A Different Blue Page 43

He turned and left quickly, only to return less than a minute later with a little paper cup of icy water. “Compliments of the teacher's lounge.”

I sipped the water, grateful – but again – refusing to acknowledge it.

“If you think you can, I think you should put on your cap and gown and head out to the field. You haven't missed anything important.”

“Ha! I'm not walking out there by myself.”

“I'll walk with you. Easy peasy. Once you're seated, the embarrassment will be over, and in the end you will be glad you didn't miss your own graduation.”

I looked over at my cap and gown wistfully. Wilson must have seen my hesitation and pressed me further. “Come on. You like making entrances, remember?”

I smiled a little, but the smile fell as I considered the likelihood that I wouldn't make it through the ceremony without needing to make another run for the commode.

“I can't do it.”

“Sure you can,” Wilson picked up my cap and gown and held them out to me, an encouraging look on his face. He reminded me of a dog begging for a walk around the block, his big, heavily-lashed eyes pleading, his mouth turned up the slightest bit in supplication.

“I can't do it,” I repeated more forcefully.

“You need to,” Wilson said just as forcefully. “I get that you're feeling dicky –”

“I'm not dicky, whatever that means! I'm pregnant!” I whispered, interrupting him. Wilson's face went slack, as if I'd just told him I was having an affair with Prince William. The lump was back, and I felt a stinging in my eyes that caused me to blink rapidly and grit my teeth.

“I see,” Wilson said softly, and his hands fell to his sides, my cap and gown still held in his hand. A strange expression stole across his features, as if he was putting everything together, and his jaw clenched as his gaze stayed locked on my face. I wanted to look away, but pride kept my stare steady and belligerent.

I took the cap and gown from him and turned away, feeling suddenly very shy in my short Daisy Dukes and my flimsy t-shirt, as if my skimpy choice of clothing underscored my humiliating confession. I suddenly despised myself and wanted nothing more than to get away from Darcy Wilson – the one teacher, the one person, who seemed to give a damn about me. He had become a friend, and I realized in that moment that I had probably disappointed him. I started to walk away. His voice was insistent behind me.

“I didn't go to my father's funeral.”

I turned, confused. “Wh-what?”

“I didn't go to my father's funeral.” He walked toward me until he stood directly in front of me.


Wilson shrugged and shook his head. “I thought I was responsible for his death. The night he died we had a huge fight and I stormed out. I didn't want to go to medical school; he thought I was being a fool. It was the only time I had ever fought like that with my father. Later that night, he had a massive heart attack in his car in the hospital parking lot. He had been paged but never made it through the hospital doors. They might have saved him if he had.

“Naturally, I blamed myself for the heart attack. I was devastated and guilty . . . so I didn't go.” Wilson stopped talking and looked down at his hands as if they held answers that he had yet to find. “My mother begged and pleaded. She told me I would regret not going for the rest of my life.” He looked up at me. “She was right.”

I looked down at my own hands, knowing exactly what he was trying to say.

“Some moments you don't get back, Blue. You don't want to spend a lifetime wondering about those moments you didn't seize, about the things you should have done but were too scared to do.”

“It's just a stupid ceremony,” I protested.

“No. It's more than that, because it means something to you. It's something you've earned and no one can take it away from you. This journey hasn't been an easy one for you, and you deserve this moment, maybe more than any student out there.” Wilson pointed toward the football field that lay beyond the walls of the cafeteria.

“Nobody will miss me. I don't have anyone out there waiting to see me walk across the stage.”

“I'll be there, and I'll clap and holler and yell your name.”

“If you do, I'll kick your ass!” I snapped, horrified.

Wilson busted out laughing. “There's the girl I know.” He pointed to my cap and gown. “Let's go.”

I ended up attending my graduation ceremony after all. Turns out, I hadn't missed much. I walked out onto the field, Wilson by my side. I held myself stiffly and didn't hurry, and I made my way to my empty seat without flinching, although heads were swiveling right and left. Wilson sat with the row of teachers and true to his word, whistled and yelled when my name was called. I have to admit I kind of liked it, and my classmates and the other teachers laughed, most likely thinking Wilson was clapping because he was glad to get rid of me. I tried not to smile but, in spite of my best efforts, at the last minute a huge grin split my face.

Chapter Fourteen

I spent as little time in the apartment as possible. It reeked of cigarettes, and although I tried to keep my door shut off from the rest of the apartment and the windows to my room open at all times, May in Las Vegas is hot, and my room was unbearable. My little storage unit at the back of the complex was just as hot, but I had fresh air and my projects to distract me. I was lost in my latest creation – filing and sanding and grinding away – when a car rolled up beyond the sliding metal door. I turned to see Wilson step from his grey Subaru and slam the door behind him. I walked out into the bright sunlight, shading my eyes as he approached.

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