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Public Speaking This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Why have I been chosen to carry this burden?
Why do you only appear when it matters the most?
Does anyone else have to deal with this stress?
Everything is quiet.
Sole attention is directed my way.
People sit with open ears
waiting …
waiting …
waiting …
My brain knows I should already have read
my opening sentence
However right as I open my mouth you descend
upon me
like a blanket of anxiety that constricts my throat.
I can read the crowd's internal jeer as it plays out
across their faces
Their poignant thoughts thrown my way.
They begin to get restless.
Shifting.
Shuffling.
Sighing.
Now the blanket becomes thicker, tighter.
Sweat slowly covers my forehead and palms.
I can feel my face burn starting at my nose and
spreading outward
like a brushfire, not heeding to attempts of
extinguishing it.
I know the feeling all too well
I open my mouth feeling the lump in my throat.
I try to swallow but it seems to rise.
Finally I am about to speak but the blanket coils
around me
like a sly snake squeezing the life out of its
helpless victim.
What comes out is a raspy squeak
but I push through
Throat tight,
Palms damp,
Face burning,
The meaning of my words lost.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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