A Speech — Oh, Groans!

“Speeches,” Mavis grumbled. “How do I hate thee!? Let me count the ways!”

She tossed her homework on her bed and plopped down in despair at her desk. One day to choose a topic. Tomorrow in English class they had to announce their choice–and her mind was a complete blank.

For a few minutes she dredged the depths of her grey matter for some “informative” subject that she could talk about for a whole three minutes–but only turned up mud.

“Is there a subject that really turns you on, or pushes your buttons?” Miss Gibbings had asked after the chorus of groans subsided. “Something you’re passionate about, some point you feel must be made to the world? Something that thrills you with joy? Something that evokes shock or disgust and you feel this situation has to change?”

Mavis thought about other years, other speeches. Clammy hands, dry mouth, short of breath, shaky legs, butterflies in your stomach. Each minute felt like five–and when you finally sat down, you shriveled in your seat, imagining the after-class critique you were going to get from your friends. Speeches kill passion like bleach kills germs!

Miss Gibbings had tried to be encouraging, “After all, you never know when you may land a job as a newscaster,” she told them, “or become some company CEO. Or a politician – and have to make all kinds of public speeches to explain why you just blew $2 million of the taxpayers’ money on some fabulous scheme that fizzled. That takes some pretty convincing talk!”

“Ha! I will never make public speeches!” Mavis vowed, glaring at the playful pup on the calendar above her desk. “When I leave school I’ll go to work in a factory quietly sewing buttons on men’s shirts.” She grinned at the thought. “Or become a librarian and tell everyone else to hush it. Or maybe get a job teaching deaf mutes!”

She paused, contemplating how it would work to teach someone without being able to say one word. That could be really interesting–and maybe even fun!”

Then the light bulb flashed. “That’s what I’m going to write about!” she told the calendar pup. “Sign language. It’s such a neat idea for teaching deaf people; I wonder who invented it?”

She jumped up from her seat and rushed downstairs. “Mom, would I have time before supper to make a quick trip to the library? We have to give a speech in English class next month and I need to read up on my topic.”

Passion had survived the bleaching.

I did this for a writing exercise one day; we were supposed to use the words public, rapture, bleach, and shriveled in a composition. I think I’ve posted it here before, but hope you won’t mind seeing it again.


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