When things begin to go mad…oh and check out this post on my Tumblr for some of my thoughts on Uncharted Stars so far.
“So much to do, in so little time.” I muttered to myself. I was panting by now. Sleep is good, but not when it takes over you, grips you hard and won’t let you go. My alarm clock is really no use.
I speeded through the school gates and ran through the building, zig-zagged through people who were smart enough to think standing and chatting idly in the hallway is a good way to spend their precious lifetime, jumping over school bags lying on the floor, and ducking underneath the coffee mugs held by two teachers holding a lovely early conversation. I found my locker, dumped my bag in it, promptly locked it as quickly as possible, and then raced down the steps to the football field.
I’d arrived late for Sports Day preparations.
Way to make a good first impression.
The field had about nine Student Council members, all dragging cones to places and putting up signs. One was even painting the grass. Most of them hadn’t noticed my arrival, too immersed in their work and simply kept working on. I was fine with no one noticing me. I didn’t want them all to rush to me at the same time, because I didn’t want to be crushed under a tsunami of questions and complaints about Sports Day.
But instead of a tide of complaints and questions, I got a wave. Admittedly, it was a big wave, and an important one. Jinny strode to me. I waved my hand in her direction, but she didn’t gesture anything back.
“You’re late.” She said without greeting. “I got the people laying out the field, and we’re nearly done. But where do I put capture the flag?”
“Capture the flag?” I repeated. “What capture the flag?”
“Capture the flag. You know, the game where you’re put in two teams and the objective is to…”
“No, I know what capture the flag is. What I didn’t know was we were having the game as part of Sports Day.”
“Yes, we were going to have the game as part of Sports Day. You said yourself that…”
I shook my head. “Short term memory. Sorry. But wait for a second, didn’t we have like three other field sports already? Do we have space for capture the flag? Do we even need…”
“No, we only have two.” she interjected.
I sighed. “Guess what? Control is yours.” Please, I thought to myself, I really can’t be bothered with all this.
Jinny looked a bit perplexed. Did I look like such an activities guy? “Alright, then, I’ll do what I want, and you don’t have to do anything. Deal?”
“Deal.” Jinny walked away but I then caught sight of more people walking towards me. Oh dear lord.
“Pete, Jason put us in charge of doing the polo teams, but it happens that Red doesn’t have enough…”
Another guy walked up to me. “Pete! Not enough cones!’
From my back, I was prodded. “Hey, Pete, do you want the drinks to be put near the basketball court…”
Oh god, I thought to myself. This is a nightmare.
* * * * *
It did turn out to be a nightmare. I simply told everyone to go and ask Jinny. I guess you could say that I don’t react well under pressure. Well, who ever said I was meant for leadership?
These were the thoughts I was having as I walked from homeroom back to to the Sports field. I never even asked to become President.
I didn’t even want this position. Perhaps I should’ve denied the spot.
But I remembered my mom’s last speech.
No, I couldn’t have denied it.
But this job was killing me. I used to be an ordinary student, albeit a quiet one with no friends but exceptionally good grades. I didn’t like talking, I didn’t like leading, I didn’t like this sort of public role.
I sighed. There was no backing out.
At least I wasn’t going to be making the speech. Jinny will be the one introducing the school tho this year’s (horribly planned) Sports Day. The school gathered around on the field in four groups, according to the Sports Day colors. The clouds were blocking out most of the sun, which was good because that meant the temperature was nice and cool and whenever the weather is good, people’s moods tend to be quite good too. (I will never forget the unfortunate people who had to deal with a rainy Sports Day with muddy ground all over).
Jinny stepped to the front of the gathered crowd with a microphone, her long brown hair flickering in the gentle breeze. “Hi everyone!” she said pleasantly, and the chattering students grew quiet. Attention was complete.
“We’re going to be starting Sports Day! Today’s the day where we finally get a day off class for fun activities. It feels great not to be doing work for once!” she said, then smiled.
Damn. She was so natural.
