I kept track of the others, after we left. I'm not sure why I did it - maybe a part of me was still craving redemption and acceptance through those that I once considered my inferiors, but I don't really know. I'm honestly not sure that I even understand what happened that Saturday, except that I saw the others, and my own life, through different eyes. I saw each of us admit to our hopes and fears in front of people who we had considered strangers just hours before. And now I can see how those hopes and fears have come to fruition.
Claire became a Hollywood diva, of course. I was sure that she would before that detention, and I was just as certain afterwards. She moved to Hollywood the week after graduation, and she was almost immediately cast as the star of a teen movie. Her first two movies were huge roles, and she starred as the pretty young ingénue, to much critical acclaim, but then she broke the cliché. Her third film, her 'make or break' role, as she said, came up, and instead of choosing the pretty, perfect, cheerleader sister, she chose the sick one. I don't know if she was channeling Allison, or if she really did have that much ugly insanity repressed inside…
It was a smash hit, and a turning point for her. Claire never played the ingénue again, and I found that I respected her more for it. I'd like to think that Alison and the others might have respected her more too, but though I know everything that they did after that Saturday, I have no way to discover their actual feelings after that momentous day.
I'm inclined to blame my dad, for disregarding my own feelings to the point that I don't even know what I want anymore, but I've realized that blaming him doesn't solve anything. In fact, I think I realized it sometime between the locker room and the detention session, but I couldn't admit it until I spoke to Brian.
Brian didn't surprise me either. He was immediately drafted out of graduation to go to Harvard, and he quickly sailed through the program with a double major of math and chemistry. He was offered a job by NASA, but he turned them down to teach high school science in Shermer. I suspect that his parents are disappointed in him, but I know his students are the better for his presence.
Bender - probably the least likely of us to leave town or succeed at anything - he really surprised me. He barely even graduated, and was almost held back, until he turned in all of his English homework on the last day of class. Not just his homework for the year, but for all 4 years he had been at Shermer High. Some days I think that they graduated him just so that they wouldn't have to teach him for another year, but I realize that those thoughts belong to the child I was before that Saturday.
After graduation, Bender hit the road and quickly became a stage hand for Guns 'n' Roses, and later R.E.M. He soon transitioned to playing in the opening act for groups like Nine Inch Nails and Korn. He played the drums, which I found a bit surprising, given his air guitar solos in the library that day, but apparently I didn't know John Bender all that well. He played in a few bands, and eventually he became the drummer for a group called Death by Stereo. Now he's a big time record producer in Orange County, near Claire. I wasn't sure if they still were in contact, until Bender's label produced the soundtrack to her last movie. Now the 'criminal' of our group is a millionaire, and he did it without ever spending an hour in jail.
I think that biggest surprise, though, is Allison. Our kiss in the parking lot was not our last - I also took her to the prom. I thought I was being greatly daring - taking a member of the social misfit caste to such a major high school moment, but none of my friends even recognized her. Claire knew the truth, but everyone else assumed that she was simply from another school. And I let them. I was still too afraid of what other people thought of me.
After graduation, she left Illinois, traveled the world, and met kings and dictators and chefs and beggars. She wrote down her stories, with a helping dose of her own beliefs, and became a hit. By the age of 28 Allison was living in a village at the foot of Mt Everest with 5 best sellers and a movie deal in the works. She's a certifiable success, despite her own misgivings.
I couldn't help but remember her assertion, back in the library, that she would travel the world one day, and the way that Brian and I had laughed. It seemed absurd at the time, that such a basket case would ever amount to anything higher than a bag lady, but she proved us wrong.
I didn't prove anyone wrong. I don't know if the others have done the same, following each other after high school, but I do know that Bender would die of laughter if he saw where I ended up. I got into Iowa on a wrestling scholarship, and started dating a girl named Andrea, who was studying English and working as a stewardess over the summers. And then, senior year, I got my greatest wish. I blew my knee out halfway through the season. Just like that, all of my future goals were gone, and I had to find something new to do with my life. I limped through classes until graduation, and then I went back to Shermer.
Amazingly, Andrea came with me, and she's given me two gorgeous daughters. To support my little family, I started as an assistant coach here at Shermer High, and when my old coach retired, I took over his job. I spout the same tired clichés and tales of my glory years that he did, and I watch as the boys under my care grow into the same socially brainwashed jocks that I once was.
Where the others found success and happiness and a place where they belonged, I found myself stuck in the same place that I had felt so powerless all of my young life. As Allison said, we become our parents. I don't know how the others managed to break from their stereotypes, but for me it just didn't happen. For me it was inevitable. I became my father.