Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: EMBARRASS(ED) (11/03/16)
TITLE: Shy Little Sheila
By Wendy Godwin
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The auditorium started to fill as more proud parents entered, so Sheila quickly found a seat. When Laura looked her way, Sheila waved and winked at her. Her daughter smiled, but raised her hand just slightly to wave back. Sheila understood. This nervousness and aversion to attention she knew well.
As the lights dimmed, the children took their places and the stage was set for the New Hope Christian School’s Annual Thanksgiving Play. Laura looked cute and prim in her little bonnet, long brown dress and apron. Sheila had helped Laura practice her lines all week. She watched her little girl take her seat at the makeshift Thanksgiving table, surrounded by her classmates. Memories of years ago, when she was in school, filled her head.
Laura’s part wouldn’t come for a while so Sheila let her mind wander. She thought about the teacher who had encouraged ‘Shy Little Sheila’, as many had called her, to participate more in class. Her teacher had taught her that everyone makes mistakes. That not trying was the biggest mistake. She had taught the class to be kind to each other. But, most importantly, taught them to laugh at themselves. The empty aluminum chair beside Sheila began to make a rattling noise as her cell phone, resting on top of it, vibrated. Annoyed faces glanced back and she grabbed her phone to silence it.
Oh, my, how ironic, she mused at this unwanted attention. She stifled a giggle then glanced at her phone. It was a client who she had been trying to contact all week, but it would have to wait. She pressed the power button and set her phone back on the chair, quietly. Sheila had overcome her fear of rejection to build a business that she loved, but business stuff could come later. Right now, she just wanted to enjoy her daughter’s play.
She focused her attention on Laura now. Her little bonnet started to slide to the side as she sat there at the table, and she looked as if she might cry. Sheila watched as almost motionlessly Laura tugged on the bottom of the bonnet’s long ties to try to straighten it. Instead it came untied. Sheila silently prayed “Lord, please calm Laura. I know how nervous she is, Lord. Please help her through this.”
Just then there was a commotion as the little fidgety boy, who now sat beside Laura, stood up to say his part. One of Laura’s long bonnet strings had somehow tangled itself around his arm. When he reached up high in a sweeping gesture to accentuate his speech, he pulled Laura’s bonnet right off her head. There it was, dangling from his arm. Sheila held her breath and waited as the little boy pointed at Laura’s disheveled hair and giggled.
All eyes were on Laura and she looked clearly, understandably, upset. There she sat, while the little boy pointed. Other children around the table started to giggle. What was just a minute or so must have seemed like an hour to Laura. It certainly did to Sheila. Laura looked over at the teacher as she started to carefully make her way onstage to help. Then, something about Mrs. Pratt’s expression made Laura smile. She started to giggle. Soon Laura and her whole class were laughing. The whole auditorium laughed along. Sheila sighed a prayer of thanksgiving.
After the play, there were lots of hugs and congratulations. Sheila told Laura how proud she was as she gave her a high-five then a hug. She lingered as the children lined up two by two, their backs toward her, to head back to class. Mrs. Pratt, long past retirement age, turned sparkling eyes to Sheila. With a wink and a smile, she turned back around and headed off with her class.
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