Sunday, December 13, 2009

sunday scribblings~brave

the only thing to fear

it had taken everything shelly had to sign up for the event. she knew that she’d be there, in front of so many, exposed for all to see, all of them--waiting. standing backstage, there in the wings, she rubbed the material of her dress between her fingers...her chewed nails catching on the fabric. she worried it was too long, too plain, when all the other girls had on much shorter, much prettier ones...hers was simple, theirs sparkled and glittered in the reflected lights. she noticed their hair was perfect, while hers tended to go wispy, and they stood in circles whispering and giggling to each other. sure, a few stood alone, as she did, some with eyes closed, some looking about, all of them with the look she knew she wore--a bold facade overlaying a intense fear.

in the midst of her stress, ana baker pinched her arm, hissing, “they called your name... GO!!”. shelley moved forward, a stumble of a move, almost falling as she went into the bright lights, sensing the crowd beyond them, hearing the gasp that arose over her ungainly entrance.

there she stood...the others already in place; she was feeling isolated, feeling she had made a mistake. it was silent, still... coughs coming from the place beyond the lights, all of them in the line breathing lightly, rapidly. the group waited, to see how they’d do, how they’d be accepted.. if they’d be laughed at---this, this was their greatest fear.

“shelley? will you step up here, please?” she followed the disembodied voice, her throat dry, her brain skittering from what was going to happen.

“shelley podber? it's time. now, please spell the word, ‘brave’ for us.” the voice of her second grade teacher spoke out of the dark.

licking her lips, hands locked together, she faced the microphone and opened her mouth....


  1. Being a nail-biter, I immediately identified with Shelly. I hurt for her when she compared her hair and dress to the others.

  2. Yes, this has a great build-up with lots of suspense. I was hanging on every word, waiting to see what this was leading to.

  3. Ahh, I was wondering what the scene was. I'm not entirely certain if a girl who'd wear a glittery dress to a spelling bee would actually be participating in it, but that small detail sets us up so beautifully for the event to be something as mundane (maybe "not sexy" is a better way to phrase it) as a spelling bee.

    I'd bet most of us have been in Shelly's shoes more than once. That's what makes this piece so very well done.

  4. thanks all... as always, i'm flattered you take the time to read and comment.

    susan~i went with glittery because i do remember the little girls who dressed in party best for events at school...

  5. ah man - no glitter in my memory but Kim was a girl who had perfectly straight hair and plaid skirts with matching sweater sets. I always felt like I had been rolled in a mud puddle next to her. Great one Quin.

  6. Nice psyche! I thought it was a beauty pageant.

  7. reminded of me trying to MC my eigth grade
    musice festival. I was scared as hell but I didn't wear a sparkely dress

  8. loved the detail of her nails caught in the fabric of her dress. Between the nail biting and the rough fabric, the sense of it puts the reader in the story. Just loved 'disembodied voice, dry throat.. brain skittering'.. again, the reader can feel the anxiety. wonderful build-up too, quin. but I know I'll always be treated to an interactive story when i visit here.