Adventure Friendship High School

My phone makes a ping. One that lets me know an email has been recieved. I pause the orientation video for a new website my company is using. I'll just finish it afterwards. I look at the phone next to me. A green, pink and gold case has lightning flashes on it. On the back, the words Ten and two are written in a big font. I got this case at a concert. I look at the reminder and raise an eyebrow. It's from Canna Nova, the high school I attended. I press it, and the screen changes to the message.

Dearest student,

You're invited! The high school reunion of the class of 1998 is on Friday, September 14th, from 6:00 pm to 9:00pm. Feel free to bring up to two guests, refreshments, and fun stories! If you plan on attending, please get back to us before Friday, September 7th. Otherwise, ignore this email. We can't wait to see you!

-Mrs. Anoxia, principal of Canna Nova secondary school

I set my phone down. Highschool. It's nothing like those cheesy movies for kids. Unpopular girl meets the new boy, gets with the new boy despite the intervention of the popular girl who wants him too. I used to love to watch those movies and laugh. Popular? No. We all just try to get through and hope we make it. I did. Others weren't so lucky. Memories come swiftly--much to my chagrin. The smell of fresh paint that always lingered. The hot soup Mr.Akin would bring in on freezing days. My friends, Kacy, Albert, and B. I haven't spoken to them in a while. I stare at the email again. Should I go? Our school's events were legendary for how bad they were. A few posters, a teacher with a radio, and some cookies. Maybe punch or some streamers. But that was it. I hated going to them. But, on the other hand, I miss my classmates. I'll talk to June about it later. For now, I turn off my phone, stick my cheap earbuds back in, and continue with the video. The rsvp isn't due for three weeks. I have plenty of time.


That night, it came back. I roll over in my soft bed. my face is buried in my pillow. 10th grade is real again. I open my eyes and blink. I'm in a hallway. Which hallway? I pivot on the spot. A fresh coat of faded blue is on the walls. The PA is blasting some indistinct announcement. Students and teachers alike chatter as they walk to class. I look down. My hiking boots are one. I step forward. I hear clomp. The laces are tied neatly--I must've taken a few tries this morning. I look to my left. A bulletin board is on the wall. Flyers are lined up in rows. I glance at them. A birth. The first day of school. A first loose tooth. A receiving of honour roll. I cackle as I read them closer. My birth. These are all important events in my life. I look to the right. The bulletin board extends down the hall. I cackle again. I'm finding this hilarious. Little giggles and snorts leak their way into the hall. No one stares. They just keep walking. I put my hands on my knees. I'm wearing some snow pants from the third grade. They only go to just past my knees. I'm about to fall to the floor. A hand stops me; It grabs my shoulder and steadies my body. it drains the mirth right out of me. I straighten up and face my saviour. Happy eyes smile at me. wild, brown hair falls over a dark face. "Albert?"

Albert's lips point upward. " Hey."

An emotion I can't quite place rushes through my bones. I don't know what I'm doing. I reach forward and pull him into a kiss. There's no spark; I don't feel a flood of heat. But something lingers after we seperate. Something I don't want to go away. "How are you?" I ask.

Albert blushes at the question. His hair becomes crimson. "I'm actually kind of tired." He admits.

"What time is it?"

Albert shrugs. "I don't know. I'll ask Kacy. Kacy!"

Kacy floats down from the sky. elegant wings burst into flames when she touches the dirty school floor. "What's up?" she asks.

"Do you know the time?" I ignore her entrance.

She checks the watch she's had since she was twelve. It was her aunt's. "10:30. Wow, we have to get to class."

"We do?"

Albert rolls his eyes. "Well, duh. Just kiss Kacy and we can get to class."

A lightbulb goes off in my head. "Oh, Kacy. Sorry I forgot to kiss you."

Kacy shakes her head. Her freckles seem to be dancing on her face. "It's okay. Just do it and we can go."

