One day, my seventh-grade English teacher picked me to answer a question she had asked the class, even though about ten other students raised their hands to eagerly answer it while both my hands were folded on my desk. Miss Mendoza issued readers to the class (Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island) at the beginning of the semester, which was three weeks earlier. Yet, since then, I had not even flipped its cover to peek inside the book. And I believed Miss Mendoza as well as every other soul in that classroom knew it.
Ever since she began discussing the book in class with us, things had gone smoothly for me -- she never once chose me to answer any question, mainly because my hands never left my desk whenever she asked one. But, now, she definitely caught me off guard when she aimed her tormenting brown eyes at me to put me in the spotlight. As she and my fellow students waited for words to exit my mouth, it felt as if the volume in the room had dipped to zero. Not a sound was made as all the eyes focused on me started to make my skin itch. I should have played hooky.
In the rear of the room, I began to fidget in my seat, wishing that I were in any other place but in the class. The silence, the stillness -- why did the moment have too be so darn long? I found myself grappling with my vocal chords. Millions of words wanted to flee from them, but I couldn't find a single one appropriate to satisfy Miss Mendoza. My pretense served no purpose, only putting more smiles on the faces of my classmates and bringing more giggles from their mouths. Trapped and desperate, I lowered my head to unlock gazes with Miss Mendoza and surrendered.