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Countdown to Qualify

The arena was filled with flashing lights, deafening music, and not to mention hundreds of cheering Future Business Leaders of America. The anticipation began in my stomach, performing somersaults, and then traveled upstream. Trying to be humble and accept defeat was difficult. Selfishness was my main emotion; I wanted to win.

The closing ceremony began with a bang consisting of music videos chosen by the audience and the annoyingly cheerful voice of the spokesperson. All of the entertainment was took some thought and worries from the winning results. Yet most of the student had the same gut wrenching feeling of what was to happen. Everyone else was present by coincidence and could care less what the outcome of all of this would be. All I was doing was planning how to cope with leaving Vail and hand over ten dollars to my friend Richard for not qualifying.

Suddenly, the multiple screens changed simultaneously to countdown the last remaining seconds for the beginning of the end. Every positive face yelled along with the narrator until the building echoed with hundreds of voices harmonizing like a modernized version of an angelic choir; robotic and tuneless. The Awards of Excellence began at last.

After the many overly dramatic screams of winners, my event was finally announced over the intercom and reverberated against my eardrums. Everything stopped, even my heart. This was the moment. I held my breath as the announcer called the names of the top 10 contestants; my name was not called first, not second, but ninth. I knew of course that the names were called randomly, but I figured there had to be some kind of system. When I was called, the crowd to my right exploded in cheers and applause.

As I walked past the sea of bodies nothing affected me accept doubtfulness. My only goal was to make it to my destination. Arriving at the side of the stage, a women forced the qualifiers into a single filed line, shoved medals into are hands, and ordered us to put them on. The finishing contestant of the former event exited the stage. All was dark. Only our silhouettes were seen by the audience, but not until the blinding stage lights turned on.

I felt the heat of the lights. An oven had turned on and my damp clothes were shrinking. My belt felt tighter than ever, and the awkward sense of everyone watching me was overwhelming. The thick air was stained with molding clothes, wet floors, and sweat. My tongue was dry and the flavor of mouthwash settled in my throat. This uncomfortable state I was in made me sure everything was going to go wrong.

I predicted that my name would’ve been called first, then second, then third, and as fifth place rolled by, my effort to smile became stronger. I could feel my grin growing as third place was called and I saw out of the corner of my eye the camera looking right at me. Even though my face was projected on massive screens in front of hundreds of people, I didn’t care. I had placed second in FBLA principal and procedures. Excitement overcame me as I walked a little too quickly to one of the FBLA Colorado officers. Shaking hands and accepting my plaque was a brief instant. To my surprise, the unimaginable had happened. The first thing I remember saying after almost tripping off stage was the answer to a well-known question.

“Where are you going now Brandton?” My adviser asked.

Without much thought, I said the first thing that came to mind with a smirk. “I’m going to Disneyworld.”





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