Author's Note: My first non-fan fiction story. Be gentle, but be honest. I can handle it.
I'm scared. This classroom scares me.
It's not decorated with Halloween ghosts, ghouls, or bloody limbs, or anything of the sort. It's just a typical classroom. There are desks – way too many for the number of students in the room, if I may add. There is a blackboard, a teacher, other students, notebooks, pencils, books. Nothing is out of place. Nothing about this room scares me.
I'm shy. I keep to myself. Unless I've met someone who makes me feel safe and comfortable, I don't want to talk. I don't share my opinions and I don't add to conversations. I'm not anti-social. I just feel like I have nothing to add. Anyways, most of what passes through my head is private – it's just for me. Many of my thoughts have never seen the light of day. They sit there, in the back of my mind, for me to enjoy. My jokes are only funny for me. My words are only witty for me. I'm not like the person in my head. She's strong, confident, and very stubborn. She stands up for what she believes in and doesn't take anyone's bullshit. She's open, she's friendly, and she's very loving. Everyone would love her.
The problem is I don't know how to get her out of my head. If I did, I would, and if I could, this classroom wouldn't scare me like it does. Everyone's talking – to each other, to the teacher. They have jokes and stories and they're communicating on a level that surpasses mine. Maybe it's not even comparable to my level. We're definitely not reading the same words. Why do I read about an evil army of snowmen while everyone else sees the loss of innocence and growing older? There must have been a memo. I must have missed it. I need to check my emails more often.
The class that scares me is poetry class. I've never liked poetry, but I need the credit, and if I'm honest, I hate reading. Writing, I enjoy. Give me a pen and a paper and I'll write to my heart's content. I've always got a sin my head – a story centered on a girl who is a lot more outgoing and fun than I am. She's a lot braver. She's who I want to be, but I can't. I don't have her courage. I don't have her strong will. Well, my will is strong enough to keep me in this class and it is what keeps me motivated to do better. I know I suck at poetry, but I'm determined to do well in this class. I need the credit, but I also need to prove everyone wrong.
The person I want to prove wrong is the teacher. He scares me. He's got a friendly face, a warm smile, and he speaks with confidence. I don't think I need to mention he's great at poetry. He knows I'm not good with it. He tries to help me improve. He's not doing it right.
The class just finished reading a long poem. It's only an excerpt from the original, but it's gone on for pages already. Not only is it long, but it's also very challenging. You'd think that, because I like to write, I would have a huge vocabulary, but I don't. It's not tiny, but I don't like making life complicated. I like simple things. I don't want to be a know-it-all. I want to be understood.
"Rose?" I heard my name from the teacher and look up slightly. I tried to make myself invisible in this class because I have nothing to add. This poem is, by far, the most difficult one we've ever had to dissect, and I don't understand a word of it. The teacher looks my way expectantly, "What are your thoughts on this poem?"
"It's long," I say for two reasons: either it's going to buy me some time to come up with an answer that doesn't make me sound like I should be reading Dr. Seuss, or he'll take it as my two-cents and move on to someone else. Anyone else.
The class laughs. It's not a mean laugh. No one in this class is mean. They are all friendly, understanding and kind people. That just goes to show how shy I really am. These people are nice, and I'm terrified to approach them.
When the laughter subsides there is a silence. The teacher looks my way and I know he's waiting for a real answer. I flip through the pages of the poem, hoping something will come to mind. My face is red, my ears are burning up. It feels like all eyes are on me, and they probably are. My eyes stick to the words as I scan up and down the pages. Something's got to come. Something's got to come.
"What happens in this poem, Rose?" the teacher's trying to push me. He's trying to help, but he's doing anything but. Is this a follow-up question? Do I need to tell him my thoughts on this poem and what happens? I can barely figure out the title. Who wrote this poem again? What does that word mean? When can I go home?
Without looking up I start to shake my head. The teacher's a smart man, he should be able to understand that I'm stuck and I can't do this, but the silence continues. My heart's racing and I think I'm about to cry. I continue shaking my head as the silence thickens.
Someone must have put their hand up, or the teacher gave up. He calls on another student who immediately starts blabbering out their ideas of the poem, diving deep into themes, analyzing the meter, picking up on shifts in tones, and all that other stuff that goes along with poetry. All the stuff I can't do, especially now. I'm terrified and humiliated. I sink into my chair and stare at the words on the paper. I can't focus anymore. I can't even listen. My heart's pounding in my chest and my ears are on fire. My hands are trembling so much I can barely hold my pen.
Before I can calm down, it's time to go. I pack up my things and with my head held low I leave the classroom as quickly as I can. I feel horrible about myself. I feel stupid. The one trait I share with the person in my head is my stubbornness, and that's what's keeping me in this class despite my failures. I've never abandoned a class before and I refuse to give up, but I feel so… terrible. School has never made me feel this bad before. I've never been this bad at anything.
"I'm just not good at poetry," I tell myself. It's something I'm going to have to accept. Everyone's got something they're bad at. That's poetry for me.
"You can always get better," the voice inside my head reminds me. It's her. Well, it's me, but it's the person I am inside my head. Fortunately, I have her. She's good at comforting me and picking me up when I start beating myself up. She's really smart too, and always has great ideas, "You need to focus. You know your learning style. You know what the teacher expects from you. If he can't teach you, why don't you teach yourself?"
I feel a little better. I'm still scared of that classroom, but I feel better about myself. I smile a bit. She's right. I'm right. I know what needs to be done, and I know the best way to teach myself. I don't want to drop this class, but I can't let it hurt my GPA.
"I'll do better," I promise myself and by the time I get to my car I'm feeling better.