Here In The 'Present' Moment

Submitted into Contest #50 in response to: Write a story about a person experiencing pre-performance jitters.... view prompt

35 comments

Funny Kids

“Good morning, everyone,” says the teacher standing in front of the class.


A few people mumble “Good morning,” in reply. The man raises his eyebrows in slight surprise, as if he hadn’t expected an answer from anyone at seven o’clock in the morning.


 “Welcome to Biology 101,” he continues. “I hope you all had a fun summer break. My name is Mr. Astor, and I will be your teacher for the duration of this year. Any questions before we begin?”


The class is silent now, and I take the opportunity to look around and estimate how many students there are—there seem to be around fifteen to twenty people. I tuck my elbow-length, chestnut hair behind my ear and rub my eyes, still trying to fully wake up. After three months of summer vacation, I wasn’t exactly prepared for my alarm to go off at six-thirty A.M. today.


"Okay then, if there are no questions, I'm just going to go ahead and take attendance," says Mr. Astor, looking at a sheet of paper in his hands which undoubtedly contains a list of all our names. "When I call your name, just say 'here', alright?"


A murmur of assent spreads across the class. Okay, Eleanora, I tell myself, it's going to be fine. All you need to do is put your hand up and say 'here'. Not hard.


I take a deep breath and nod slightly, when something suddenly occurs to me. Wait, should I put my hand up and say 'here', or should I just say 'here'? What about if I say 'present'? Will people think I'm weird if I do? What if my name gets confused with the other Eleanora? It's just my luck that there's another Eleanora in my class. What if my voice cracks? Oh, god, what if my voice cracks? Okay, I'll just see what everyone else does.


"Ryan?"


"Here," a boy says from behind me. Oh, shoot, I didn't see if he put his hand up. Dang it.


"Amelia?"


"Here!" she announces clearly.


I frown. Okay, that was kind of loud, right? I don't know if I want to say it that loud. She put her hand up, but it was, like, really enthusiastically. You want to be cool about this. All the teacher's doing is saying your name. You're not a celebrity.


"Ariana?"


I look around the room. No answer. Wait, he did say 'Ariana', right? Did I totally zone out? Did he say my name? Oh, god, did he say my name and I misheard? I'm going to look like a total idiot—


"Ariana's absent," the boy next to me says. I exhale in relief. Thank god.


"Thank you," Mr. Astor says, making a mark on the sheet as he looks at the next name, "Katelyn?"


Okay, he definitely said Katelyn. Oh god, am I in the right class? What if he doesn't call my name? I remember signing up for Biology 101, and he said that at the beginning, so I must be. But is this the right period? Wait, no, I checked my schedule this morning, and yes it is. I’ll be fine. Oh, god.


"Here," Katelyn says, flicking her wrist slightly as she speaks.


Yeah, I guess I could do that. I discreetly try flicking my wrist, thankful beyond measure that I'm not in the front row. Ouch! Did I sprain something? Ugh. Okay, don't do the wrist thing. This is stupid.


"Jesse?"


It's literally the first day of school. In fifty years, nobody's going to remember that you messed up, right? Right? Ugh.


"Here," mumbles Jesse.


Mr. Astor looks around. "I didn't hear you. Jesse, are you here?"


Oh, god, I think, panicked, What if I do it right but I don't speak clearly enough? How is everyone else doing this?


"Here!" Jesse repeats, louder this time.


"Got it, thank you," says Mr. Astor, checking off Jesse's name and looking at who's next on the list. My heart pounds. It's going to be me next. Oh, god, someone help me.


"Nora?"


What? Did he mean me? I mean, sometimes people call me Nora, but that's just my family. Oh my god, am I somehow related to this teacher? No, no, that's impossible. I swear I've never seen or heard of this man before in my entire life—


"Present," Nora says. Phew. Lucky escape. Wait, did she say 'present'? That's fine, then. But she's the only one who said 'present', so if we're the only two people who say it will it be weird?


"Hmm," Mr. Astor murmurs, "Lee-ah? Lay-ah? I'm sorry if I mispronounced your name, it's L-E-A-H?"


"It's Leah," says a girl a few rows ahead of me, "it rhymes with 'Mia'." She sounds resigned, as if she's done this countless times. The class ripples with quiet laughter, and Leah looks embarrassed.


"My apologies," says Mr. Astor, with an apologetic look towards Leah, "okay, who's next? Andrew?"


Oh, no. What if he says my name wrong? I mean, 'Eleanora' isn't that hard to pronounce, but what if the 'a' at the end throws him off? Also, Leah didn't say 'here', right? Oh, god.


Mr. Astor looks at the paper and frowns. “Eleanora?”


My eyes widen in alarm. Aahh! What do I do again? Open your mouth, you idiot!


“Oh, there seem to be two ‘Eleanoras’ in this period,” Mr. Astor says, and I wait with bated breath as he says, “Eleanora Gardner?”


“Here,” someone else says.


Thank god, I think gratefully, sinking further into my seat in relief, and he can pronounce my name just fine.


“Andrew Graham?”


After Andrew has confirmed his presence with a relaxed "Here", a feeling of dread swoops over me.


Mr. Astor looks around the class before looking back at the sheet. "Eleanora Hale?"


I can't help it—I panic. My mind goes blank, and I'm unable to make a sound.


"Eleanora Hale?" Mr. Astor repeats, "Are you here?"


Someone taps me on the shoulder, and I'm jerked out of my stupor. Just say it, Eleanora!


"Absent!" I squeak. Dang it.

July 12, 2020 20:53

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35 comments

Maliha Versi
21:09 Jul 12, 2020

This story is SO relatable and funny!! I’ve had a similar thought process multiple times and reading this just gave me the anxiety and stress all over again 😂 But the story is really good and entertaining!!!!

