Silas Jones

Good Choices

Two years ago, Connie McHale’s older sister Alexis got t-boned driving home drunk from a graduation party and even though she didn’t die and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even technically “her fault” or whatever, it’s now mandatory for all grads to go straight from the stage at the center of the football field to an idling bus where the only place to sit is next to Connie, who is clutching her mortarboard even though she was supposed put it in Vince Principal Walter’s cardboard box like I did, for which I didn’t get a “Thank You,” just a “Make Good Choices,” which is VP Walter’s “thing” he likes to say at assemblies and, in my opinion, is a lie because I don’t make ANY choices, all of them get made for me, like for example; sitting next to Connie on the bus ride to an undisclosed location that turns out to be a Hard Rock Cafe where we, the Class of 2014, are forced to pass an entire night Not Dying or Losing the Use of our Legs; slumped in booths drinking Mountain Dew and listening to a playlist that includes two versions (Up Tempo and Regular) of the Jeremih song “Birthday Sex,” which I like even though I have never actually had sex (birthday or otherwise) unless you count that time Ella Van Cleef stuck two fingers inside me at Tom Skoog’s party, in Tom’s mom’s white-lit walk-in closet, the carefully-arranged contents of which Ella’s hands knocked off their shelves as she grasped first for stability and then for my ponytail, which she didn’t let go of until she started to cry, which I, personally, DO NOT count because I do not want to tell that story to all the friends I’m going to make at college, so anyway, I groan when the music stops and we are made to sit in on the floor and watch a bald magician hypnotize first Katie Hartley and then a kid named Max, who is Special Needs and Katie cries and we all know why (fat) and Max just does the chicken dance until the magician yells “CELERY!” and Max says, “Wow, what happened?” And we all laugh because its the nice thing to do (include him, not laugh) and somehow it’s only midnight, 3 hours to go thanks to Alexis McHale who, before she was famous for being paralyzed from the waist down, was famous for being really fucking pretty and giving Tom’s brother the clap in 2012, which was a different era at Roosevelt High, a darker era, because that year 2 football players chopped up a 3rd football player and scattered the pieces around the Ravine before confessing to the cops, who were pretty lenient since that 3rd guy, the chopped up one, the one who haunts the clearing where we drink cups of Everclear and juice from an orange cooler the senior boys mix up most Fridays if the weather is nice, well, that guy raped a hot girl which is why he got chopped up in the first place and also why the judge let the boys who did it off so easy, especially if you remember how much the news hyped it all up, which I certainly do every Friday when the same cop appears to kick over the cooler and we all plunge deeper into the Ravine, the earth flashing green-brown beneath my feet, and wonder if that same cop was around in 2010 to pick up the pieces we joke about finding; fingers mouldering in the shadows where we hide and Ella puts her head on my shoulder, the same way she’s doing now, in the Hard Rock Cafe, where we pass time, forever, and with 2.5 hours to go, she says, “I have to pee,” and when I get up to let her pass, she yanks me into the handicap bathroom, which has a mural of Cyndi Lauper that’s so big, she’s just points of color and I count them over Ella’s shoulder until she extracts her hand from beneath my skirt and asks me if I’m nervous for “real life” and I tell her “no, duh,” and then she leaves and before I follow her I wait 60 seconds