I was terrified. My instructor had asked me to give my report orally. Was she insane? She must be. Anyone that knew me knew I was terrified of public speaking. I had battled my fear since I was seven when my mother made me get up in front of the family at a reunion and sing “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”
I stood there in the pink, ruffled dress that I loathed while dozens of eyes pierced my own. I was shaking as I corralled the tears behind my eyelids. Then my mother said those devastating words:
“Come on, Lisa. Everyone is looking at you! “
I opened my mouth, but the words “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb!” did not fall from my nervous lips.
All over my shoes, my pretty pink socks.
“Lisa?” The instructor’s hoarse voice snapped me back from my nightmare.
“Huh?” I retorted in a daze.
“Lisa, your report. Please.”
I shifted in my seat as I chanted positive affirmations in my head like “you can do this!” and “boo yah!” and “don’t puke dumbass!”
I stood slowly and looked around. There they were; those nasty eyes like a giant thirty four-eyed lizard slithering its forked tongue at me. They belonged to my seventeen classmates. I wanted to hiss at them as I curled up in the corner.
At the podium, I adjusted the microphone awkwardly. Surely my innate microphone positioning would send my speaking over the top!
I panned the classroom. But no one was looking back at me. There were no faces! I was looking at seventeen people without faces.
“What?” I heard myself whisper in the hushed room.
“Lisa,” my instructors voice again.
Wait, I thought. If they can’t see me, then they can’t hear me!
I did a virtual happy dance as I cleared my throat.
“Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb! Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow! Everywhere that Mary went, that lamb was sure to follow!”
I beamed. I did it!
After a brief silence, the class erupted.
“What the hell was that?” one man scoffed.
“Where’s your white dress, Mary?” another girl mocked.
They heard me! Oh no!
I squeezed my eyes shut and covered my ears. “Shut up! Shut up!”
The air fell silent. My eyes creaked open to see the faceless class. The instructor stood in the back, faceless as well.
I gave my report, clapped for myself and sat down.