Ready for chapter 3 of "Watch"? I'm quite happy as how this chapter turned out; the speech that Melody gives is a speech that I wish I could give if I was in her position. I got misty-eyed writing this. If you missed parts one and two, read them here and here!
“Are you ready?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” That day was the last time our entire senior class would be together for a very long time. Today was graduation. I was crowned as valedictorian. Never would I have thought that I would have been given the honor to uphold such a position, but there I was, five minutes before my time to present. Monique and Amy stood by my side, next to the platform. The boys, Peter and Luke, were in their seats, neatly placed in alphabetical order by last name. “Should you two be back in the rows?”
“Back in the rows?” Amy giggled. She was dressed up neater somehow; it must have been the job of graduation gowns, whose shade of rows matched her eyes. “Who says back in the rows?”
I didn’t reply to her remark. My hands were shaking. Some of the notecards in my hands fell to the ground. I kept looking out into the seats and bleachers. Everyone inside of the gymnasium will be a spectator to the speech I was about to make. And possibly, quite possibly, if the busyness of life would calm from its commotion for once, they could be here.
Monique crossed her arms. “Ames, can you just go back to your seat? You’re not helping her. Besides, I want to talk to Melody for a second. Alone.”
Amy pulled up her arms out in defeat but didn’t argue.
Monique and I were left standing. The two of us stood like that, watching the Marching Band play a mashup of songs. Monique piped up, “You’re still waiting for them, huh? Hoping they will be here?”
“How did you—?”
“Relax. We’re best friends. Your problems are very much easy to convey. I don’t think anyone can do better than I can, except for Luke, probably. He has liked you for a very long time.” My stomach dropped. “I can read your problems for a mile away. It’s not ESP; it’s an internal thing.”
“No, it’s a best friend kind of thing.”
“Yeah.” She leaned back against the stage and smiled slowly. “I’m really going to miss you while I’m off to USC. Honestly, you’ve been fighting for your brothers and sisters’ attention for years. Why?”
“You of all people know why.” The feeling in my feet was absent. Blood throbbed in my clenched hands. “I wanted their love… their respect, at the least, but they seemed to show nothing to me.”
“You’re trying so hard. You live in this fantasy that everything will be all right, but it’s not always like that. It’s an utter cliché!”
“Haven’t you realized that life is full of clichés?”
“Yes, obviously. If they don’t realize and value you as a little sister, then you shouldn’t try so hard for their attention. Besides, we’re all family—me, Amy, Luke, and Peter, even if Luke does like you as more than a friend. Aren’t we?”
Her words seemed a little sad and desperate. I could tell that she wanted to help me see myself in a better view, but no—this is what I worked hard for. The marching band’s performance came to a close. The principal makes the introduction, the momentum needed for me to appear on stage. I shook off Monique’s hand from my shoulder and rose onto the stage steps. “Even if you know me, you wouldn’t understand.”
“…Please welcome Melody Rogers!” The entire gymnasium gave a polite clap as I made my way to the podium. I reorganized my notecards, giving them a hard stare. My eyes closed. I slowly submerged from the room and into the collection of my thoughts. This is it. They would be out there. Mom and Dad said the four would be next to them. Breathe.
“So, here we are.” The microphone screeched, and a piecing loud shriek soared through the hall. “S-s-sorry. Let me start over.” I did a quick run-through of my notes, but I realized: this is not what I wanted the speech to go. It was cliché of all of clichés, and I needed to work with something that was much more unique. The cards are set down and I placed my hands over them. A tapping rhythm is formed from my knuckles rapping against the wood board. Breathe.
“I’m not the world’s greatest at making speeches. Yeah, I might have ended up on the team which was in third place overall for the speech competition a while back, but this is different. This time, my words are all uncharted. The speech I am about to give to you has not been rehearsed. I have nothing to guide me. Here we are. I’m about to say a speech. We are all about ready to go end the high school chapters of our lives and go on out into the real world.”
I grabbed the microphone from the podium and began to pace around on the surface, a habit of mine when I got nervous. My eyes were searching among the sea of people, trying to locate my family. “It would be dumb to say that we all might be tomorrow’s future leaders, because that wouldn’t be entirely true. I am sure, however, that there was a person or several people in the community that we have looked up to.
“For me, those people were my older siblings. They never seemed to watch me, but I always watched them. I’m not saying that the four of them were perfect. None of them were. But there they went, accomplishing amazing things. I bet you all had one person you wanted to be just like and if they were in your life, you wanted them to love you and earn their respect: for me, it was them.
“I wish that they would understand that, to me, they were my constant draw of inspiration, the main reason why I try so hard to do my best and do what I do today, which is, by the way, not making speeches, nope, an entirely different job…” The crowd laughed at the remark. I couldn’t help but share their amusement. I finally found my parents in the bleachers, teary-eyed and with a recording camera, with the four seats to the right of them, all reserved, remaining unoccupied.
One of the highest moments of my life was happening, and they are not here.
My eyes filled with tears. I attempted not to let my pain show in my voice. The next words that came out of my mouth were low and serious, cloaking the audience in a brief period of reverence. “I wish they could be here now and just be here to celebrate w-with me.” The initial response was the opposite of my speech joke; the crowds dimmed their voices and listened.
“But now is not the time for sadness. Now is the time to talk about you. Our four years of high school have been eventful, and has had its share of ups and downs. Sure, we may not be world leaders, or discover the cure of cancer, or become the next Picasso or Michelangelo, but with 327 of us in this graduating class, I think it would be safe to say that all of us have the power to inspire the ones in our lives, the people that we touch, just like my brothers and sisters have. And let me tell you, that that can be enough.”
The populous cheered deafeningly as I made my way off the stage and into my seat. Everything became a blur up until the end ceremony.
My parents greeted me with a smile along with the flash of a camera stinging my eyes. “Oh, honey, we’re so proud of you! Your speech was great! Ah, the last of the Rogers family to go and graduate! My babies are all so grown up! I had hoped the rest of our family could have made it, but…” Mom adjusted her eyeglasses. “Well, time for photos! Photos, everyone! Then dinner’s over at our place and it’s on us!”
I hadn’t banded back with my friends after the ending of the ceremony, but Dad somehow managed to find all of them. Amy and Peter greeted me with fist bumps and high fives. Luke, surprisingly, greeted me with a kiss on the cheek, causing everyone to swoon and for Dad to shout, “Hey, no PDA, especially with my kid! You haven’t even gone through the correct courting rights! Teenagers these days…” Monique was the last one to greet me, and she hugged me for the longest time. We all took photos, both posed and silly.
A smile was plastered on my face, but inside, I was heartbroken. I wanted to go out into the restrooms and just cry, easing the pain. My brothers and sisters were not here, as usual. They didn’t watch! I had spent eighteen years trying to get their attention, but even now they had other matters to attend to. Call me selfish, but it seemed to be a thing that ran in the family, ourselves before anyone else. Maybe it was time to give up, like Monique had said. Maybe, if they cannot see how I am, that’s their problem. All of my dreams and fantasies that they would respect me—they all had to disappear. I woke up and was brought into a new light.
For now on, I am done with trying to make them watch.