Chapter 2 to Uncharted Stars.
UNCHARTED STARS- CHAPTER 2
I made my way past the small school entrance into the building. The corridors were crowded as always, with lockers lining most of the walls and students chatting idly around the lockers, waiting for the time for class. They were brightly lit, and that was the way I liked it; although bright rooms did not always fit with my mood, which was usually one of depression, brightly lit rooms did make me feel better sometimes. Sort of. They do help, although there’s only so much light can do when life is so dark.
I made my way down the corridor to the stairs and walked up to the third floor. I then walked into my homeroom, which also happened to be my Humanities teacher’s room; I had Humanities during period 1, meaning that I’d stay where I am after homeroom is over. Mr David was the Humanities teacher and my homeroom teacher, which was nice, because I liked him as a teacher. I find that he’s always pushing me to do stuff that I don’t want, like making speeches, because he doesn’t get that I’m a freaking introvert who doesn’t want to do anything public and that I have no friends and I have no life. He usually spends a lot of time preaching to me in homeroom about how maybe I should socialize more, that I’m a very ‘bright student’ that ‘deserves more fame than this’. Come on. I don’t need fame. I just want a quiet life where no one comes around to bother me.
I sat down as my friends take seats around me. Actually, that label isn’t very accurate; they were ‘classmates’, but hardly my ‘friends’. I talked to very few of them on a regular basis; usually I would only talk to them if I had a group project to do. The only regular friend I had was Will, who ran in at the same moment as the bell rang. He was a popular guy, Will. Everyone was friends with him, but he had mad sure that he and I became close friends because he claims that he needs to ‘break away from it all’ sometimes, as if I was some place where he could escape to. This, of course, implies that I am so much stranger from other people, in the way that I could be used as a vacation place from all the noisiness of life. Interesting.
I waited patiently as Mr David strolled into the classroom. “Hello class”, he said in a pleasant manner as he sat down at his desk. He began taking attendance and when the bell rang, he pulled down the projector screen.
“Are you guys ready for today’s presentations?” he asked with a smile. No, I answered in my mind. No, I am not ready for today’s presentations. I tried to review the qualities of Steve Jobs’s leadership in my head. I could remember a few facts, but without the slideshow, I didn’t really remember the outline of my speech. Not that I’ve rehearsed. I haven’t done any of that. Okay, so Steve Jobs was a visionary, and he was good at motivating people, although he could sometimes be ruthless, he was a great showman…it was all a mess in my mind.
“Does anyone want to go first?” Mr David questioned. It’s funny that teachers always have to ask this before a presentation. Who in the world would want to go first? Accordingly, no one raised their hand, and so he began to choose names out randomly from a hat.
“First person- Jinny.” Jinny stood up from her seat and walked up to the front. Sometimes that’s what I envy in people- their confidence. I could never have it myself,, but then- Jinny has much to be envied about. In fact, I think that if I were a girl, I’d be completely jealous about her. She’s Thai, like me, and she’s got beautiful black hair that wasn’t too short and wasn’t too long. She’s also a really nice person. As I said, there was a lot to be envied about in Jinny.
“Hi everyone.” she started. “The great leader in history that I’m going to be talking about today is Emperor Alexius Comnenus of Byzantium.” She then began her slideshow.
It turns out that Alexius, whom I have never heard about before, because I’m not that much of a history buff (while Jinny is one) was the Emperor of Byzantium during the 11th century who inherited a failing empire and through a lot of clever diplomacy managed to bring it back into a great power. He also did some nice stuff like successfully handle through the First Crusade.
Alexius sounds like a very interesting man, although to be honest I did not focus much on Jinny’s presentation. Instead, I was focusing more on the presenter itself. She just seemed so perfect, standing there presenting. She seemed so calm and confident.
I’m not one who is usually very sure about his own feelings, and Jinny is certainly one of the topics that I’m not sure about. I tend not to think about such things.
Jinny finished off her presentation to a big round of applause. She was bound to get full marks. I held my breath as Mr David picked the next listener- I always wished to be last, to postpone it as long as I could- and then he said “Next up- Pete.”
I walked up, already shaking a bit. I tried to clear my throat, but then I choked on my own spit and began coughing in front of the whole class. It was a great way to start the presentation.
“Alright Pete. Please start.” Mr David nodded at me. I grimaced. This teacher was certainly not one of the fans of my presentations; at least that’s the impression I’m getting from all the scores he had given me this year.
“H…hello…I…I’m Pete…and today, I’m going to…to be talking about…uh…um…Steve…uh, yeah, Steve Jobs.” I spluttered.
“S-teve Jobs was the Chief Executive…um…the Chief Executive Officer of…Apple.” I mumbled, barely audible. I hated being up to present. I absolutely hated it. It was terrifying. “He is known as…a great leader…and a…eh…a visionary.” I said, or rather, try to say.
My horrible presentation went on for another painful eight minutes, although it was supposed to be in four, but because I was such a slow speaker the time span doubled. I could see from the corner of my eye that Mr David was not looking very pleased. When I was done, there were a few claps but the class was mostly silent, Mr David said in an icy tone of voice, “Thank you, Pete.”
I sat through the rest of the presentations in relief at having finished mine. Soon enough, the period ended and I picked up my stuff, ready to walk out, but Mr David gestured to me.
“Stay for a bit longer, Pete.” he called. “I want to talk to you.” I was a bit surprised, because Mr David barely ever calls students in to talk after class is over. I walked to his desk and sat down in front of it, while he showed me the scores. I will not bother writing here what grades he gave me, but it was a failing grade and Mr David frowned as I looked at the scores.
“Pete, this isn’t acceptable.” Mr David said. “This just isn’t. You’re a good student; you’re very bright and hardworking, and I know that. And your written work is great, too. But your oral communication- this has to stop.” I nodded. He went on. “Oral communication is an extremely important part of life, Pete. When you enter the world as an adult, you will need to present. You will need to be able to persuade. And if you gave some possible customers a presentation in the style that you just gave to me- you’re a failure, Pete. You will be.” I nodded again. There was nothing to do other than nod.
“I understand that you have a big fear of public speaking. It’s obvious in the way that you can speak to me in a conversation pretty well, although you’re rather quiet, but when you come up to present- you just can’t say anything. And I also understand why you fear this- it has to do with the death of your mother, and I’m sorry about that.” Once again I nodded, although I was even more surprised because it was very rare that a teacher would mention the incident to me.
“But will you allow the past to control your future forever, Pete? Because of that one accident, you can never reach your full potential?” Mr David stared into my eyes and I looked away. I did not want to say anything.
“I don’t know how to help you, Pete. I just wanted you to know that I’m not happy about this. I’m really not.” He then took out a sticky note, wrote something along the lines of “Please excuse Pete for being late”, gave it to me and sent me away.
Mr David’s comments certainly made me feel so much better about myself.