“Now, I’d like to present the award for Female Resident Student of the Year,” announced a voice I recognized as Michelle’s. “The Resident Assistants chose the recipient from among all of our on-campus girls.”
I wonder who they picked, I thought distractedly, a lot more concerned about the algebra final looming over my head.
Everyone was assembled for the second to last chapel service of the year. The staff of Student Services was onstage presenting awards in various categories. The past twenty-five minutes had been a jumble of flowery speeches, applause, and stage crossings. RAs had been honored, and various students had received awards for excelling in specific academic or athletic pursuits. Several staff members had been recognized for their support of student organizations.
“The award goes to Carmella Broome.”
I sat frozen for a moment, unable to believe what I’d just heard. My heart began to pound as the auditorium erupted into applause. I knew I should be thrilled, but all I felt was a sense of dread. How was I going to handle this? I had to make my way to the stage to accept the award, and I didn’t have my cane with me. I considered turning around to ask David for help, but I wanted to go
by myself. I’d been up there before. There were steps and cords, and probably podiums and chairs. I could trip or run into something and really embarrass myself in front of all these people. I might fall down the stairs or step right off the edge of the stage. Was I familiar enough with the stage to chance negotiating it without help? Deciding that I was, I got up and, trying not to step
on anyone’s feet, made my way toward the center aisle.
“God,” I begged silently as I walked toward the stage, “I know I’m being really stupid, but please help me get around up there.”
Climbing the steps, I was relieved to hear Reverend Crouse’s low instructions. “Watch these cords. Good. It’s a straight shot.”
I walked forward into the brightness of the spotlights, mentally coaching myself to keep my head up and not shuffle my feet.
“Here I am,” Michelle whispered, placing a plaque in my hands. “Congratulations. Look to your left a little so they can take your picture for the paper.”
I turned my head and smiled. The camera flashed. Amidst another round of applause and cheers, I turned to make my way back across the stage. Now came the hardest part. How was I going to find that top step? I slowed down when I neared where I knew the steps to be, probing the area with my foot. I felt Reverend Crouse’s hand on my arm. “There’s the step,” he murmured.
“Thank you,” I whispered, descending the steps carefully.
Thrilled that I’d made it down from the stage without incident or embarrassment, I turned up the center aisle and counted rows until I reached the sixth one. Trying not to step on anyone’s feet once again, I counted my way past the first seven chairs. As I sank gratefully into my assigned chapel seat, thankful that I hadn’t miscalculated and wound up in someone’s lap, I felt a gentle touch on my shoulder. David’s voice whispered, “Congratulations.”
With the ordeal of accepting the award behind me, I was finally able to turn my attention to the plaque Michelle had placed in my shaking hands. No one could possibly guess how much it meant to me. I had no idea what it said, but that didn’t matter. The public recognition wasn’t what made it so special, though that was certainly nice. To me, the plaque’s truest value was what it
represented. It was a tangible symbol of success. I had done something I hadn’t been sure I really could do. I’d successfully completed my first year of college.
Copyright © 2008 Carmella Broome
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of the publisher. Published by Red Letter Press 6148 Rutledge Hill Columbia, SC 29209
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Control Number: 2008930745