32 thirty two
"Alright, one last picture before you go." Janet motioned me to stand still. She flashed a picture on her phone. She looked at the photo and her eyes welled with tears.
"Really, Janet?" I walked to her and gave her a tight hug. "Are we really gonna do this? We will be late."
She dabbed her eyes, careful not to smudge her make-up. "Sorry, I never realized how grown up you've become."
"Janet, come on.." I kissed the top of her head, "let's save that for later."
She nodded and hooked her arms around mine. I escorted her to the car where my mom and dad sat waiting.
"Ready?" Dad asked from the driver's side. "Let's go."
It was a short drive towards school. In the usual days, I just walked breathing the morning air, while students clambered into their school services or bicycles. The younger ones, mostly comes in groups running near the campus, already sweaty even before the day starts. Then the school bells will ring and the morning assembly would start. There's the prayer, then the national anthem followed by a short speech by the principal, a reminder not to run into the halls when there are classes, reminders to study for the upcoming exams, announcement of achievements of the inter school quiz bee. Then we'd file into a line going to class.
I got out of the car and looked at the school building, it's white walls, the lobby, the lockers that were painted neat on the first day and vandalized the next, the hallways that lead to the classrooms and club rooms, the library, the faculty, the gym.
Dad placed a hand on my shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. He nodded and we walked towards the gym. When we arrived, the gym had already been transformed into a decent event hall, the walls were carpeted, the chairs had been aligned, facing the stage, the sound system had been installed and the podium had been erected. In the midst of my observation, Jessie came running to me, dragging Lloyd with her.
"Hi sir, mam, Janet." She gave them all a hurried wave before turning to me. Jessie, as usual, was astounding. Her hair was neatly pinned in place, her make-up was light, just enough to give her pink cheeks and tinted lips, complimenting her pink dress. "Picture!"
Lloyd stood awkwardly beside her and raised his camera. Jessie hooked her arms on my neck and made the peace sign.
"Aherm," we both turned and saw Rick standing behind us. His hair was neatly combed, he was wearing a blue polo shirt and black pants. He looked great, I could only stare. He saw me looking at him, drooling would be more accurate, and gave me a swift kiss on the lips. I felt my eyes flushed in embarrassment when I noticed a few eyes on us. Well, it's Rick, the popular former basketball captain, so it's common to have eyes around him, moreover, we were standing by the doorway.
"L-let me take a picture of you. " Lloyd said nervously. "Yearbook?"
We all smiled as Lloyd took the photo. Then Rick pushed Jessie away and put his arms around mine. He grinned mischievously while our photo was taken.
"You know what to do." Rick gave Lloyd a thumbs up and he saluted in response.
The scene looked so familiar I let out a chuckle.
"What?" Rick looked at me, eyebrows raised.
"You should be paying the kid for the photos, you know." I answered.