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This is the feeling. Palms damp with sweat, stomach tied up in knots, brain blank and heart beating a mile a minute.
“Name?” he repeats. I swallow.
"Erin Blint.” I state it with a faltering voice. He can tell I am nervous.
“You can take a seat.” I glance behind me at the room. Rows of desks cram the space. Desks waiting to be filled with people who will see me. People who will say hello and expect me to reply with ease. People who will watch me as I stutter and judgejudge me.
I take three short steps and set my bag on the desk furthest from the front, pushed into the wall for extra walking room. I can tell the teacher is judging me already. He will hate me.
The books I need for this class are numerous and heavy. I pull them out one by one, staring at the titles and wondering what I will pretend to learn. Students filter in as I sit down. They are chatting and gossiping and laughing. I stare at my desk, my fingers clutching the edge.
I glance around. The various posters, splattered with messages like "The Golden Thread" and "Vary your sentence structure" tell me this is English class. The white board is perfectly clean except for the date written at the top: January 15, 2007. The room is exceptionally large and completely jammed with desks. The remnants of holiday decorations remain: torn snowflakes, a sad looking snowman, a small, dilapidated sign reading "Merry Christmas". Students mingle in the front of the classroom, talking. I look back down to my desk.
Class starts two minutes later. I see the students sit, and then slowly realize there's a newcomer. The news is passed quickly from desk to desk until almost everyone is staring at me. I open one of the books and start reading it, hoping they'll remove their eyes. My heart beats faster. Mr. Winceson gives an announcement about an extra credit project, and then he glances at me. This is the moment.
“We have a new student today. Could you introduce yourself?” He nods encouragement my way, but my breath is already frozen.
“Um,” I look back at Mr. Winceson and then back to the class. “I'm Erin.” I stare back at my desk and wipe my hands on my jeans. I sit.
“Welcome, Erin. You’ve just transferred, right?” I look up and bite my tongue.
“Y-yeah. K-kind of.” There is a long moment of silence. Everyone is looking at me. I feel their gazes in my mind. They set anxious thoughts through my head, into my hands and feet. He finally moves on, smiling at me and winking, as if he didn't notice the anxiety in my eyes. As if he didn't hear me stutter with uncertainty. As if I were normal.