Breathe (An Original Short Story)

          “Breathe in, breathe out,” the sound of the crowd waiting to hear my voice.The oxygen left my lungs, making me desperate for air.

I felt nervous, scared. I was anxious and uncertain. Was I ready to face the unpredictable crowd, slowly penetrating me and making me weak?

This was it. There’s no turning back now. Here we go.

Finally, here I stand. All I could think about was to turn around and quit. I can’t, I have no choice but conquer my fear. It is I who put myself in this situation.  I recall someone telling me that I should do this for myself, and not for anybody else. And so I did. With all my might, I went out there, my head held high ready to do what I was there for.

A day before the competition, I did my best to encourage myself to do the best I can the next day. I tried not to expect the best but to expect for the worst. Before I went to bed, I read through my lines, reviewed my coach’s instructions and prayed for guidance.

And there I was, standing, looking anxious as ever. I clasped my sweaty hands and told myself, “I can do this. It’s just a little speech.” Yes, a speech that could either earn me a reward or be put to shame.

The air was sucked right out of me.

I took a deep breath.

I opened my mouth, expecting the words to just flow out gracefully. But no, unfortunately, not even a word or a syllable came out. My mind went pitch black.

        “What should I do?”

         Staring blankly at the audience, I felt lifeless and lost. A sea of eyes watched me, anticipating me to speak.

Puzzled and fearful, I looked at my mentor, seeking for a signal. He smiled and gave me two ‘thumbs-up.’ The spotlight felt like the burning sun, its light dimming my view of the silent audience. I glanced above their darkened heads and spotted an open window.

Then, suddenly, I remembered my deceased grandfather and, his odd but meaningful sayings. One of those ran swiftly through my head, one that was permanently engraved on my heart.

       “If God has closed the door, he opens the windows.”

I knew it was time. This was it. It was the right time to prove to myself that I could do something great, something that would give me a sense of fulfillment.

I could feel his presence beside me, ready to guide me through my speech. I took another deep breath, and gently opened my mouth. Droplets of sweat ran down my face.   I clasped my hands tighter hoping that words would come out. To my surprise, words flourished. Everything happened so fast. I lost track of time. A gush of strong emotion made me gave my all to my speech. I felt relieved, pleased and relaxed. I knew that I was in my zone.

      The people started to rise as I finished. They applauded so loud that I can barely hear myself.

I was satisfied. Thank you grandpa.