"Come on, Michael," cries Lily, "you can nail this. No one is better speaker than you."
I can't answer. My chest balloons and shrinks rapidly. I am kneeling down before the plant, with two boiled tomatoes on my cheeks. The fragile plant squeezes and jerks in the breeze. I stoops down to water the plant.
Oh my, oh my. The water splashes all over the yard. The plastic water pot rolls around the grass, grumbling and growling to me. My hands shake and my two legs vibrates like Daddy's old alarm clock.
"My,my," gasps Lily, "you must feel very nervous. Don't bother about watering it and relax."
She goes into the house to get more water. So I just sit there, staring at the plant. Lily is the only friend I have. Other boys and girls called my a lunatic and sissy for watering my precious plant and carrying it everywhere, even to school. I know that was weird but what shall I do without it? It is a comfort to hold my fragile, timid mind in place. Of course, there is nothing special about the plant o them. It has thin stem and its tiny leaves has a normal shade of green. Its buds are stretched high to the sky, waiting for their best time to bloom. But it is better than Beast's enchanted rose and Jack's enormous pea tree to me.
Lily comes back with another pot of water. While she is watering the plant, I stroke the plant tenderly as if it is my little puppy.
I stare it for a moment and sigh.
"I don't think I can do this, Lil,"
"Of course you can do this!" She chants vigorously, beaming assuredly at me. She is always brave and optimistic. Her white teeth and silver braces gleam in the sunlight.
I sigh again. Others said I am a special boy. Probably because I didn't shout in the top of his lungs or play soccer and paint his kneecap in glorious shade of red like other boys do. No, I was always silent and shy. I hated challenges and changes. Over them all, I hated standing (or sitting, or talking, or running, or eating, etc.) in front of other people.
Papa's car beeps and squeals enthusiastically before the gate.
"Come on, Micky, or else we're going to be late!" Shouts my father through the car window. He is delighted and excited that his timid son decided to enter a speech contest and speak in front of hundreds of people.
Third sigh. I curse himself for volunteering to enter the contest. Why did I? I do not know. I was gone quite nuts at the moment, perhaps. Anyway there is no chance of retreating since it was all settled.
I hop into the car and it begins to race down the avenue. The trees had shown up to celebrate the departure of Michael the Great. They cheer and hoot and sway their long arms in glee.
'Oh, dear God,' I whisper to myself as the houses and trees vanish behind me. 'let this be all dream.'
If being nervous can be expressed as having butterflies in stomach, I have thousands of them swirling and clapping their wings, roaring and howling (If butterflies can do that. I wasn't sure.) in the mad tornado that rouses inside me. I do, in fact, feel unpleasant jolts and squeezes in my stomach.
Oh my, oh my. The dreaded place finally has arrived. (Or I arrived to the place. Sorry, I can't figure out what is correct since my mind is all smracbled. ) I stumble off the car, hugging the plant tightly in my arms. Daddy taps my back cheerfully and assures me that I would break my leg.
Correction: I would break his neck. I am quite certain.
The noise grows louder and louder in the performer's waiting room as the time comes closer and closer around the nervous candidates. I remain silent and pale. My legs tremble under my little plant. I am sure that I am sick and I would be knocked over in few minutes. Terrific. I would at least see how ambulance looks like.What if I stumble and fall down while going up to the stage? What if I forget lines? I already began to feel unsure if he remembered his middle part correctly. What if I cry or stammer or faint? The audience will laugh at me and the judges will shake their grim hands at me. I will be the worst performer ever. Oh, my, oh my. Millions of butterflies swarms inside me.
The performers goes out of the room one by one to perform. Oh, my God. I squeeze my plant even tighter. My teeth clench and sweats run down my face. My insides begin to dance crazy salsa again.
"Michael McMinchin, number 13."
What did she say? Who is that woman? Did she just call my name?"
"Michael McMinchin, number 13." Cried louder and less kind voice.
So it is my turn. I think I am fainting. I am falling, falling, falling............
But I am not. I am standing on the stage, with a dreadful microphone before me. Oh my! I think I forgot how to begin. Someone must have clicked 'reset' button in my brain! I remember nothing, I remember nothing about the speech! The hundreds of scary, fierce pairs of eyes stare at me. Why are they staring at me? Did I really puke to the audience? But I can't find any vomit on the stage...... and what was my first line, by the way? Oh, my, OH MY!
I seriously want to go back. But there is no retreating.
They are still staring at me-
I see Lily mouthing something at me. It will probably be "Come on, Micky,"
Wait, I think I remember the first line.
Come on, Micky! You can do this!
"Ladies and gentlemen....." the lights are flashing at me. The plant's leaves are twitching in my arms, pressing me to go on.
Ladies and gentlemen, today I'm going to share about dreams. "Why
dreams? Adults would ask, " Dreams are just silly plays of childhood."
Everything is strangely quiet. All eyes are fixed on me. Fine. I'm beginning to enjoy this.
But you are wrong. Everyone should dream, no matter if you are a crying baby or aging bachelor. If you don't believe me, I will tell you about a man I have met five years ago.
Breathe in. Come on, Michael. You can do this.
He preached in our school when I was six. He preached about dreams. About birds who started to spread their wings and flowers which began to bloom. According to his words, no one can live tomorrow without dreaming. No one can live tomorrow without expecting that tomorrow will be fine or even better. He said dream was the nature hidden in our heart since we were created.
Breathe out. Michael, you have to finish this.
I see that some of you are doubtful. Let me tell you more about that preacher. He gave each one of us seeds to plant in our yards after the sermon. Some lost it and some littered it on the streets but I planted it and watered it every day. I used to sit before the plant and think about the preacher's words. As the plant grew, my dream began to grow. I used to muse on the preacher's words and I used to dream to be a preacher just like him.
So here I am. I may not be perfect preacher like him. But it doesn't matter because that plant taught me to dream and hope. It taught me to face tomorrow. It taught me that tomorrow can be better. Because I have learned that, I am happy even though I might not be talented, extraordinary boy. Don't you want plants like this too? If you do, don't go searching for your yards. The seeds of these plants are already planted deep, deep down in your heart. As the preacher said, everyone can dream. If I can dream, you can dream too.Just don't quench it. Let it grow. Let it sprout out from your desires and eventually bloom inside you. I can dream. You can dream. Everyone can dream. Let us walk into this world together, hand in hand, dreams planted deep down in our bosoms, and fill this world with the scent of hopes and dreams.
Applause surrounds me. Everyone stands up and cheers and claps wildly. Feeling nervous, I squeeze my plant tightly into my arms.
I notice something strange about the plant. It begins to shake and vibrate like mad.
Oh, my, God. The plant bursts with a boom and thousands of buds drifts in the air. Some are red and some are white. Some are purple and some are pink. They all dance in the auditorium and land in the audiences' bosoms. They begins to bloom. The scent of roses and orange flowers and honeysuckles fill the air. The flowers are dancing in their masters' bosoms like baby butterflies. But no one seems to notice. They are laughing and chattering and discussing about how marvelous my speech had been.
I look back to the pot where the plant had been. It had vanished. Instead, in the bottom of the pot, there is a big, almond-shaped pot, ready to be planted.
I look back to the audience. One little girl, probably 7 years younger than me, comes into sight. She is wearing gray skirt and thick glasses. She doesn't have any flower in her bosom. I grip the almond-shaped seed in my firm fist.
Come on, Michael, you can do this.