hELP I WANTED HIGHSCHOOL AU TO BE THE HAPPY ONE AND THEN IT WAS A SADS???? also this is vague because I didn’t remember what the exact details were when you were first talking about it? also it makes none sense, but sssshhhhhh
You want a story, John, then here it is: Toby leaves town the night of graduation.
But tell the story yourself, John, because isn’t that what you always wanted, piece it together, find the structure; tell how you waited to apologize, how you searched for him in the crowd, how you finally tapped Sean on the shoulder and asked, “Have you seen Toby?”
“No,” said Sean, and it was a testament to everything that he didn’t seem surprised that you were asking. “No, why, is Toby missing too?”
“What do you mean?” you said.
“I haven’t seen Jack all night,” said Sean, “but I haven’t seen Olan, either, so—”
“Right,” you said, stepping back. “Okay.”
“I’ll let you know if I see him,” said Sean, but he was already piecing it together, and you were already gone.
And Toby is still driving.
This is the story as you tell it, quick cuts between you and him; and that’s a wish, John, okay, *listen*, that’s desperation, that’s you trying to will the two of you closer, connected, like you know what he’s doing and he knows how you feel, when in actuality all he knows are his knuckles white on the steering wheel, the burning in the back of his throat, the crescendo of his own imagination.
That’s how stories go, isn’t it— cars, and beautiful boys who won’t tell you that they love you. Here’s your story, John— it’s a boy driving away.
Besides you, Sean is the first one to text him; “you remember graduation is tonight dont you,” he sends, and then , fifteen minutes later, “please dont be doing anything stupid.”
Ten minutes later he gets a text from Jack— “TOBY WHERE R U COME BACK :(“— followed by another— “Sorry, Olan took my phone.
Please do come back, though.”
And then another from you, and another, and another; and then one from Justine.
“You don’t have to do this.”
You call him. You call him. You call him. He does not answer.
But, John, tell how you went to his house as soon as you could, before the graduation ceremony was even over, and when his mother answered the door she said, “Mr. Green,” like she’d been expecting you. (Everyone knows your story, John; is this what you wanted?)
You said, “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I— Toby wasn’t at graduation, and. I wanted to make sure everything was okay.”
Mrs. Turner looked at you sadly, and then cleared her throat. “Toby…” she started. “Toby had— he had plans to go to California after graduation, and he just— he wanted—”
She looked at you and tried to smile, and she said, “He left.”
You fill in the details, John, this is what you’re good at, tell how you felt the ground drop out from under you, how you felt like your world was ending— and Toby is still driving.
The one call he responds to is from a number he’s only seen a few times; he picks up the phone, and he doesn’t have time to say hello before Hank snaps, “What are you doing?”
“I’m leaving,” Toby says, all mock-casual ”I mean. This is what you wanted, isn’t it?”
“Yes, because clearly what I was saying was, ‘run to the West Coast without telling anybody,’ Jesus, what is *wrong* with you?”
“I had to—” Toby starts, and Hank is shouting.
“You *can’t do this to him, Toby.*”
Would it make you feel better if that was when Toby started crying? Because he doesn’t, but you can pretend he does. You can pretend he cries for you now, instead of three days later, pretend he breaks down instead of telling Hank, “I had to, okay, look, I had to, we can’t do this, *I* can’t do this, and he deserves—”
This is your story. You fill in the blank.
Hank goes quiet, and then says, “I’ll call you back.”
Toby doesn’t answer the phone again.
He’s still driving, he’s driving until you write the ending, John; so write it.
What are you waiting for?