It was just like any other day when I woke and stared at the ceiling, groaning at the sound of the alarm clock. I ran through the timetable in my head, eyes still half-closed and shuffled towards the bathroom, trying my best to pull through my rat’s nest of hair. I choked on the mouthwash as usual, pulled on my uniform and yanked the brush through my hair to pull it into my usual ponytail. But all of a sudden there was a sudden epiphany in the midst of the muddled thoughts flying through my brain in the morning; it was St Cuthbert’s Day, the Big Day (not in the wedding way, of course). The day when I get my badge.
The choir rehearsal passed like a blur, so did all the lessons before the service. All the students from Year 1 with their colorful aprons and the Year 8s who seemed all of a sudden so much taller, piled in during the last-minute practice with Song Squad and Miss Cornish. Soon, an excited silence and a sea of green occupied the Clouston Hall. I glanced up at the choir, the words go back to choir repeating in an annoying mantra in my head. And then the organ started playing. I tensed up and stared straight ahead, trying to ignore the beads of sweat dripping down the back of my neck from the heat in the Hall.
This is it. The Big One. The One that we’ve all been waiting for. I tried to shuffle inconspicuously on the steps by the stage, conscious of all the stares from the teachers, parents and the other students. I could feel their stares drilling holes in my side as I gulped (very inaudibly) as my name was called. I clapped politely for all the House Captains and Students Leaders that went in front of me, but it was my turn now. “House Captain of Durham, Helen Cai.” Without my brain even processing the fact, my feet started to carry me up the stairs. Don’t trip over. Don’t trip over. Please don’t trip over. It’s going to be fine. You’ve done it before, walked across this stage a million times. Butterflies batted their wings enthusiastically in my stomach. Stop that! I scolded at all the butterflies and half of them stopped, fluttering to rest at the bottom of my stomach. Much better.
My hands felt cold, despite the almost overwhelming heat in the Hall. Victory was just up ahead in… five steps. Four… three… two… I almost stumbled, but managed to disguise it as an overenthusiastic step forwards. Ugh! Get a grip, Helen! Why does your clumsiness have to act up today, out of all days? I could feel heat rushing through my cheeks. I was lucky I don’t have the type of skin that blushes easily, otherwise, I would have been a bumbling beetroot for the service. After firmly shaking the Guest Speaker’s hand, I took the badge and rushed down the stage and into my choir row. Oh well, at least that was over and done with.
Written by Helen Cai, 8VUJ