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21:11 Jul 12, 2020

Thank you so much! Lolll yeah same I freak out quite a bit about the smallest things smh, I'm glad you liked it!

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😍😍😍 I LOVE this! It’s mostly dialogue, and it broken up in a way that makes it super easy to read. The humor is amazing, too, especially the end! Also, you did really well writing a kid. I’m a kid—I’m not allowed to post stories, sadly—and I can tell you from personal experience that there’s quite a few authors who write kids like grow ups. Awesome job capturing a young voice! 😍😍😍 —AERIN!!! 🦄🦄🦄

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02:58 Jul 22, 2020

Hey Aerin! Thank you so so much for your wonderful feedback, and especially for sharing and recommending my story, it means so much! Haha I’m actually a teenager, so it’s easier for me to write as the younger voice, but I definitely see what you mean, it’s so much easier to write a character that’s your own age! Thanks for reading!

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Sarah Freeman
20:33 Jul 21, 2020

Yeah, it’s hilarious! I like how you really show how panicky Eleanora is for the first day of school. Really nice piece! Eleanora really does sound like she’s worried she’ll screw up and everyone will remember it for the next five decades. The tension and anxiety build up perfectly and the reader is stuck anticipating what she’ll say, and then all of a sudden she says the most hilarious response she possibly could have. In my opinion, it’s pretty much perfect.

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Ha, I knew you would like it! (I told Sarah to read this.)

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Sarah Freeman
20:34 Jul 21, 2020

Whatever.

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02:59 Jul 22, 2020

Thanks so much, Sarah! Haha I’m glad you enjoyed the ending, I thought it would be perfect for her to mess up because she was getting so frantic about it earlier, she just totally overthought everything! Thank you so much for reading!

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Sydney Sprout
05:28 Jul 13, 2020

I loved the story it was very relatable and also kept me interested the whole time I also liked the variation in her reactions as it got closer to her name!

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06:29 Jul 13, 2020

Thank you so much, Sydney! Haha yeah, I really enjoyed writing about her freaking out so much! Hope you're having a good summer break!

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21:52 Jul 12, 2020

This is a really great story! I laughed so hard, especially at the end!

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22:03 Jul 12, 2020

Thanks, Aamena!

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Phebe Emmanuel
00:33 Jul 18, 2020

100% hilarious. I love how she goes back on herself over and over. She's such a relatable character. Really good story!

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05:10 Jul 18, 2020

Haha thanks Phebe, glad you enjoyed it! I’m glad it was relatable because I don’t usually overthink things like this 😂 but maybe a lot of people do! Thanks for reading, really appreciate it!

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Phebe Emmanuel
05:24 Jul 18, 2020

Glad to make you smile!

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Maya Reynolds
22:26 Aug 13, 2020

This was a fun story, great job with it!

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02:41 Aug 14, 2020

Thanks so much, Maya!

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Maliha Versi
04:00 Aug 12, 2020

Love this!!!

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15:19 Sep 05, 2020

Thanks Maliha!!

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Grace M'mbone
18:52 Jul 24, 2020

Imaan this was great. Wow. You made me smile from the moment I fixed my eyes on the introduction. This was interesting and fun. The ending was especially funny. You definitely have a gift with words. Keep writing please Imaan. It would be an honour if you read just one of my stories. Again,this was absolutely amazing. Keep it up.

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21:46 Jul 24, 2020

Hi, Grace! Aww thank you so much, your words are really sweet and encouraging! I will definitely write more, thanks for reading! Of course, I’d love to read your stories!

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17:04 Jul 24, 2020

This story was so relatable and it made laugh a lot, especially at the ending

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21:44 Jul 24, 2020

Thanks so much, Pearl, glad you enjoyed it!

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James Ashton
03:14 Jul 23, 2020

Here for the critique circle. I thought your story was very creative and very, very relatable. I really enjoyed reading the anxious internal monologue as Eleanora desperately thought of the best way to say "Here." Great job!

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04:01 Jul 23, 2020

Hey James, thanks so much for reading my story! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, it means a lot!

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Hannah Alice
12:06 Jul 20, 2020

This is so good, and incredibly relatable haha! I loved how well you portrayed her spiralling thoughts and rising anxiety. And the ending made me chuckle 😂

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17:15 Jul 20, 2020

Haha thanks so much, Hannah! It’s reassuring to hear that my stories are making people laugh! Thanks for reading!

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Jen Park
11:58 Jul 20, 2020

I love the ending! 😂I broke out laughing. You conveyed the mind of a girl having jitters so specificly and perfectly that I felt bad for her. I experienced a similar thing, too!

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17:17 Jul 20, 2020

Thanks so much, Janey! Haha yes I felt sorry for Eleanora too 😂 I’m glad you found it relatable!

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Amber Lambda
21:21 Jul 18, 2020

This is so cute and relatable! I love the end, haha!

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00:08 Jul 19, 2020

Thanks so much, Amber! Haha yes the ending was my favorite part 😂, thanks for reading!

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Juliet Tullett
17:19 Jul 13, 2021

So funny. I really felt sorry for her anxiety and still laughed at the end. Good work.

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03:51 Jul 14, 2021

Thanks so much Julia, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I gave you a follow, can’t wait for you to post stories!

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Sarah Freeman
23:16 Jan 27, 2021

Omg what happened to your giant series?!?! Girl with no name?! Did I miss something?!?!

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23:29 Jan 29, 2021

Oh yeah, I had to take it down because of family issues and stuff which was sad, but it’s okay! It just can’t be up here anymore that’s all :(

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