"Congratulations class of 2004! Let's give a big hand for them people."
I stood side by side with my peers, tears welling up in my eyes as I stared out into the crowd where my dad sat with my younger brother. When I went off to get my Master's over the pond in Manchester – I took online college courses after school to work on getting my bachelor's degree – I will miss them terribly. As well as my twin sisters.
But I just couldn't continue to stay here in La Push. The memories of my dead mother were everywhere, and it seemed like one of these days that she was just going to pop out and shock us all. It's why I had to leave. I couldn't let myself get lost in the sorrow of my mother's memory. Much like Uncle Charlie got lost in his work after his flighty ex-wife took his daughter in the middle of the night right before their divorce papers went through.
"Hey," Rachel's voice whispered in my ear from behind me. I turn my head and look at her.
"Yeah?" I ask. "What's up."
Worried eyes stared back at me as Rachel bit her bottom lip and nervously spoke. "Have you told them yet? That you're leaving."
I allow myself the decency to grimace. "Not yet," I mutter. "But I plan to tonight during the graduation party."
Rachel nodded with a satisfactory smile on her face, causing me to laugh as I turn my head to face the audience again. "Good," she spoke lowly, but loud enough for me to hear as we threw our caps into the air like a cheesy sitcom. "Otherwise 'Becca and I plan on telling dad for you."
That wouldn't be a good idea. Dad would be hurt if he had to hear the news of my moving away from La Push from a second source.
Shaking my head, I let out a troublesome-sounding sigh. I'll deal with how he reacts to the news when I tell him tonight. Right now, all I wanted to do was take photos with my sisters and brother – we wouldn't leave Jacob out of ALL of the photos after all – and then go home and celebrate.
Bending down to pick up my cap with a renewed smile on my face as I listened to the chatter of my peers, I stood back up and my smile stretched into a wide grin when I saw my fourteen-year-old brother, Jacob running towards us. With our father trailing closely behind him in his wheelchair.
I laughed silently when he stopped in front of us three – I had noticed that Rachel had stepped down from the platform and was now standing on the stadium floor with me. Glancing to my left, I was glad to see that Rebecca had done the same and had joined us as well from where she had been standing previously.
"I'm so proud of you three!" Jacob exclaimed, his eyes shining with sincerity.
"Thanks, Jacob." Rachel said emotion laced heavily in her voice.
"Yes, thanks, Jake." Rebecca gushed, her voice cracking a little bit.
I looked at Jacob with fondness and love before smirking. Reaching out I grab a hold of Jacob's arm and pulled him forward causing him to let out a small 'yelp' as he stumbled into the three of us girls. We all immediately gave him a big group hug, much to his embarrassment.
Closing my eyes, I let out a hum of contentment with my siblings surrounding me from all sides. I would miss small moments like this.
Eyebrows furrowing, I open my eyes and look past Jacob's shoulders and grin at seeing my dad in front of the stage. Camera in hand and a proud look on his face as he gazed at the four of us. For a moment, a shadow of sorrow crossed his face, and I knew that he thought of mom. Wishing how she could be here with us in this pivotal moment in our lives.
It was that feeling of sorrow, of living in the past that reminded me of why I was doing this. Why I was choosing to move away from La Push.
Letting out a sigh, I untangle myself from the sibling hug, and when the three of them looked at me after gaining control over their emotions again. I let out an excited whoop, before shouting.
Hours later, as the graduation party slowly started to wind down, I spotted dad talking to Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater and took a deep breath in.
Closing my eyes, I steeled myself for a moment to allow my nerves to settle down before I reopened them with a slow exhale. Taking a timid step forward, I found myself beginning to walk at a steady pace toward my dad with determination burning bright in my eyes.
"Hey dad," I greeted my father as I approached him. I bit my bottom lip when he paused in his conversation with Uncle Harry and turned his wheelchair towards me. "Can I talk to you privately, for a moment?"
"Sure, thing kiddo," Dad said before looking up at Uncle Harry and Aunt Sue to excuse himself from the conversation. "If you would excuse me."
I watched as dad wheeled himself away from Uncle Harry and Aunt Sue and glumly followed behind him, anticipation practically buzzing in my veins.
Once we were at a far enough distance away from the others, Dad turned his wheelchair towards me and looked expectingly. "So what did you want to talk to me about, Roxie?"
"igotacceptedintouniversityinenglandandwillbemovingtherethissummer." The words came out jumbled and fast, showcasing just how nervous I was.
Dad raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry," he said slowly. "but I couldn't quite catch that. What did you say?"
Letting out a huff, I ran a hand through my hair nervously before repeating what I said.
"I was accepted into university in England and will be moving there this summer."
I watched anxiously as dad's facial expression went from interested and neutral to shock, surprise, and pride.
"You got accepted into college?!" He said joyously. "That's amazing, sweetheart! Wait-did you say that you're moving to England this summer?"
I nodded, and suddenly I could feel the tension in the air between the two of us as he tensed.
"Yeah." I wet my lips and let out a cough to help clear my throat a bit better. "Since I got the letter stating I was accepted, I joined an online group and met two girls who are also attending Manchester this fall and we started talking and decided to find a place to rent this summer to get to know each other better."
I watched my dad as he sighed heavily, his shoulders slacking from their tensed position.
"Are you sure about this?" He asked wearily. "Do you really want to be that far away from home?" His tone was questioning and curious but not impolite.
I nodded, feeling relieved that he was taking the news better than I had hoped for. "I'm sure dad," I said with an exhale of breath. "No offense, but it's hard for me to be here with the memories of mom imprinted everywhere local. Rebecca and Rachel would agree with me on this dad."
Dad closed his eyes and for a moment I regretted what I had just said, out of fear of possibly hurting his feelings. But when he reopened his eyes a minute later, acceptance showing on his face I felt reassurance and a flare of hope.
"Alright," He relented. "But I'm going to miss you, you know that?"
Letting out a laugh, I clasp my hands together in a ball and press them towards me with a nod. "Yeah dad, I know."