Monday, November 5, 2012

Career Day

“Everyone welcome Debbie’s mother, Mrs. Redwood. She has a magnificent job that I am sure each of you will be thrilled to hear about. This will be a big surprise, since Debbie is new here and I doubt anyone knows what her mother does for a living. I will give you one hint: Every night when you fall asleep, Mrs. Redwood could tell each of you exactly what you are dreaming of! Now listen closely.”
Raina Stinson scuttled eagerly to her desk to hear Margaret Redwood’s presentation. After listening through the tedious lives of office managers, construction workers, and a book editor, she could not wait to hear this.
Looking wan and haggard, Debbie’s mother, Margaret Redwood, languidly made her way to the front of the class. Her listless demeanor immediately gave Raina concern. Margaret had just made it to the class, so Raina did not have a chance to say more than “Hi” to her. Seeing how flaccid Margaret appeared now, Raina wished she had talked to her more.
Margaret leaned against the podium at the front of the classroom, slowly scanned the classroom, and finally spoke. “If you ever have to do this for your child, get out of it at every cost.” She tapped her long, manicured nails against the base of the podium. “I really hate speaking in front of people…in front of crowds. I never do it. Never.”  
Her embarrassed blushing changed the creaminess of her brown skin to make her look feverish. She stammered, “What…I…do. What…I…used to do…until today.” She looked to the floor, then back to the dismayed third graders. “I hate it. I just hate it!”
With that, Margaret slid to the floor and sat bawling, her head bouncing on her folded knees in rhythm to her cries. Lifting her head, she whimpered, “I got fired. Just yesterday I found out. Of all the jobs, I’d never worked as hard or loved as much as this one. And now, after agreeing to talk with you guys, something I said I’d never do, I’ve got nothing!”
Margaret covered her head again, and Raina Stinson finally gathered herself from the scene enough to try and take control. She wanted to dismiss the class, but it was too soon for recess. She looked to the teacher’s pet, Hannah Ringold, and said, “Please hurry and get the Assistant Principal. We need to dismiss the class.”
A roar of cheers rushed through the class, until Desmond Porro, the brainiac of the classroom, stood and pounded his book on his desk. “Just wait a minute! I need to know one thing.” Quiet held the room, and everyone, including stressed-out Raina Stinson and teary-eyed and despondent Margaret Redwood, looked to Desmond, astonished at his outbreak.
“Before we leave,” he stepped closer to the front of the class and looked directly into Mrs. Redwood’s eyes, “I want to know what-the-heck-job you used to have!” All the students turned to hurl wadded papers at Desmond Porro, and Margaret cried even louder, putting end to the class.

~ A Reader's Digest prompt entry of 500 words or less: You've agreed to give a talk at your child's school for Career Day. Not only do you hate public speaking, you found out yesterday that you've been fired from your job—and you haven't told your kid yet. Write what happens when you go to the school to present.

I’ve added a few words here for clarification.

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