I shifted in discomfort as an annoying silence veiled over the hall. Vague wide stares reaching to the stage where stood my sister, Bella, with a scared and anxious face. From the back echoed a series of careless snoring, and considering the fear on her face, it was obvious that the sound came from a dominant person of the event.
Bella looked around warily. Flat stares stalked her movements as she pulled the mic closer to her lips; so close even her breaths echoed through it. Quick and short inhales followed by stammering exhales. Her words slurred and jumbled into one another; barely understandable for the dazed crowd, all contrasting the sheer enthusiasm on our Mum’s face.
“Sweetie, you can do it!” Mum cheered at the top of her lungs, and almost immediately the snoring from the back turned into short coughs followed by a groan. Bella smiled back at her while I sank deep into my seat and blamed myself for even coming to this event. I didn’t even want to come here in the first place. It was Teddy, my best friend’s plan, who considers herself to be an expert in breaking people’s cheapskate demeanour.
“Look, girl, if you want your Mum to buy that amazing dress for you, just do something that will make her happy.” Her words repeated in my head, “So when she’s in her happy place, you can just strike like a Cobra.”
What else could make a better opportunity for me to make her happy than seeing me being a good elder sister and supporting my little sister in her first public-speaking event? But there was one catch - the enthusiasm was missing from my face.
“So it’s cru-crucial for u-us,” And a series of groans, blended with loud sneers, erupted from the back. Enough to make the stuttering worse. My eyes dropped to her palm and noticed her thumb twiddling with the bracelet around her other wrist as if it would magically grant her confidence.
“I think Bella is a bit nervous,” Mum whispered, making me chuckle at her usage of the word ‘a bit nervous’. “You should do something to cheer her up.”
“What? Why me?”
She gave me her piercing glare, “I don’t know, maybe because you’re her sister.” Gazing back at Bella, she continued her cheering.
I was about to defend myself when Teddy’s words again played in my head. Make her happy, strike like a cobra.
Drawing in a tired breath, I stood up from my seat and wove through the audience to the back of the hall. Bella’s eyes caught my movement and frowned as the exit gate was close to where I was going. Not breaking our eye-contact, I swayed my hand like a chief conductor in an orchestra, gesturing to her to calm down. She nodded and drew in a deep, noisy breath before continuing her speech again.
“B-but people a-are…” And the stammering didn’t stop. But at least it subsided. Feigning a gentle gaze, I mouthed her some assuring words like ’It’s fine.”, “Don’t be scared, I’m here for you.” which surprisingly worked considering the smile that tugged at her lips as her monotone speech grew an inflection of passion and optimism. I patted myself on the shoulder as Mum smiled at me and showed me an enthusiastic ‘thumbs up’.
Soon, the agonizing hours rolled out and Bella’s speech ended. Mum and I waited for her while she had a conversation with her teacher about something.
“You did a great job today, sweetie,” Mum said as she beamed at me, waking my once asleep thoughts again.
I drew in a deep breath and glanced at her, “Mum, I wanted to tell you something?” I said in one breath.
“What is it - no wait, honey, I want to tell you something too.”
“Ah, umm,” I sighed, “Yeah, sure. You go first”
“Honey, I always knew you two had a special bond, even though you look like you don’t care at all about Bella, but from the inside, I knew you do - Oh, love, you don’t know how much happy you made me today. I’m so proud of you. The two of you.” She said before pulling me into her embrace and squeezing my face between her arms. “I love you, honey.”
“Me too, Mum,” She let out a breath of relief and joy before letting me slip out of her embrace. Warmth glistened in her eyes, which made the words jumble on my tongue.
She looked happy and according to the plan; it was the best time to ask for the dress, but a huge lump was pressing against my throat making it difficult for the words to leap out.
“So, what do you want to tell me, love?”
Only a sigh managed to come out as I stared back at her widely. Not knowing how to say. “I...umm…” She looked at me with her concerned gaze.
I sighed and pulled out a soft grin, “Nothing mum, I just wanted to say… Bella gave an amazing speech today and I am really proud of her.”
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