The teacher's words intimidated me to the core, and twenty shuffling pairs of eyes were focused on me, like a camera turned in on zoom. I glanced at my group mates for help on the subject, but they shook their heads. Great, I thought. Just the exact sort of help that I required at the moment when we are practicing for the mandatory oratorical contest to take place in our language arts room.
This was not like me, standing here paralyzed by the abundant amount of faces in the room. I was usually calm when it came to speaking. After two months of attending public high school, I was familiar and unfazed with the majority of the student body having to "look down" upon me due to my small demeanor and every other aspect that classified me as sophomore underdog. If it wasn't for the entire student body that made me unease, then who--or what-- was?
I brought the paper in my hands up to my face and began to analyze it. "M-m-m-many American citizen's rights were v-v-violated because of p-p-prejudice and p-presumptions made of people who were a certain g-g-gender or race..." My throat tightened, and I couldn't stand to speak anymore. The falter in my voice was evident. I never had believed in the force of ESP, but I tried to connect with everyone in my group, thinking, "Please cover up for me!"
I gazed at the faces of everyone who was present in the dingy classroom, irregular to all of the other classrooms that were remodeled last year. Half of the people paid no attention or interest to what we had to say and went back to gazing mindlessly at the walls. I felt my shoulders relax, if only briefly.
Ms. Piccolo was smiling broadly at me in encouragement, and I could feel my ears beginning to burn in embarrassment. Her entire appearance seemed to glow an aura of encouragement and brightness, a bright smile that was white brought by whitening tooth paste (I speculated), blonde hair that was the alter-ego of hay, and the crinkled look in the sides of her eyes. Someone was taping on their pencil to the pacing rhythm of my heart: lub-dub, lup-dub, lub-dub.
My eyes settled on four people sitting at a table cluster located next to wear Ms. Piccolo stood, and I certainly felt my heart palpitating when my gaze feel upon them.
There they were, four of some of the smartest people in our grade which I was going up against for a scholarship. The school was so small with there being only 100 students per grade, that I had a generalization of who everyone was.
Thomas Chiang-Wang, McKenna Roseby, Davy Edwards, and Henley Rowing were those four people at the desk and all in a group together. They were the ones who caused me to watch my step, to take on all-nighters studying, to let me just sit their and watch as their talents matched their heights.
Once again, there they were. Oddly, they did not stare me down with their usual dagger-like stares. Their looks were filled with a wide-eyed curiosity with a dash of amusement. If the laws of science applied and four teenagers stared down one measly student, heat would be produced, and indeed, the temperature in the room rose up 20 degrees. I pulled on the collar of my shirt. What if I messed up? What if--
I broke away from their eye contact. Now was not the time to worry what they thought of me. The situation at hand was to save my group from being speechless and being embarrassed by some form of humiliation. I needed to focus.
"Um... never mind. Ms. Piccolo, may our group please return back to our seats and present sometime later in the day?"
Her smile sundered. She was obviously disappointed, but she replied, "Of course. Group three, please leave the front of the classroom. Group four, please present your presentation."
Our group sat back down as Henley's group went up to present their speech, I buried my face under my arms. I was feeling too ashamed to watch. I messed up. I caused my team to look bad in front of the entire class because I was rendered speechless by fear.
I peeped up from my under my arms. They looked so confident and fearless. Some of their confidence they must have received from being so tall, I'm sure. They carried with them this notorious aura which caused everyone to swivel their heads around.
They were the ones who are causing me to aim at nothing but perfection. What can an underdog do when you are going against the leaders of the pack? What have underdogs, in history, done, against their fights? What do people do when they rebel against our mainstream society?
No matter what happens, I must not fail under any circumstances: grades, activities, the scholarship program, everything.
And I do not intend to fail.
Also, I'm going to share this piece of news with you guys: If you remember my first post this month, I mentioned that the doctors, when I went to go and get a sports physical, detected a third heartbeat while listening to my heart. I went to the cardiologist on Thursday, and they found out what's happening with my heart! Apparently, I have type one heart block. If I remember correctly, it can go both ways: I can get better or worse. There is a treatment for it, which I have to do, and I'm trying to put tons of effort to get better. I may be going back at the end of October or in six months for a follow up. And apparently there may be a leakage in my heart...
If you have no idea what exactly it is, I'll provide this link and this one. I'm not great at explain. But here's somewhat of a visual of what's happening to my heart.