Stage Fright



The moment she’d dreaded had come, much perfected notes clasped in sticky palms, stomach churning she stepped onto the platform. Before her stood the microphone, focusing on it she approached, postponing the moment when she’d have to turn to the sea of faces she knew were watching her every move. Panic in her heart said run, but she couldn’t run, if she didn’t deliver the speech who would?
She remembered the sea of forgotten faces, eyes that looked at her in hope. She couldn’t do this alone, she needed help and to get it she must overcome her fears, her inner nature.
“Do it for them! Do it for them dam you!”
Placing her notes on the podium she looked up holding back the urge to vomit. Her knees faltered, her voice wouldn’t come, she stood mesmerized. The audience, already bored with morning speeches, looked on at her cynically as she stumbled through her greeting.
“Ladies and gentlemen…” her voice echoed out in the stillness alarming in its amplified pitch. She faltered. Someone in the front row sniggered, glances were exchanged.
From somewhere inside a surge of emotion engulfed her. The carefully worded notes cast aside she blurted out.
“They’ll die, the children will die without hope, without love. Damn it you’ve got to help me!” Tears burst forth like a flood but she couldn’t stop. Words tumbled out from the depths of her soul surging in unstoppable flows as she blurted out the situation, the need. The audience sat in shocked amazement their blasé exteriors shattered.
She paused, stunned at her out burst. Horrified at what she’d done, mumbling apologies, she stumbled off the platform in abject embarrassment. She’d wrecked everything. Why hadn’t she kept to the script, the safe, carefully worded script?
A shape loomed in her way.
“Just a minute young lady,” a voice boomed out, “you’re not finished yet.”
An arm swung around her shoulders forcing her back towards the mike. She could do nothing. Head down, face wet with tears she stood in total humiliation, but the voice boomed on.
“Now ladies and gentlemen, you heard what she said. Who’s willing to pledge! Raise your hands!” Her eyes flickered not daring to look. Other voices called out.
“I will!”
“Count me in on that!” a torrent of echoes added to the chorus.
Glancing up her eyes once more overflowed, instead of a sea of disdainful faces a sea of eager arms were waving.