The music swelled as the line moved forward to receive their hard earned graduation diplomas.

She shuffled forward in line with the others, her feet moving one in front of the other, seemingly of their own free will. The applause mingled as each recipient accepted the piece of paper that they had worked so hard to achieve.

The last few months had gone by like a dream, the last few weeks, the prom, and now the graduation. She smiled to herself, the last three years had been hard, and yet all the time there was Peter. He had been there throughout all that time. Their love had been one that had grown with each passing term, from young love to what they had now. She looked up and caught her parents sitting next to his smiling and talking to each other. The families as well as everybody else knew that she and Peter were destined to be a couple forever.

Their young love had blossomed, and though many, many times they both had wanted and needed to go much further than their youthful petting, they had both agreed to wait until after their graduation.

Even their parents had understood. Her mother had one of those "Mother-Daughter" talks only the week before, asking her questions that made both of them blush. They wanted each other so much and lived for the special night they had planned for over these years. The two tickets, a gift from Peter's parents for a vacation in Florida, were even booked for a single room at the hotel.

The line moved forward again and she followed the person in front of her without even realizing what she was doing.

Peter had always been there for her. Always that was, until four weeks ago.

He had been traveling home from a baseball game when a truck had jackknifed across the road, sideswiping his car and sending it off the road and into a river.

He had been pulled from the wrecked car and driven to hospital. She had dashed with her family to be with him, tears streaming down her face and her heart beating like a hammer. She was allowed to be in the intensive care unit with him, and she held his hand for 15 minutes, until he looked up at her, and whispered with a soft voice; "I love you, Sharon". She had answered telling him of her love for him. Before she realized that with those last words he had died.

That was four weeks ago. The prom dress was still hanging on her bedroom door, since she didn't have the chance to wear it. The tickets would remain on her nightstand. Her special night would never happen.

Always there had been Peter, but no more.

She looked up and realized that she was next to receive her diploma, and she climbed the stairs and shook hands without feeling anything, anything except the emptiness that now existed in her heart. Tears no longer flowed from her eyes, as there weren't any more left.

Always there had been Peter, but now he was gone.

© Barry Eva November 2003