain if he meant that literally, but she wasn’t really listening to most of it.  No one else seemed alarms so she was certain the conquering didn’t involve alien invasions.

Gwen drifted in and out as more speeches were given and then snapped into focus as they were told to rise.  They filed out of the seats in the same conga line from their arrival and the head of the line reached the stairs to the stage.  Slowly each name was called by the vice principal, the student named stepped up to the stage, walked to the principal, paused for a photo while shaking his hand and then exited off stage returning to their seats.

“Gwen Barrett,” was called and Gwen stepped up the two steps to the stage.  She heard clapping from the audience as she made her way across and shook the principal’s hand.  He had a perma-smile plastered on his face and his hand was cool and dry.  She shook it, paused for the picture and then took her diploma off of the stage and back to her seat as Maria Benson was called for her turn in the spotlight.

Gwen settled into her seat.  Her part in this event was over.  She only had to wait until the others were done.

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