Freshman Speech

Saved by the Bell

Tell us about a time when you managed to extract yourself from a sticky situation at the very last minute


Sara was a nervous wreck.  Her freshman speech class in college was getting under way, and she wasn’t ready.  She’d had to work a couple of extra shifts at the grocery store.  She’d spent too much time with Jim, who was a lot more fun than memorizing an oration. She simply wasn’t prepared, had not memorized her piece, and she could almost feel the cloud of doom that was about to drop on her head.

You just didn’t walk into Mr. B’s speech class unprepared. Not ever.

She  was thankful to be sitting behind a great big football player. She wanted nothing more than to be invisible. She slumped down in her seat, making herself as small as she could, and kept her head down. Her curtain of dark brown hair hid her face. Her heart raced, her stomach churned.

See, Sara was really very good at this kind of thing.  She’d been in plays in high school, and had always gotten rave reviews.  She enjoyed performing, rarely suffered from stage fright.  But that was because she’d always been ready.

Today, she wasn’t.

“So,” said Mr. B, “Who’s going to volunteer to get us started this morning?  Mr. Jensen?  Good!  Go ahead.”

Steve Jensen walked with confidence to the podium, and delivered his beautifully memorized oration without stumbling. Grinning like a chesire cat, he took his seat to a big round of applause.

The assignment had been to choose among several well-known orations; some were from Shakespeare, others from political characters or famous historical events. Sara had chosen  The Charge of the Light Brigade, loving the opportunity for drama. She knew she could do it justice, if only she’d spent more time memorizing it.

Several more students rose to perform, and the clock kept ticking.  Only ten more minutes before the bell, and still several had not done their recitations.

“Okay, class, we’re running out of time here.  I see there are five of you who have done your best to be invisible this morning.  You’ll be up first tomorrow, Julie. And Sara, you’ll be second. All right, class dismissed.”

As the bell rang, Sara felt as limp as an old rose. She was so relieved she was trembling.  Mr. B. caught her eye as she left the classroom, his blank face letting her know that he was on to her.

“I’ll know it cold by tomorrow,” she promised herself. “No extra work shifts today, no Jim time.  Nothing at all until I get this thing memorized!”

She’d been saved by the bell.


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