You and I
Author's note: Dedication J., I see your eyes everywhere I go, a pair of startling stars blinking... Show full author's note »
Taking ChancesMy palms were slippery with sweat, and not because of the humidity. In fact, it was cool inside the heavily air-conditioned building. Still, I feebly rubbed my palms over my baby blue sweats. Heart racing, blood rushing fervently and hair plastered against my forehead, I took a swift glance around the room, my eyes locking onto one of three closed doors to my right. I could feel my stomach twisting into unruly knots, my fists clenching and unclenching. Yet I urged my eyes to focus on the array of papers tacked to the bulletin board directly across the room. I forced my ears to get lost in the repetitive rhythm of fingers tapping computer keys at the desks just a few breaths away.
I could do this. I was over-reacting, morphing a miniscule issue into a raging elephant. It was what I did.
“Casey?” a husky feminine voice suddenly called, stepping out into the waiting area. My head snapped up, and I felt as though a cool breath had just brushed against my neck, leaving small tufts of dark blond hair on end. This was it—my first interview ever. Yeah, big deal, I know, right? Only it was. “Casey?” the middle-aged woman yelled out once more, her voice sharpening.
“Here!” I said, jutting forward to follow a short woman with salt-pepper hair and ocean blue eyes. Grabbing a hold of myself, I managed to trail behind her, my hands clammy and suddenly freezing cold. Stepping into a small room, I was faced with another woman, only she was young–mid-twenties–with thin blond hair, which was tied back in a loose ponytail. Her frame was small and delicate, and she has brown eyes, round and large like a child’s. She put out her hand, a welcoming gesture.
“Hello, Casey. I’m Mrs. Maureen and this is Mrs. White. We’re in charge of next year’s Peer Support program. Please, take a seat.” I sat down calmly, my past fears dissipating at the sight of Mrs. Maureen’s kind nature and soft melodic voice. “Now, why do you feel that you have the potential to be a good role model for the future grade nines?”
Wetting my lips, I swallowed hard and said, “I remember how lost I felt entering high school. When I was in grade nine, I found that I could look up to my peer coaches, and I always wanted to be able to do the same someday. The most important attribute of a good Peer Supporter is ensuring that the students feel safe, happy, and welcome at their new school. I believe that I’m patient, understanding, and easy to approach. I want to make a difference in our school, and provide both knowledge and friendship to the students.” Internally, I felt a rush of relief–so far so good, I thought to myself. Blood rushed to my fingertips, and suddenly I was warm and confident. I felt good, if only fleetingly.
I answered the next few questions with ease, words spilling out of my mouth as if it were as simple as breathing. Feeling absolutely content and self-satisfied, I leaned back with my heart slowing into a normal rhythm. Just a few more questions and you’re in.
“Do you know what shirt size you are?” Mrs. White asked with a pencil in hand. “They’re so the students can spot you in a crowd,” she explained. Of course, I already knew this, having watched and envied previous selected Peer Supporters. Being chosen meant moving up the ladder in the social hierarchy. It meant being watched, admired, and accepted. I felt almost drowsy at the thought. Junior year was so going to change my life.
Snapping out of my reverie, I answered, “Medium.”
Then there was the next question: “So, would you be interested in being chosen to represent the CLP class?” Mrs. Maureen locked her eyes hard on mine. What? I had no idea how to respond to the inquiry – had it been mentioned in the pamphlet? My mind frantically puzzled over the question, thoughts racing. Oh, God. Would I lose my chance if I were to mess up this one answer? My heart began to pound, blood sounding loud in my ears.
“I beg your pardon?” I asked, my mind struggling for control over my tongue.
“It’s called the Community Living Program. It represents students here at Mayfield that have disabilities or need extra attention . . . Are you interested?” Mrs. Maureen’s eyes remained fixed intently on mine, almost demanding that I say anything except the contrary.
“Yes, I have some experience. In public school, I used to help a girl with a disability.” Mrs. White smiled full on, her pencil pressed to a notebook.
“Are you sure?” Mrs. Maureen asked softly. You can’t back out now Case; you might lose any chance you have of being accepted. Just because they’re asking you about this program doesn’t mean they won’t take you on for the one you really want.
“Yes, definitely,” I blurted out.
“Wonderful! You will receive a letter in your homeroom in a few days, once we’ve made the selections. Thanks for your time, Casey,” Mrs. Maureen said warmly, standing up to shake my hand once more.
“No problem,” I smiled, and walked out of the room.
No problem at all.