The final report card was delivered early that morning.
Attached was a letter.
I read it over and over.
“Ms. Bianca Bluebeard,
You have excelled in you search for academic knowledge. Sims University is proud to have you as a graduate.
We are so impressed by your efforts, that you will graduate today with one of the highest honors in Sims University.
Please wear your gown proudly, you have earned it.”
Certainly this had to be a mistake.
Had I really done that much?
I called Jeff and told him the news.
“Congratulations. You totally earned it, and please do not doubt it for a minute!”
Other than his praise, he was somewhat short on the phone.
Although our conversation left me slightly confused, I brushed it off and started to get ready for the graduation ceremony.
I started to worry about the letter and hope that I wasn’t going to be expected to give a speech.
I made my way over to the auditorium.
It had begun to rain.
As I noticed my fellow graduates, I noticed I was the only one with a gold sash.
We made our way in, just as the rain started to increase.
The Pomp and Circumstance started.
My name was called.
I was overwhelmed when my graduates honored me with a standing ovation.
I tried to stay humble, but a sense of pride ran through me as well.
I had just graduated college as an artist, and already my name was well known.
The ceremony ended and as I left the auditorium, that sense of pride hit its high.
I was on cloud 9.
I searched the crowd for Jeff.
A few people stopped to congratulate me.
They tried to make small talk, and as much as I wanted to be polite, the fact that I couldn’t find Jeff was really distracting.
I fumbled through my gown and got my phone.
Where are you? I text.
At my house. he replied.
I took a deep breath.
This can’t be good.
I went to his house.
Jeff was sitting on the porch steps.
His eyes were red and puffy.
He stood up as I got close.
“Bianca…I think…I mean… we have to break up.” he said.
“What?” The word barely escaped me. I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. “Why?’
“You are going home tomorrow. To Sunset Valley. I still have one term left.”
“That is not a reason. I love you. Do you think I wouldn’t wait for you?”
No. That’s not it. Once I graduate, I have to go back to Hidden Springs. The Science Facility paid for my college, and I signed a contract.”
“So, you don’t even want to try and make this work?! Don’t you love me?”
“I….I…” he stuttered.
“So this is good-bye?”
“It has to be.”
I turned to leave. I had to. I was about to be overcome with emotions I had never experienced.
The ride home was…I don’t know…long.
All I could think about was my conversation with Jeff.
I had to pull myself together. I hadn’t told my parents I’d gotten dumped.
It was already much colder in Sunset Valley.
Frost glistened on the windows.
I walked through the front door.
“Mom, Dad…I’m home.”
The smell of Home was almost as comforting as my parent’s loving embrace.
“It’s good to have you home.” Dad said.
“It’s good to be home.” I replied, holding back tears.
Hopefully she would just think I they were tears of joy, not heartbreak.
A week went by.
I knew I wasn’t acting like myself, but I was trying.
For whatever reason, my parents hadn’t asked about Jeff.
I didn’t know who I was kidding anyway…Mom was a fortune teller.
My phone rang.
Please let it be Jeff.
It was Victoria.
She asked me to watch my nephew so she and Fausto could go on a date.
I happily obliged.
Brent was adorable, and a very good baby.
As I tucked him into his crib, I found myself secretly envious of my sister.
I wanted a family.
Winter passed quickly and the days were getting warmer.
I was working on a portrait of dad enjoying the sounds of the evening rain.
Mom cleared her throat.
“Bianca, may I talk to you?” she asked.
I put down my paints. “Of course.”
“Bianca, you have to let Jeff go. I am so sorry he hurt you, but I think you should move on.”
I knew this was coming.
“I’m not ready Mom. I don’t know if I will ever feel like that again, or if I ever want to feel like this again.”
“There’s a really cute new cook at your father’s diner…”
“Mom. I’m not ready. I thought Jeff was the one.” I couldn’t help the tears now. “The one I was going to have a family with.”
Mom hugged me tight. “Ok baby. You know what you’re doing. I’m here if you need me.”
She released me from her motherly embrace.
I felt like such a failure.
And failing scared me.
It was Dad’s birthday.
I really tried to have a good time.
The new cook, Danny, was at the party. He kept winking at me….it was really starting to annoy me.
He was not impressing me.
And he wasn’t cute either.
At least the cake looked good.
I was about to take my first bite when the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it.” I volunteered.