I step forward and press my lips against her. She grips my waist. We're rotating again and again. Flowers grow from our lips. I release my grip on her. Blinding lights look down on the three of us. We're in class. Albert and Kacy are already at their desks. I look around for mine. The desks are wooden with an attached chair. The school was sick of people leaning back in their seats and falling off, so they got replacements. "Hey!" Kacy calls. "Sit next to me!"

How had I not noticed that before? I slide in and stare at the sheet. Adjectives swim around pools of punctuation. Nouns ride verbs through countrysides of synonyms. Happy exclamation marks dance around my name. I don't understand A word of it. I tap the shoulder of the person in front of me "Could you help me? I don't-"

The person in the black hoodie turns around. Blue curls are tucked behind two ears with studs in them. Freckles darker than Kacy's grin. "Oh. Hey B."

B's eyes scan me before relaxing. "Hi. Don't ask me for help. You know math is where I shine."

"Yeah, yeah. Come here."

B leans into the kiss. Rainbows and dew drops slide down my irises. Faces of all kinds give me remarks. I pull away and adjust my shirt.

"Do you know anything about this?"

B leans over. The head with the blue curls shakes. "I wish. What I wouldn't do to understand it."

I chew on my pen. It tastes like the french fries at the carnival where B and I met. “I would kill to make sense of this.”

“Okay. Do it.”

I stare at B confusedly. “Huh?”

“Kill someone.”

I contemplate this. Killing is bad. But so is getting a bad grade.

“Hmm. Maybe. Come back to me.”

I look at the words again. They jump out at me. An exclamation mark pokes me in the eye. The rest follow. The words are attacking my face. I try to swat them away. It doesn’t work. My hands shake and grab my neck. I stare at the ceiling. It’s black. The school repainted it again. I roll my eyes and lean back in my chair. It falls to the ground, and I bang my head.


My eyelids grudgingly lift, exposing me to a new day. My neck is aching. Because I slept on it or something. Bits on sunlight shine in through the blinds. I turn to see what time it is. The alarm clock I got in college is on my nightstand. 9:39. I slept in. Speaking of sleeping, my dream comes back to me. My brain was screaming at me. It told me things I didn’t want to know. I smack my lips. Morning breath is terrible. I’ll get up and brush my teeth. But first, I have a matter to attend to. My phone is also on the nightstand. I take it off and turn it on. A text from B. Will I see you at the reunion?

I press it. We haven’t even texted each other in months. My fingers start typing out a long answer. I include the dream. I explain my reasons. I tell B what I’ve been up to over the summer. But I hover over send. B won’t read this. Or have I forgotten my friend? I delete everything and write one word. I press send, turn off my phone, And throw the blankets off me. My mind is whirling right now. I stagger to my stiff feet and start my trek to the bathroom. The beating of my heart is loud. I don’t care. No one’s around to hear it.


In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Bailey M. Neilmon gets a text from a friend. This friend has been with Bailey since freshman year. The text itself is short and decisive. That’s not something Bailey’s friend is good at. As Bailey stares at it, high school is new again. Bailey’s phone turns off. It’s tossed on the counter for later. But the text stays. One word. Capable of breaking a heart. Bailey’s is shattered. The word is burned into the phone. It can be deleted, but it’s still read. The word, in all its power, is simply No.

September 28, 2020 18:05

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Len Mooring
21:14 Oct 01, 2020

Welcome back, Steinbeck. It's great to be able to read without being jolted back to reality. Such a simple tale told in a captivating way.


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Iris Silverman
19:42 Sep 29, 2020

The dream is SUCH an accurate portrayal of a dream -- the odd, nonsensical remarks and the strange behaviors of the classmates. The random thoughts we had before we went to sleep kind of just seep in and combine with other memories we have... etc. I also thought it was a good piece on the pain of losing old friends. There aren't really enough stories about the heartbreak from losing friends and sometimes losing our high school friends can be so devastating. The statement "it can be deleted, but it's read," really resonated with me, too. G...


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