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The Common Room (The Selection)
As the cotton-candy colored sunset loomed over the garden, the hibiscus flowers surrounding the photo set glistened like gold. The photographer insists that we stay out here just a bit longer since the lighting is perfect. Personally, I dislike these uncomfortable photoshoots, but today I truly believe that my coral colored gown with flowery tulle looks stunning in this newfound lighting. However, I am more than happy to take a break from these four inch heels.
After finishing the photoshoot, I strut towards the common room, keeping cool, calm, and collected. Around me are the other 34 girls competing in the Selection, either reading magazines, doing hair, or whispering softly to one another. The common room was neatly decorated with an elegant fountain in the center. I find a open area on a sofa by the fountain and immediately take off my agonizing stilettos.
I decided not to make conversation to any of the other Selection girls. Even with my poor social skills during my single awkward encounter with Maxon, I’m still seen as a threat to “stealing the throne” from the rest of them. I don’t like the prince in that way, yet all I get here are dirty looks and nasty remarks about how I look, with millions of people from Illéa watching my every move.
I lay there on the couch, reading a magazine and pretending to ignore everyone else around me. All at once the room goes silent, as if you could hear a pin drop. Instantly, I hear nervous footsteps coming my way. But, I decide to ignore it and keep my eyes glued to the magazine.
A few seconds passed and standing in front of me was the person I had the least desire to talk to; Prince Maxon Schreave of Illéa.
Everyone stood there in colored costumes, watching me like I should be the one to start up a conversation. But what could I say? All that’s on my mind are the cackling voices laughing at me and humiliating myself right about now. But If I tell him that, he won’t believe a word. All this anxiety here is getting to me, but I can’t let it show.
With one flick of his wrist, the Prince eagerly starts to dismiss the other Selected. Maxon pulls another chair over to where I sat. He surely wanted to talk to me about something. My fingers start to tremble, my palms start to become clammy and my heartbeat grows louder. BA-BOOM, BA-BOOM, BA-BOOM. Almost as if an army of terra-cotta soldiers were about to attack, marching in unison.
Do I tell him what’s really going on? I thought. No, he wouldn’t understand.
“Good evening America.”
I smiled shyly, “Good evening.”
I look back down at my gossip magazine, rereading the same pages over and over again, hoping it could give me some hints on what to casually say to the Prince of Illéa. No such luck, now I’m stuck here in a dry conversation that I have no idea how to get out of.
Maxon could see that I’m nervous, and I could tell. A worried expression took over his face in a flash once he caught a glimpse of my fingers frantically flipping pages through magazines.
I need to calm myself down, I reminded myself. Maybe if I put my mind to something else..
I couldn’t finish that statement. I was here for my family and their compensation from this, blowing it could mean their future in jeopardy. I was here for them.
I kept my nose in the magazine, distracting myself from everything once again.
“You look..comfortable,” he finally replied. I forgot he was still there.
“Who knew heels could hurt so badly,” I emphasized.
“Clearly I didn’t!” he exclaimed. I burst into the most mature giggle I could muster, and so did he.
Immediately my smile faded; I couldn’t put up this act anymore.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
I stayed silent.
With my head low, I mumbled, “Maxon, am I pretty?”
“You’re beautiful,” he replied in the most sincere, friendliest way possible.
I can’t contain my emotions anymore. A wave of heavy tears washes over me, and it all comes down. Maxon reaches over to pat my stiff shoulder, as I sit here crying like a child complaining to their mother.
“I ju-just, can’t thank you enough for your hospitality, a-and gratitude,” I stuttered. My hands are over my eyes, blinking back loads of tears. It’s as almost if I’ve bottled these emotions up inside me the whole time.
“I love this place so, so, so much, and I’ve never had an experience like this. I know it’s only been 3 weeks into the Selection but it’s been life changing.” I start to rant.
“I love my cozy living quarters, plus the friendly guards and maids are oh so splendid! And, and, and...you can’t forget…” I rambled.
“America, I’m very glad that you enjoy it here.”
I try to put the right words together and tell him what’s really going on, but my crying stops me. The sobs are coming down faster. Maxon, as courteous as always, doesn’t stop me. Taking advantage of that, I bawled for another 20 minutes.
Slowly but surely, I gather the courage up to tell Maxon the real truth. I open my mouth to explain my real emotions, but nothing comes out. I try to speak again and again, and still, nothing.
Maxon, seeing my struggle firsthand, knows that what I was about to say had no intention of sharing anytime soon. Instead, he whispers to me, “Well America, I’ll be here when your ready.”