The fifth chapter of Uncharted Stars! I admit that this novel hasn’t been terribly exciting so far, and I do apologize. Hopefully as we get into the next chapters things will get better, but we’ve at least set the stage for things to come!
I tried to walk as quickly as I could to the Student Council meeting room. The Student Council met in the Humanities room on the fifth floor, I knew, but I’d never attended any meetings before. It seems like I’d be late to my first. I’d wasted quite a bit of time trying to find Will, who was trailing behind me. He was practicing with his band, the Wolves of Midnight’ they’re a great band actually, although it amazes me how quickly they can run out of last period to practice.
“This sucks.” That was Will’s verdict as we strode together. I ignored him. It had taken a hell lot of convincing to make sure Will came with me to my first meeting. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to do, and I certainly didn’t want to be there without at least a close friend (okay, my only friend) with me. I could understand why Will didn’t want to come. The Wolves of Midnight, although having a band at its core, was not only a band. Instead, anyone who was among Will’s close friends or supporters or admirers could call himself a ‘Wolf of Midnight’. This whole group, numbering around twenty, was well known for having a near-total disregard for rules. They certailny didn’t identify with school-sponsored groups like Student Council. Breaking rules was their craft, pranking teachers and people their hobby; anything that classified them as outlaws. On April Fools’ Day, for example, they had sneaked into the teacher’s lounge and switched the sugar for salt. There had been many roars of outrage from the teachers that day. I smiled at the memory, even if I was probably the only of Will’s close friends who did not call himself a Wolf.
I went into the Humanities room, opening the door, and finding five teachers sitting in there. There was Mr David, for one. They all looked at me.
“Oh…” I started.
“Student Council doesn’t meet here, Pete. They meet in the English room.” one of the teachers said coldly. Her name was Ms Mary and she was not among one of my favorite teachers. I quickly thanked her and left.
“Damnit, that was awkward.” I muttered to Will as we walked to the English room. I slowly opened the door this time; I didn’t want to march into another room filled with teachers.(I guess that was pretty out of character, running into a room like that. I’d planned to make a good first impression by at least appearing confident to the Student Council. That failed).
Will grabbed my collar before I could walk in though, and he pulled me back.
“I need to tell you something before this.” Will said.
“Make it quick. We’re already late. I don’t want to make a bad first impression on the people I have to work with for the rest of the year.”
“I know, I know.” Will answered, “but you do realize that when you walk in and they find out that you’re the President this year you’re going to need to address the whole Council. This is where what I’m about to say is important. You can’t show any sign of a lack of confidence. That’s not what they’d expect from a President.”
I gulped. “Yeah, I guess I’ll have to speak. I can’t help if I stumble here and there though.”
“I’m not talking about stumbling here and there. I’m talking about failing completely, like when you were making that Steve Jobs presentation for Mr David. That was crap. I was watching. I didn’t even know what you were saying. You have to speak smoothly. Now go in.” He pushed me to the door and I opened it again. The door slowly opened, I walked in, and found a noisy room where people were just sitting talking to each other.
I wanted to run away, to be honest, and tell Mr Nicholas I didn’t want to do this anymore. Will barged into the room, and I was forced in. The Student Council members were simply sitting there, chatting with each other. I wasn’t sure who was the teacher in control of Student Council actually, but he/she wasn’t there yet. Seems like I wasn’t the only one late.
Jinny was sitting to the far left of a table, right near me. I decided to sit next to her for a time, but when I did she immediately asked the very hospitable question of “Why are you here? Are you in Student Council?” She asked in Thai, at least, because she knew I was Thai, although we’d barely spoken for more than three times.
“Mr Nicholas chose me for Student Council President.” I answered. Her eyes widened then and she looked very surprised. It seemed like she wanted to ask “YOU OF ALL PEOPLE HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET THIS SPOT” or something, but she didn’t say that. She did stare for quite a bit of time, and I noticed how her eye was so unusually brown and bright. I tried to ease away the awkwardness. “What?” I said, smiling a bit. Finally she chuckled.
“I wouldn’t have expected you to accept.” she said. I nodded.
“I don’t know why I did, either.” She smiled at that and told me that Mr Nicholas was actually in charge of supervising Student Council himself, but he barely ever attended the meetings. Usually the President would be in charge of running the meetings, but since there was no President, they had simply sat down and talked idly during the first two meetings they had had this year (Mr Nicholas did not care). This was simply their third.
