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What is it like to have everything going for you? To know the path to your future? I wonder if things would be different if I lived someone else’s life. What would be like? Would I live in a large house, have expensive new clothing, maybe even the man of my dreams? …The land of what ifs, my father use to tell me to stay clear of it, he told me “Once you enter the lands of the what ifs you never will be able to enjoy what you have already been given.” But that was when my pa was alive. My pa is dead. My ma will be too soon, she won’t hear of it but it isn’t to hard to see that life has worn her down. “Won’t be too long now” the doctor always say when he checks up on us.
Sun glaring down, warming bronzed shoulders, the alone sound of crunching gravel by a pair of worn down sneakers, soon joined by two more on either sides of the first. Bea walked down the street with her two friends, C’jay and Alice, scuffed and dirtied bags slung over their shoulders.
“Heading to school girls?” Called Mrs. Morris
“Yes maim” we answered back.
“Y’all be good now ya hear?” we nodded our heads like little girls promising not to tell a secret.
Cool air wafted over me as I walked through the door to the cafeteria, a relief from the scorching heat of the non air-conditioned classrooms. The noise of laughter, chat, and frustration reverberated through the crammed room. I lined up for my food as the line moved forward green mush of Brussels sprout soup was squashed onto my tray along with cold day old mash potatoes, I mustered up my best smile for the overly exhausted cook. Knowing with the death of her newborn that she probably didn’t have very much keeping her going, my heart went out to her for being so strong. I made my way through the bustle of others to my table, it was missing a leg but it was just fine for us, our school didn’t have much money, well to tell the truth it was flat dead broke, but we all managed just well with it since we all had coped with not having much our whole lives.
A blaring whistle echoed throughout the room, students jolted in surprise or swiftly covered their ears before turning to the entrance of the cafeteria where Mrs. Arnolds, the principle was rooted. She cleared her throat before speaking “Thank you for your attention, I would love to present you with a great opportunity, our school will be joined with a group of other schools for a contest. A talent contest, the winner will win a full scholarship to the learning arts school, St. Linlords. You will be able to sign up tomorrow morning during homeroom.” As Mrs. Arnolds’ final words were spoken the room roared with talk. My friends started in jabbing at the stupid idea of a contest.
Alice started at me “Hey Bea, she think were stupid or sometin? Like they would let our poor school ever win a contest against the rich and preppy. Ha!” but I didn’t pay attention… I was remembering when I was young my father had told me I would become something great, he had told me that it was in my heart. So when I was little I told my father I wanted to perform in ballet. He had immediately taken all of his saved up money and put me in the best ballet classes he could find for the little he had. I was there again. I held tight to the worn wooden bar, feeling proud in my pink leotard I was determined to do my very best. The wood underneath creaked and groaned as the line of girls went down in plea, the sun gleaming in lines where it could emerge from the dust veiling the windows. I had taken lessons for 7years. Sometimes I still catch myself in my room dancing without realizing what I am doing. When my father died there was no way to pay for the lessons, though my teacher was aggravated to see the most promising student in the class go she had no way of being able to allow me there for free, so she had to bite her tongue as I had to take walk. I shook my head to clear the memory out of my head.
“I’m going to join” I announced.
“huh?” my friends looked at me.
“The contest, I’m going to enter it”
“Are you an idiot? It’s just a waist of time and hope Bea, just forget it” I shook my head they just wouldn’t understand. I sighed. Picked myself up and drudged to my next class. And the next morning I did sign the entry form, blushing as people watched.
It was time,
“Beatrice Alloways, age 15, Sun Brook High School. Performing in the art of ballet” I heard my friends laugh. I knew they didn’t approve, but my mom was in the audience and I wanted her to know that when she left, I would be ready to make it on my own.
I walked on stage feeling every step. Feeling like I was walking toward the end of a plank with sharks circling underneath. My feet in first position I stood upon the middle of the stage, a stampede of elephants in my stomach, then I saw my mothers face her eyes filled with proud crystal pools and I heard the clear calming and comforting words of my father. His voice the one I’ve tried to remember so long, I could always remember his words but never the way they had sounded when he had spoke and now this was it, I heard it all, everything was clear. I was fulfilling, finally, what we had worked so hard together to get too. “A chance to become something great.” My heart filled so full it felt about to burst, radiant happiness, so much of it I didn’t know what to do. Then, the music started and I performed, harder than I ever had before. I felt constant energy making every move sharp and bold; when the song ended I wasn’t ready for it to be over, though breathing rapidly.
Sitting down, I squirmed, first chipping paint off my fingernails then pulling at my sweatshirt until finally the performances were over. My eyes strained trying to bid the announcer to just announce the results. I folded my hands then refolded them; I fixed my skit, bit my lip, and folded my hands again, all the while my foot tapping with anxiety of wanting the knowledge of the results.
Finally… “And the winner of this extremely close contest-“ just get on with it! “Bea Alloway” My heart leaped at the beckoning of my name. I galloped practically flew up the stairs to the stage, to where the announcer stood. “Do you have anything to say?” he asked tilting the microphone toward me.
I nodded and spoke to the heavens, my head lifted toward the ceiling “We did it pa!” Then I let go, tears, everything finally coming out, letting all my guard down. My ma was then by my side hugging me tight crying with me. I turned to her slightly pulling away and I say “I’m ready ma.” I knew she would know what I meant. Then my friends were there tackling me, they understood now.
My ma had died that night in her sleep. And now I work as hard as ever at St. Linlord’s. And even though I still don’t have none of those fancy new clothing, or that perfect man yet. I know what its like to know the path into the future and what its like to live someone else’s life for this feels as if I'm living a life in a story book not quite like my life at all. My life lesson? Well only one thing I can say, stay clear of the land of what ifs.