“I’ll begin by going over today briefly. During the morning, we have…”
I tried to focus myself on listening to Jinny, but I just kept finding myself being distracted. There’s a concept in Buddhism and it’s about being truly present in your life and concentrating on exactly that- the present. Isn’t there that quote, something about how there’s a reason the present is called the ‘present’? Well, I wasn’t using that present very well, even if the metaphorical gift was getting to see Jinny give a speech.
Instead, my mind kept wondering off to various things. Did enough people bring their swimming gear? Will all the events run correctly? Was the field set up correctly? My mind went over a hundred details I should have made sure of before. I sighed. It was already too late.
The clouds began to slide away, revealing orange shades of sunlight that began attacking the crowd with sudden ferocity. Sweat began to drop off my hair.
“…and, to start off the day, we will do some whole school aerobics with Mr Fred!”
The school gave a universal groan.
I ran through the field in my desperation to reach the enemy flag, but out of nowhere a ninth grader ran straight into me. We fell to the ground together, the ninth grader managing to still say ‘tagged!’ I swore. I will never understand how the desire to tag someone can be greater than the pain being sent through your body while sprawling on the ground. I stood up painfully, pushed away the sand and grass sticking all over my pants and shirt, and walked to the jail section without a word more.
I wasn’t in a good mood, alright. First, the Council member I’d put in charge of sorting out who’s playing what messed up big time, and that’s caused quite a lot of confusion.
Then, after playing a few games of badminton as my fill for court sports, which admittedly I fail at but fail the least among the court sports, I’d been put for Capture the Flag because there weren’t enough people playing it. Boy, do I suck. A kindergarten student would’ve made a better player.
“I give up.” I muttered to myself. “It’s freaking hot and I’m freaking tired.”
As I muttered that to myself, I saw Jason walking over to me. “Hey Pete, Watcha doin’ in that jail? We’ve got an announcement to make.”
“Well, here’s the thing. I sent my people to check.” I assumed ‘my people’ meant his gang. “Not enough people brought their swimming gear. Only like a quarter of the people needed to play did. We don’t have enough people.”
“Uh, okay.” I replied irritably. God bless, give me a break.
“Well, we’ve got to do something else. I went to talk to Chip-” I doubted that because I’d never seen Jason talk to Chip -”and we decided that as Plan B, we’ll use his super-race idea.”
“Okay.” I said. “Let’s announce this to the school. Lunch will begin soon. Gather everyone in the canteen and announce this.”
“You do it.” Jason said.
I was struck by this offer.
“You’re the President.”
“People expect you to speak.”
I didn’t want to beg, but I had no choice. “Please, Jason, please understand…”
But I didn’t want to give him my reasons either. “Jason…”
“People expect you to speak.” he said again.
Jason went on a couple more times. He was trying to make a big show of compromise, and by the time he agreed, everyone had already left to the canteen for lunch. He went to the front, ahead of all the tables while I sat at a nearby table. He called for silence, people repeated his orders throughout the tables and soon he began to speak.
He spoke quickly about how the water polo event had to be cancelled. There were a lot of jeers, but Jason raised an open palm.
“Instead, we will be letting you have a rest. All the teams will pick one representative for a super race that starts at the pool, goes through a variety of obstacles, and ends at the other side of the field.
“All except Yellow, of course. Team Yellow happens to have Pete, President o Student Council. He will also be engaging in this race?”
My mind was going Pete Pete Pete Pete race race race race. What? I didn’t agree to that. No, I didn’t! But the damage was done. A lot of the people broke into cheering, probably at the prospect of the shy introvert getting out for such a public affair. I staggered to Jason, but all Jason did was slap me on the shoulder, turn me to face the crowd as more people cheered and laughed.
“A PR act.” Jason whispered to me quietly. “You’ll manage. Just for fun.”
“I already told the school. You’ll have to do it.”
“You said there’s this pool thing. I don’t have my swimming kit here. I can’t do it.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Pete. Don’t you worry at all. We can always give free swimming trunks for the President.”
I stared at Jason blankly amid the clapping.
That guy could hardly contain his total joy at the prospect of my humiliation.