Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day #25 — Who Would Like to Go First

Prompt: Who Would Like to Go First

Tapping the edge of the yardstick on the floor between her splayed feet, Mrs. Cumberman looked around the room, slowly sliding her eyes up one row of desks and down the next. Tricia could feel the beady black eyes scorch the part in her hair as Mrs. Cumberman passed by her downturned head.

"Who would like to go first?" the teacher asked, taking a deep breath and holding it while she waited for a volunteer to come forward. "No one? David Anderson? How about you?"

"No, ma'am," David said.

"No, ma'am what?" Mrs. Cumberman tapped hard on the last word.

"No, ma'am, I would not like to go first. I had the flu till yesterday and just go the assignment from my brother last night, so my project is not ready."

"I see. How many days did you miss?"

"Six school days."

"Then you have until Monday to complete your project. You will go first on Monday. Patricia Bailey. I have just volunteered you to go first, since the rest of the class seems to have suddenly contracted stage fright and Mr. Anderson is just back from sick leave."

Tricia stared at her desk. Every hair on her arms was standing on end, like the time when she rubbed it against her birthday balloon. Her feet were itchy inside her shoes and socks, and she couldn't bring herself to look up as she grabbed her poster board and headed to the front of the room.

"Class, Miss Bailey will be your teacher for the next five minutes. What topic will you be enlightening us about today, Miss Bailey?"

"The bmermer," Tricia mumbled.

"Speak up, Miss Bailey. The students in the back of your classroom cannot hear you. In fact, the students in the front rows cannot even hear you. Ricky Balsam, can you hear Miss Bailey?"

Ricky cupped his hand behind his ear. "Eh? Did you say something, teach?" he said, and the class giggled. Tricia glared at him from under her lowered eyelids.

"The BEAVER," she shouted so loudly that the sound ricocheted off the back wall and bounced back so loudly into her own ears that she had to cover them with her hands.

Time: 10 minutes

They say that public speaking ranks in the top three things that people fear the most. I think most people remember feeling terrified at the idea of making a fool of themselves in front of classmates, especially if they had a teacher who they perceived as mean. If I were to spend time rewriting this scene, I would concentrate on how Tricia was feeling.

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