I gulped. “So it’s my job to come up and speak? What do I even do?”
Jinny replied, “If you’re actually the new President, then you’ll need to introduce yourself. But wait- how are you President? You weren’t elected.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, really. Mr Nicholas said they had no candidates so they had to choose someone. They chose me and I don’t know why, either. But I guess I’m here now. So I go up and speak?” Jinny nodded. I sighed. I did not like speaking. I reluctantly stood up and walked to the front. People who were talking all around began to stop as they noticed I was about to speak. I waited for the room to become silent and I felt my heart thumping faster in my chest. I struggled to find calm as I started to speak.
“Hello…Student Council.” I forced a smile on my face. I could bet no more than 5 or 6 people in the room even knew my name. “I’m Pete… and I’m in Grade 10. Due to a lack of candidates… I have been chosen to be Student Council President for this year.” It was taking the effort of my life to address the room without the unnecessary pauses or just breaking down completely. What I did realize after I finished the third sentence was I had nothing to say next. I didn’t even know how this whole thing was ran. I looked at Will for inspiration, but he just sat there looking very bored. Damn you, Will. I decided to just lay down my cards and speak.
“I’m going to be honest here. I…have…no experience, and I don’t know how this is run. I’m going to be needing your help.” I said. I relaxed a lot more after I said that; finally I made sure that they would not be setting high expectations on me.
“I’m…uh…assuming that…actually let’s not assume anything. I don’t know what to assume.” I chuckled and that made the room relax down a bit too, laughing back. “I need help here, people. How in the world do I run Student Council?” No one answered quite yet. Not surprisingly, really; I was still an unknown quantity to the Council. The only person who really knew me there was Will. I decided t otake that time to have a look around the room. There were familiar faces, of course, because really it’s pretty much the same people who sign up for Student Council over and over and over and over again. I noted out Jason sitting in a corner. Jason’s a pretty popular guy, similar to Will; except that Will was more popular and Jason’s got a reputation for fierce jealousy, not allowing anyone to stand in his path. He’s also got an ego the size of Mars, at least according to the popular image of him. But he was actually very talented and well-rounded, so there’s that. At the opposite end of the room was Jinny, of course. I sighed. Getting to know the Council is probably going to be the hardest task of all.
“I guess I’ll be coming around to talk to a couple of you…soon.” I walked back to my seat next to Jinny immediately after that; if I had to stay on to speak for a bit more I’d probably die of exhaustion. Jinny glanced at me as I came down to sit while the rest of the room resumed their chattering.
“So how do I make sense of all this?” I asked Jinny.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Pete?” Jinny said. “I’m not forcing you to step down or anything, but you really don’t have any experience.”
“I know, I know.” I didn’t want to mention my aunt that much, but I couldn’t really come up with any other reason I was here. “But I guess I’ll learn. So what do we do? That’s really the biggest question.”
“Usually the President would be emailed with list of things to do if Mr Nicholas has stuff he wants us to do.” Jinny said. “Traditionally at the beginning of every year it’s always the Sports Day that’s about three weeks from now. The idea is that the Student Council would learn to work together and the President could see how to exercise power and plan an event that’s already pretty familiar.”
Doesn’t sound bad. I nodded. “Alright, then. I’d need to know more about Student Council. Would you mind emailing me tonight with a list of the people in Student Council right now and maybe a few roles of the President?”
“Of course.” Jinny said. I thanked her and then walked to Will.
“How did I do?”
“Much better than that Steve Jobs presentation.” Will said, clapping. “Seems like you’re trying to get yourself a girl, huh?”
I felt like I was smacked in the face. “What?”
“You could’ve asked her to tell you right now. No need for emails. Planning to chat, aren’t you.” Will smiled at me in the most annoying manner possible. Not that there’s many different ways to smile, but Will can make a smile look annoying. That’s how he’s like. I just ignored what he said. I didn’t bother investigating my feelings that deeply. I didn’t care to.
“Seriously though. I’m not sure why I’m here.” I said quietly. “I’m not sure if I want to do this.”
“You don’t need to be sure about everything you do in life, Pete. Life is uncertainty.”
I had to smile at that.
“You just sound like a philosopher sometimes.”
“Maybe I am one. You should join my Wolves and see the outlaw side of me. You’ll see any veil of philosopher-ishness stripped away.”
“If I openly join your Wolves I’ll probably be fired from Student Council.” I replied warily.
“Then that means you care. You care about your new position.”
I couldn’t find the words to argue.