The Island of Fear

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As I adjust my body to a slouched position, I instinctively take my pencil. I twirl it for what seems to be days. My eyes continuously dart across the room. I focus my attention on a shining motivational poster. The lack of relation between the words and the picture bewilders me. After reading the poster over and over, I lose interest. I impatiently gaze at another poster. This poster explains several lessons on grammar. After staring at the poster, I look deep into the words. I then attempt to closely examine the letters contained in these words. Looking at each individual letter brings pain to my eyes; I lose interest again. I remove my foot from my warm knee and lightly click the sole of my shoe onto the tiled floor. The click sounds like a thud to me. My eyes wander towards my peers. None of them even noticed the sound. They all fixate on her. My patience and anxiety tell me not to focus on this one. I know I have to pay attention: I take one good look at her.

She twists her curly black hair as she leans back and forth. She stares blankly into her papers clenched in her right hand. She occasionally peeks toward the back of the room suspiciously. I awkwardly turn to see nothing of interest. Focusing remains difficult. Nothing seems interesting about her performance. Suddenly, she looks away from her paper and scans her face across the room. After looking timidly at the class, she continues her speech. Her scan provided the only eye contact she makes.

The sound of a rattling shatter startles me. The pencil that was twirling in my hand for so long falls right out of my hand. There is no time to stop it from rolling to the edge of my desk. It plummets to the floor. In my attempt to retrieve it I slide my foot over it. Pulling my foot back causes an annoying grinding sound. The pulling of my foot also shoots it behind my desk. At this point, trying not to attract any attention proves difficult. I slowly reach back, straining several muscles just to do so. As my fingertips begin to snatch the eraser, a soft hand takes it. My eyes dart to see a classmate with a somewhat disappointed and yet somewhat genuine face. As she hands me the pencil, I quietly thank her.

My back stiffens when I start to hear applause. I join them out of habit. The under-confident girl skips back to her seat, relieved. After sitting in suspense for a second, another student finds his way to the front of the room. This center stage area brings an intimidating aurora to its portion of the room. A puny gray carpet sits alone as the only carpeting in the room. Standing on the isolated island with a sea of white tiles strikes fear into anyone near it. The carpet mesmerizes me when, suddenly, I am forced to move my attention to the speaker. His voice booms with unexpected enthusiasm. With my eyes locked onto him I am able to focus on this performance. His hand is undulating violently with his expressions. His body moves accordingly. His words sound like one giant shout they are still clear and articulated. I barely notice that my jaw actually drops at his confidence. I cannot believe his abilities allow him to perform like this. From the flying hands to the tightened face, he has it all. He doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of stage fright. How can this be?

As his performance drags on, I lose interest as usual. I stare at the clock on the wall; my neck strains to lean into its view. The longer I stare, the more it mocks me. Still having an hour left of class; I know I will get my turn. I once again slouch back into my cold hard seat. My clammy hands grab a hold of my papers. I look into the papers intently. I focus on a paragraph—a sentence—a word—a letter. My mind slips into a state of unparalleled confusion. I try to understand what I wrote just days ago. Feeling as though the Rosetta stone is the only thing that can help me, does not improve the situation.
Bewildered by this chicken scratch, I am forced to peer back at the confident student. I notice his excitement is slowing down. His words slowly decrease. My heart rate is in great contrast to his words. Its hammering against my chest tells me that I could be next. I stare at the instructor who is roars with excitement and applause vigorously. She is clapping. I don’t even notice the applause and ignore them. Still staring, my eyes move to her hand. It idly spins around in a coffee mug filled with slick laminated strips of paper. With each one containing a name, I know this could be it. I clench my fists and stiffen my legs as I utter the innocent words “not me” to myself. She announces another students name and my blood moves to a simmer. The pounding decreases and I try to relax. I un-tighten my sweaty hands and subconsciously grab my pencil and begin twirling it again. The student ambulates to the carpet island. Leering at the teacher transiently finally grants her approval to begin.
Both of her hands have her long fingers groping and rippling her papers. She stands almost completely still. Her blonde hair blankets most of her face. Her pale blue eyes fixate intensely on her papers. She utters whispers so quietly that her speech is inaudible. The monotone rambling sets the tone of the room into a lethargic state. The occasional yawn proves this point. I can’t help but do the same. Maybe it is contagious after all. The small voice loses my interest quickly.
My thumbs rotate around each other at super sonic speeds. The clock is so far away; it makes me hope that maybe my performance will be the same. If the anxiety will just end, the pain would expel. The taunting hands of this evil clock refuse to quicken no matter how long I stare deep into them. I can’t bare it. It hangs up there simply to humiliate me. I look down to my desk for reassurance only to find my disappointing hieroglyphics. I gaze into the paper for what seems like years when I suddenly feel prompted to scrawl. Eager, I seize my pencil and lunge myself forward to my writing. As my thoughts of editing increase, a strange phenomenon occurs. I suddenly lose sight of what to write. Baffled by this, I try to read my script again. I wonder how I will perform this. The page appears to be blank. My eyes glaze over. A sudden realization comes into effect once again: I could be next. Through my frustration, I don’t even hear the applause. I rapidly mark down lines and dashes that I believe will help me. An echo shatters my thoughts. The echo of my name reverberating through my skull and rattling my brain makes all time stop.
The simmering of my blood rapidly moves to a boil. My heart feels like a wild animal that needs to escape its cage. I drop my pencil and don’t even notice it fall to the floor. I slowly curve my body sideways to escape my desk. I feel like someone is trying to be quite while opening a door. Opening silently sideways, I almost forget my papers. I slam my dank hands onto the desk and slide my papers off. The moisture absorbs into the papers. I strike the papers close to my chest. I can feel my heart pressing them. As I elevate my body upward, I stiffly and reluctantly trudge to the carpet island. With both my hands supporting my papers I am reluctant to adjust my glasses. A bead of sweat slithers from my forehead into a cascading waterfall onto my shoulder. My knees begin to violently shake. I reach the front of the room but do not face my peers. I attempt to turn around. Again, like a creaking door, I peer around. The sounds of my sneakers scrapping the carpet are the only sounds heard. Dead silence.
I look coldly into my classmates. All of them slouched as I was. All of their terrifying eyes fix on me. My tongue slides out to soften my cracked lips. I look down to my papers in a very unsure manner. My face combusts into flames. My eyes follow suit. The heat is unbearable. The warm beads of sweats drip from every corner. I excessively blink to cool my eyes down. From the excessive blinks, I accomplish the watering of my eyeballs. I suck in as much air as possible. The first word of my speech I utter so slowly and softly. My uttered murmur is cut short by the greatest sound in the world: the bell. I spring out of the classroom without gathering any of my belongings. Sprinting down the hallway, I am so relieved of my forgetfulness. It’s early release day.





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