JULIA JONES - My Worst Day Ever! - Book 1: aged 9 - 12 (7 page)

 
Overwhelmed…

 

“Oh, Julia!” Sara wailed, as she headed in
my direction. “I just heard about your accident. Will you be able to dance
tonight?”

“Yes, I’ll be fine,” I abruptly assured
her.

“Are you sure?” she asked, exhibiting what
looked like a semblance of sympathy. “I wondered if you might be out of action!
That would be such a terrible shame after all your hard work.”

“Nothing will keep me off that stage
tonight, Sara!” I declared in a determined voice.

“I thought it would have to be something
terrible for you not to perform,” Sara responded. “After all, you’re pretty
much the star of the show, of the dancing segments, anyway.”

“Sara you have the lead role in our dance
now, but regardless, it’s a team effort and I think everyone will be stars
tonight,” I stated firmly.

I really wasn’t in the mood for her games
and hidden meanings. I just wanted to focus on getting organized and right
then, I had a splitting headache and a really stiff and sore knee.

“By the way,” Sara added. “Miss Fitz wants
to see you. It’s about the headbands for the girls’ hair that you were meant to
bring with you today.”

“The headbands?” I asked, a sinking feeling
forming in the pit of my stomach.

“Yeah,” Sara replied. “Remember I gave you
the message from Miss Fitz yesterday afternoon? She arranged for your neighbor
to do some last minute sewing and you were meant to bring them with you to
school today.”

“Sara, I don’t remember you telling me
that,” I said, looking at her in complete puzzlement.

“You’d better go and see Miss Fitz,” she
replied. “She’s freaking out in there because a lot of people haven’t followed
through with various commitments that they’re responsible for. Miss Fitz and Miss
Sheldon are complaining that some of the committee members should have been
more organized.”

Approaching her office apprehensively, I
could see as I entered that Miss Fitz appeared quite stressed. “Miss Fitz,” I
stammered hesitatingly. “Sara said that you wanted to see me.”

“Julia, please tell me that you brought
those head pieces to school with you today?” We need them to keep the girls’
hair pinned back. That dance that you choreographed for them has their hair
flopping around everywhere and this is the last finishing touch.”

“I know they need them, Miss Fitz but I
wasn’t aware that I was responsible for collecting them.”

Just as she was about to take a deep breath
and probably let fly with an angry retort, I asked if I could use the phone to call
my mom. “She should be able to call in and pick them up,” I explained
hopefully.

“OK, and please be quick, there’s still
lots to do!”

Sighing with relief, I put the phone down a
few minutes later. Mom had agreed to get the head pieces. I just prayed that
our neighbor was at home. I knew that she usually headed off to visit her
sister on Friday afternoons and often stayed there for dinner. But hopefully
she might have left them out for someone to collect.

I crossed my fingers and sneaked out of the
office, deciding that I should stay out of the way of my drama teacher. But I
understood how stressful the whole situation was. Organizing something that was
the magnitude of our school musical was a mammoth task and any number of things
could go wrong.

Thinking again of Sara’s words, I tried to
recall her mentioning the message the day before but had no memory of it
whatsoever. “Am I really becoming that forgetful?” I wondered. “Or is there
just too much on my mind right now?”

As I thought about it some more,
desperately searching through my memory banks, I could not bring myself to recollect
Sara giving me the message from Miss Fitz.

Looking in Sara’s direction, I could see
her in a corner of the hall, laughing with Blake and some of the other boys.
They were obviously enjoying her company and she was definitely thriving on the
attention they were giving her.

She must have felt my eyes on her because she
abruptly glanced my way and then with a little smirk, turned her back on me to
refocus on the group of boys once more.

A feeling of doubt started to weave its way
through my mind and tingles of apprehension began to build. Trying to force the
worried thoughts away, I headed towards Millie and a group of other girls who
were busy with the list of jobs that still had to be done.

Still absorbed in my thoughts, I failed to
notice a wooden box that had been left lying in the middle of the floor. It was
only small and the tawny brown color blended in with the floorboards beneath
it. I didn’t realize it was there until it was too late and I felt myself
suddenly being propelled into mid-air. Desperately trying to regain my balance,
I let out a loud yelp. This is something I have a bad habit of doing and rather
than avoiding attention, it always alerts everyone around me. Of course, this
occasion, was no different from any other and my squeal of fright drew all eyes
towards me.

Landing heavily on top of the box, I could
not stop the tears that began to flow down my cheeks. The humiliation and
embarrassment of everyone staring at me and rushing to see if I was ok, was
just too much to bear; that and the sharp pain that was added to my already
throbbing leg. But the worst part of all was Sara’s voice over all the others,
“Oh my gosh, Julia! What is wrong with you today? I hope you don’t fall over in
our dance tonight! Are you sure you’re going to be alright to perform?”

Throwing a black look in her direction, I
didn’t trust myself to reply for fear of bursting into a crying fit and
embarrassing myself even more.

As Millie helped me to my feet and then to
a nearby chair, the feeling of overwhelm that had engulfed me was like a
bottomless pit I was frantically trying to climb out of.

The day I had been looking forward to for
so long, had gone from bad to worse and I desperately hoped that no more terrible
things would happen!

A Math Comp, of all things…

 

“You’ll be fine, Julia,” Millie said in her
usual cheery voice. “Everything will go perfectly well tonight, you just wait
and see!” I looked gratefully at my friend,
very much
wanting
her to be right.

I had no time to focus on it any further
though as there was still so much to do and to add to that, some of us had to
be back in class straight after the morning tea break. A group of kids from our
grade had been selected to enter a state-wide Math competition which just
happened to be scheduled for the same day as the musical. This had been an
oversight by our teacher who hadn’t realized that the musical was also on that
day. But because she had arranged for the school to pay the administration fee
for each of the entrants, we were expected to be there. She gave us the
condition that if we wanted to have the day off class to help out with the
musical, then we had to do the Math comp.  

