A Story Where Bravery Doesn’t Prevail
“We will-!” I start off strong, too strong, and it catches me off guard.
“We will..” I lose my enthusiasm.
“We will.” It feels as though I dived off a cliff without looking to see if there was water at the bottom, and now I’m flailing head first into a pile of rocks.
“Soak your burial-” at this point my voice is far too low for even me to hear, and my heart is thumping harder than ever, trying to escape my chest so that it could hide in a corner. I hear laughter in the theater, and my body finally hits the rocks, but instead of causing death, I am now a spectacle for all to see. Quick come see this twitching body on the rocks, they will say as they laugh at me.
It’s junior year of high school, and a trip is being announced in my US history class to see Hamilton. Every junior is allowed to go, but the set of juniors who win a creative writing project will get front row tickets. I immediately make a group of my close friends, Arianna, Rockie, and Rosalia. The only downside of this competition is that the winners will go on to present their piece in a theater full of complete strangers. I choose the people in my group because they are very outgoing and I, on the other hand, am very shy and have a huge fear of public speaking. I’m persistent with wanting to win because I love Hamilton, and front row tickets would be a dream to get especially since the show is so expensive.
“Okay, guys! Once you’re on the website it’ll give you a list of topics you may write about” Mrs. Wagner, the US teacher, says to the large group which raided her room during lunch.
“All we have to do is choose a topic, and I can just write it on my own,” I say, and my group nods at this.
“What about this one?” we continuously ask about each topic we find interesting, but at least one of us would disagree.
“What about this one?” Rosalia asks when she points to the Boston Massacre, we all agree Instantly.
Around midnight I start getting ready for bed, and am falling asleep when suddenly I am jerked awake by an idea of what to write. I pour out my writing and an hour passes as though I’m a white settler angry at Europe for high taxation, and have finished.
After three hours of sleep, my alarm yanks me out of sleep, and I’m in desperate need of an iced-coffee even though it is the middle of winter. Everything including the trees are shivering. The trip is in the middle of January, so I have a week to edit as well as figure out the logistics of who will say which part of the poem. So with this in mind, my group and I go straight to Mrs. Wagner’s room during lunch.
“I finished writing it, and I’m sending it to you guys right now” I say as I send the Google docs to everyone in my group including Mrs. Wagner.
“This is really good but,” she interjects, “I’ll edit it a bit for you.”
And with that she edits my work as Rockie, Rosalia, Arianna, and I figure out which parts we want.
“I want the first part,” Rockie says.
“I’ll go after that,” Rosalia adds.
“I’ll take the third one,” Arianna says.
“Ughhh, I really don’t wanna speak in front of an entire theater full of people, but I’ll say the last part, if we say the names of the people who died separately” I say in a pleading tone.
They shrug their shoulders in agreement, and everything is running smoothly. Now, all we have to do is read the edited version which our history teacher finished fixing in under ten minutes. I read her version, and I give a thumbs up to say I agree with her changes.
“Next week whoever wins gets to perform their piece in the Richard Rogers Theater, and if you want you can read it from the paper” Mrs. Wagner says as she prints out the poem for us.
Two days later the winners are announced in Mrs. Wagner’s room, “Arianna, Milton, Rockie, and Rosalia will be presenting, and have won the front row tickets.” My group rejoices, but my stomach turns in fear.
The next week comes, and we stand in the middle of the stage. The theater is jam packed with people, and I could still feel my heart racing. Rockie speaks his part with perfect execution like the star quarterback spiralling a football once ‘10 mississippi’ is said. Now it’s Rosalia’s turn and she clears the path for me, pushing away any football players from me, and Arianna follows in her lead. The path is clear for me to catch the ball, I can see the ball coming towards me, but suddenly it’s on the ground, I fumble it; we lose.
“We will-” I say, and the audience roars with laughter when they see my body on the rocks.
After the miserable performance I go to my teacher who hands us the front row tickets, and I try my hardest to not make eye contact. “You did amazing,” Mrs. Wagner says.
“Thanks” I say in a tone of defeat. I take the tickets, and sit with my group in the row our tickets designated. Once there my eyelids grow heavy since the social situation drained my battery, and I watch the show consistently having to battle sleep. Rockie falls asleep during the second act, and Rosalia had already knocked out before Hamilton could even introduce himself. I feel Arianna’s head on my shoulder, which convinces me to give in as well, and sleep along with the rest of them.
Mrs. Wagner shakes us awake at the end of the show, “Did you four actually go to sleep?”
“Public humiliation is a tiresome act,” I say in a joking tone as I get up from my chair.
My group laughs at this and Rosalia says, “At least you’re joking about it, I thought you’d try to bury it and forget about it.”
“I learned my lesson, and like Icarus I flew too close to the sun. Next time I’ll stick with tripping in public if I want to be embarrassed,” I say and with that we leave the theater and go our separate ways home.
It feels almost pointless that I went through that, but I did learn that my writing was good enough to speak for itself, and I didn’t have to perform it to hundreds of people. I developed a hatred for poetry after that experience, and I haven’t written one since, but writing this, albeit dramatic, narrative has reminded me of my love for English. So, it came as no surprise that I wanted to go back to my original life plan of being an English major, and to ultimately get my masters degree in MLS (Master of Library Science) degree.