Writers witness and write. After seeing the sadest little student council race I came home and had to write this. The child in the story was a stranger to me, but watching him innocent and brave gave me hope for any dream I have hopes of accomplishing. It showed me that you have to try and do your best and that when that isn't good enough that God will send people to your life to help you.
“Josh, you’re up!” Thundered throughout the cafetorium, or maybe the thundering was only in his head. His ten year old body was concrete as he tried to make his way to the microphone. All the eyes were on him. He could feel each one steeling his strength.
Last night in front of his mirror he was the greatest politician that ever lived. The people he spoke to laughed, cried, they were moved by him. He was empowered by them. He was strong. He knew what to say. Last night he knew this moment would change his life forever. He was right.
Today, the walk with all eyes on him took every bit of strength he could muster. In his mind he told himself, “Okay Josh, this is show time,” and he slowly turned around to face his audience.
Facing the audience was much worse then before. Earlier he could only imagine the eyes, now here they were, all on him. He swallowed hard.
That giggly girl from his history class was sitting in the front row swinging her feet back and forth without a care in the world. He had a deep and sudden urge to punch her as hard as he could in the face. He didn’t. Mr. Frank, his math teacher, was smiling strangely at a visiting mom. His other teachers were shifting from side to side like their feet hurt. Josh wanted to go back to his seat, but there he stood frozen. Absentmindedly his hand clutched at the microphone gripping and releasing causing a loud static to ring out on every contraction. Josh never noticed the static noise nor could he stop clutching.
Knees weak and feeling a sudden need for oxygen he squeezed his eyes close and inhaled with all his might. Unfortunately with eyes closed he did not see that when he blew his air filled cheeks out that the stream of oxygen was aimed at the microphone amplifying his panic for all watching. When his eyes opened for a quick second all that he could see before him were tiny dots. Josh clutched at his speech. His hands were moist and the paper wilted under his touch.
“Hmm, hmm I am Josh. I am running for …” his panic had stolen the last of his air. Time to breathe, Josh get a grip on yourself. What is wrong with you? His mind shouted. Block out the eyes. Pretend it is the mirror you are looking at.
“Hmm, hmm,” he just couldn’t seem to clear his throat enough. Nothing would help. “Just do it, so you can sit back down,” he screamed at himself.
“I am running for Student Council Vice President.” Where was his place? Between the breathing and the eye clinching he had no idea where he was on his paper. Oh, God! Why? Why did everything always go wrong for him? No good, the paper is of no use. In a disparate display he crunched the paper loudly at his side with his free hand. Finally the uncomfortable display was too much for Mrs. Jones and she snuck up behind him embracing his shoulder while she uncrunched his paper and whispered in his ear.
“Come on, we can do this together. She found his lost words and slowly one by one fed them to him like a baby bird. Josh, followed her lead repeating everything she said with his eyes safely shut, squeezed tight and hard while he continued to grasp and release the microphone. If she paused he breathed, shooting every heavy stream of air at the awaiting microphone. When she was done, she patted him on the shoulder and he opened his eyes. His chest ached. His fingers were numb. His nose felt like it was running down his face. His ten year old body felt as though he had been in a car wreck. Not caring who watched he returned to the security of his seat. Cheeks hot from the burn of embarrassment he looked down at his knees, it was all over. Some dreams die early.