An Odd Struggle- A Short Story

By Nicole Alicia

Opening one eye, she could see the orange glow from the street light outside her window. The dull glow pierced through the blinds that had no curtains covering them to block out the light.

She rolled over, breathed in deep and closed her eyes again. Wishing and thinking, maybe today wasn’t what it was. Sitting up in bed, she reached down to grab her phone out of her shoe that was right next to her nightstand. 6:45am.

Still worn-out from the night before, she had fallen asleep only a couple of hours ago. Her glasses now half tilted,about to slide off but still on her face. Getting off late at 2am, she still had chosen to come home an attempt to write the speech for class the next morning.

Anxiety was slowly creeping in and slapping her upside the head. Not only was she unprepared, she hated speaking in front of people. She was starting to wonder if her hate for public speaking was turning into more of a fear.

Hesitantly walking over to her old wooden desk chair, she tried to breathe through her thoughts. Stopping at the chair she said a brief prayer. “Lord, please let me make it through this. Amen.”

Getting dressed, she carefully placed one leg in her pants legs at a time. She looked at the clock on the wall again to check the time. The long hand was on now on seven and the short hand on three. Class was at 8 o’clock.

“Great,”she said.

I can have enough time to run over what I have, eat breakfast and finish. She rushed out of her room racing over went to the cafeteria to try and finish before class. While eating breakfast she pulled out the purple colored notebook and turned to the page she had begun writing on last night. There was only one paragraph existing so far.

“Things that we need to get through life, such a perplexing subject.”

The professor said to give a speech about anything. She wanted to tap into people’s emotions. She wanted her speech to touch the students and spread positivity like a Maya Angelou speech or Oprah speaking to a graduating class of students. But she had once again let life get in the way.

She knew she was in trouble too. This time procrastination might have been the splintery steak that killed her academic career.

Priorities, a word that had been swept under the rug. Priorities had been all screwed up since she was on her own paying for school now. Work had become more important than anyone and anything. It never started out to be a permanent thing either but spirals down goes the staircase.

Amongst the chatter she spaced out. A friend from class had came along and asked “Are you ready,” to which she laughed and shooed them away pointing to the nearly blank page that stared her down. There was only 10 minutes left to get across campus to class. Gathering her things she almost started to cry. Swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat she decided it was best to press on.

Running across campus she got to class out of breath and even more frayed. Walking in slow pretending to be calm, she sat down hoping the professor would overlook her tardiness. Settling down she rummaged for her notebook in her bag. She pulled it out and looked at the 3 paragraphs that she had formed, thinking about how she would make this into a 3 minute speech. 3 mins being the bare minimum.

She knew her grade was about to suffer for this one. She was thinking about changing her major for the 2nd time or 3rd time anyway.

“Okay, we will begin with Autumn Jones,” said Professor Noslack.

Looking up to the front of the snapping her neck up abruptly. Hoping that maybe there was another Autumn Jones in the class. She knew there wasn’t.

There it went. Boomp, boomp, save me, save me! Her heart starting beating rapidly as the 100 some students in her class all turned to fix their eyes on her. Trembling and heart racing she began to stand, forgetting the notebook on her lap. She bent down to grab the notebook, smacking her head on the side of the desk.

“Shoot,” she exclaimed.

They knew her as that odd chick on campus. The one that wore combat boots when it was 80 degrees out and flip flops in the fall. But more than that she just couldn’t ever seem to tame her super curly, bird’s nest, a beautiful pile of light brown curls.  She did the opposite of everyone else not to be annoying or different on purse, because it suit her. Following trends was never her thing. And people looked at her as being awkwardly odd for that.

Funny how people assume because of your looks.

Rising up slowly from kneeling next to her seat she made her way down to the podium that set up next to the regular lecture desk. As she got to the podium she nearly tripped on her long flowing paisley skirt.

She stared down at the silver bracelet her grandmother had given her shortly before her passing she remembered the strength and courage she had. But she didn’t have that poise. Nor did she have that confidence. After looking up and clearing her throat about 10 times. She tried to breath.

“Breathing relaxes you Autumn, breathe right. It’s no different than work.”

“Today, is she gonna speak today? You know I got a class I gotta get to after this !,” a boy spoke from the top corner of the classroom. She thought to herself. She nodded her head forward letting the curliness of her hair fall into her face. She hid her face most of the time with her big curly hair. On occasion which she pulled back out of her face with a headband or scarf.

“Hi my name is…uhhh Aut-umn. I’ll be speaking on the subject of …”

As she began her voice began to quiver and she stopped.

“Hey, instead of making a fool of myself, I guess I’ll actually speak on something that I do know about.”

Just as she began to speak, the professor who was sitting in the front row, motioned to her to stop.

“If you’re not going to give your speech on the topic you signed up for, kindly have a seat Miss Jones.”

She strolled back to her seat as everyone looked at her. She gathered up her things and prepared to leave.

She knew what she had done and was prepared to have to do some silly make up assignment or flunk the class. Even thought that was her M.O. these days.

She knew she had to pull it together and soon.She wanted to make this College thing work so desperately, but right now it was all about the money. School could wait couldn’t it? She would never say what she was thinking in her head to her parents.

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