COUNTDOWN by Camper Ruybal

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Twelve days until graduation. Most of us have never felt so much pressure in our entire high school career then in this exact moment. The days seem to be clicking by like the dreaded seconds on an obnoxiously loud analog clock in an uncomfortable receptionist’s office. The drumming of pencils on desks as people sit staring at their fictional great wall of writers block while their minds wander off thinking about other things.

Eleven days until graduation. Seniors are planning their senior skip days and procrastinating their school work even further. Most of us have a stack of work next to our bedside with big red due dates looming nearer and nearer. The weather is getting nice.

Ten days until graduation. Today is senior skip day. Everyone is at the beach relaxing and celebrating having made it through their final year of school. The homework is still by the beds gathering dust with those ominous due dates creeping closer and closer.

Nine days until graduation. Recovery sets in.  The dates loom nearer and nearer. Grandma says she’s so proud of us while those dates creep into our minds, guilt consumes our thoughts.

Eight days until graduation. Our distant family and friends have all voiced their congratulations for our achievement that no one knows we are so far from. The dates are past. We’re begging the teachers to give us an extension while we secretly toil away at the homework.

Seven days until graduation. Senior awards were today; Best in class, Perfect attendance, Straight A’s. Your name was not called. The projects are nearly done. You toil away from dusk til dawn working on nothing besides school work.

Six days until graduation. Dad flew out to watch you walk across the stage and get your diploma, yet he looks at you as if you already have it. You received a deficiency slip instead of your tickets for family to watch you walk. You fear disappointing everyone. You finally turn in your work.

Five days until graduation. You’ve picked up your cap and gown, but still haven’t confirmed that your deficiencies have been removed. You feel the pressure of the event looming on the horizon that you still are not sure you will be a part of.

Four days until graduation. This all feels like a dream. The constant ticking of the old analogue clock is back in your mind. Seems like every time you close your eyes your a day closer to graduation and yet another mile away.

Three days until graduation. You have dreams about walking down the stage with so many other fellow classmates, but when its your turn to get your diploma handed to you, but they hand you a blank sheet of paper. You wake up in a panic to your alarm clock. “Its a beautiful sunny morning here in Vancouver, Washington. A great day to go to the beach or-.” You slam down the alarm off button.

Two days until graduation. The ticking of the days going by has slowed to nearly a hault. You feel as though everything you do in these moments will define who you are for the rest of your life.

The day before graduation. All of the lonely nights up with nothing besides your pen and paper to keep you company while whittling away at your homework has paid off. You’re passing all of your classes. The last final tick on the clock has passed, nearly grinding to a halt as it does.

The day is here. Your heart is pounding so loudly it seems as though it could drown out any sound in the crowd of anxious seniors all looking for their seats before the ceremony begins.

You watch with angst as your fellow classmates get called down one by one, remembering your dream. Time seems to slow down as the announcer lets your name roll off his tongue for the entire stadium to hear. You can feel the eyes of everyone around you boring into you. As you walk up to receive your diploma you can feel the sweat on your brow.

Reaching to shake the principals hand and grab your diploma you feel a sudden sense of relief. The clock is ticking again, but it is at a normal pace. You take your seat among your fellow graduates


 – Words and Audio by Camper Ruybal

 – Image by Dmitry Ivanchuk