Meant to Be Episode 1: The Speech

Dum. Dum. Dum.

I wished my heart would’ve picked a different word to thump out, besides it, the only thing in my ears was the buzz of the auditorium lights.They bled molten gold onto me, showcased the scatter formation of sweat that’d popped up on my face. The stream of latecomers coming through the double doors had finally slowed to a light trickle, the last person slid inside, shamefully silenced their phone; the doors slammed shut.

I unclenched my empty fist, wiped the back of my hand across my face but it was hot enough for liquid to immediately reappear; I shook my hand out of frustration, flung my sweat onto the first row.

Dum. Dum. Dum.

A cough forced its way from my throat and I wished words would do the same. A silhouette shifted uncomfortably in its seat, I tried to identify the person but a bead of sweat ran into my eye. I used my dry fist to rub away the discomfort and the piece of paper I’d been holding dropped to the podium. My fingers began to shake; I rubbed my eye again to mask the jitters.

Dum. Dum. Dum.

It wasn’t my first time speaking in front of a crowd but this was special, my high-school graduation; I’d attended the event every summer even though I never knew anyone getting their diploma. My studies weren’t useless, I had an idea of where I could go, but…

I wasn’t funny when I tried.

Reading a two-page metaphor didn’t appeal to me.

And using the platform to bash people who’d soon be reduced to nothing more than Facebook friends seemed more petty than fun.

A sharp cough from somewhere on stage took me from my thoughts; I looked down at the crumpled piece of notebook paper, cursed the white that stared back at me. My preparation had been mainly hypothetical.

The principal had coughed, claimed responsibility by impatiently tapping finger against wristwatch; a mumble of uncertainty flowed at me from the audience.

Dum. Dum. Dum.

“So.” My voice cracked like a phone without a case; people laughed, I exhaled.

“I bet you’re all wondering why I’ve gathered you here today.” More laughter, “But the truth is I don’t know.”

Dum.

            I looked to my paper then up. “This was supposed to be satisfying but I feel like a lab-rat who ended up with the fruits of labor. I wanted cheese.” I sat back down.

Then I blinked and the ceremony was over; I posed for a picture, another, thirty more with people I could’ve swore hated me, another blink; I was alone, legs dangling from the edge of the auditorium stage. Someone sat next to me. “I expected more than conflicting food groups.”

I recognized the voice of my best friend, James. “It wasn’t bad though, was it?” I didn’t want to look him in the eye.

“What would you call something that fails to meet even the lowest of expectations?”

I had to laugh, “I’m already past this man. My mind is on the future. You probably would’ve done better.”

“I smoked way too much to even think about that.”

“I don’t understand. Go to class high, graduation high, probably gonna get high after,” James nodded in confirmation, I sighed, “What’s the point?”

“I do what I do man, any attack you wage on that won’t change the fact that you worked hard for four years to give a speech that you fucked up.”

“The speech isn’t what I worked for.” I said a little too fast.

James punched me in the arm. “I don’t care that you care- I did see that paper you had though, what happened? You didn’t like what you had written down?”

I dug the crumpled remains of my ‘speech’ from my pocket, tossed him the paper ball. “Blank.”

He smoothed out the wrinkles, saw I hadn’t lied, shook his head. “So you didn’t even try.”

“You know I really thought I did.”

“Alright,” James jumped from the stage, clapped his hands together, sent an echo throughout the auditorium. “How ’bout instead of depressed, we get food?”

I stood, smiled. “Cheeseburgers?”

 

End

Episode 2: The Fair

 

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