“It’s not fair,” complained Millie as we
hurried to the classroom where the competition was to be held. “This wasn’t our
choice! Why couldn’t it just be left to all the math nerds in our grade? Why
did they have to include us as well?”

“I think they were short of kids to enter,”
I replied. “But Math is my worst subject. I can’t figure out why they chose
me.”

“Even though it’s your worst subject,
you’re still good at it!” Millie exclaimed. “Better than me, anyway!”

“I thought this day couldn’t get any
worse!” That was the last thought in my mind before I sat down to focus on the
paper in front of me. Rolling my eyes and sighing with impatience, I decided
just to do the work and get it finished as soon as possible. We had planned one
last rehearsal with our dance troupe and I was keen to get back to the buzzing
excitement in the hall. Attempting to ignore my throbbing leg as well as the pain
coming from the lump on my head, I looked down towards the Math questions on my
desk and tried to concentrate.

Can things get any worse?…

 

Rushing back to the hall afterwards, Millie
and I complained about the hard Math questions that had been included, especially
towards the very end. The last few were so complicated.

“I skipped several of them,” I admitted.
“They were way too hard! And I’m certainly not looking forward to getting my
result, that’s for sure! If we’re ever asked to do one of those competitions again,
I’m just going to refuse!”

Millie agreed with me but on entering the
hall, we quickly put the Math comp behind us. The seating and decorations were
finally all in place and Miss Sheldon was directing a group of kids on the
stage who were having a last minute rehearsal. I scanned the hall, looking for
all the members of our dance troupe so that we could also have a final
rehearsal. We’d been discussing it that morning and had planned to meet up just
after the lunch break, but they were nowhere to be seen.

“Maybe they’re all out the back or in the dressing
rooms. I’ll race out and have a look.” I watched Millie head off to look for
them and just as I was about to search the adjoining rehearsal room, Miss
Sheldon called me over. “Julia!” she said, “Just the person I was looking for!”

“Yes, Miss?” I replied questioningly.

“I’d like you to come with me. The junior
girls need a last minute practice and I also need you to help me with the Grade
Five item. There’s still kids who could do with some extra help and I think one
more run through is really going to benefit them.”

The look of dismay on my face must have
been obvious. “Aren’t you feeling well?” she queried. “Is your leg a problem?
Perhaps you shouldn’t be at home resting it!”

“Oh no,” I replied
quickly. “My leg is fine.” There was no way I was going to tell her that it was
actually quite painful. If I did, I was worried that she’d ban me from
performing.

“I was just going
to have a last rehearsal with the kids in my dance group,” I tried to explain,
but her stressed expression prevented me from continuing. “It’s ok, though! I
know the dance really well, they can just go ahead without me.”

Trying to sound convincing, I followed her
into the rehearsal room where the group of junior girls were waiting. I thought
anxiously of Millie and the others, knowing they would be wondering where I was
but I didn’t dare leave to go and tell them. Miss Sheldon was a great teacher,
but when she was stressed or angry, we all knew we just had to be quiet and do
as we were told.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long to get the junior
girls in order and by the second run through, they had pretty much perfected
the mistakes they’d been making. With a huge sigh I then moved onto the Grade
Five kids, many of whom were racing crazily around the hall by that stage.
There were some pretty hyperactive boys in that group and they could not sit
still, let alone follow instructions and it took all my strength not to start
yelling at them to stand still and listen. I was relieved when Miss Sheldon
came over and told them off. That finally managed to calm them down and we were
able to run through their entire item.

Just as we finished and I was about to go
and look for Millie and the others, I heard an unmistakable voice. “Julia,
where have you been?” We’ve been working our butts off trying to get our dance
perfect and you didn’t even bother to show up! Do you want our dance to be a
success or not?”

The uncomfortable looks on the faces of all
the others, just added to my humiliation. “I had to help Miss Sheldon,” I tried
to explain.

“Yeah, right!” I could feel my face turning
bright red at Sara’s abrupt remarks. “You’re such a teacher’s pet! You’ll do
anything to get on side with the teachers, even if it means letting your team
down. Unbelievable!” And with a flick of her long blonde hair, she strode off
towards the change rooms.

I looked towards Millie who just rolled her
eyes and said, “Don’t worry about her, Julia. You know the dance so well, we’ll
be great tonight, let’s just go and get ready.”

Feeling upset for what seemed like the
umpteenth time that day, I slowly walked towards the change room door. I knew
that the junior school kids were opening the show and I needed to be back stage
to help them into their costumes. Taking a deep breath, I tried to muster some
enthusiasm as I entered the bustling room that was filled with girls at
different stages of preparation.

I suddenly looked at my watch. Seeing a few
girls in the midst of getting their hair and make-up done, reminded me of the
missing head bands and I anxiously hoped that my mother would make it in time.
The girls were expecting to wear the head pieces and apart from the decorative
effect they created, they really were needed to help keep their hair tied back.
With the throbbing in my head becoming worse, I walked over to the dressing
area to assist the remaining girls with their costumes and make-up.

When they were finally organized, I decided
I had better get dressed myself. If I didn’t hurry, I would never be ready on
time.

Searching frantically for my back pack, I
scoured the area where I thought I had left it when I had arrived that morning.
My memory of the morning’s events was pretty foggy and I couldn’t remember
exactly where I had placed my bag. The change room was in chaos at that point.
There were girls, teachers and helpers everywhere. Everyone was at different
stages of getting ready and Mrs. Jackson was trying to keep the noise to a
minimum.

“Sssshhhh, girls!” she was saying in a firm
voice. “Please keep your voices down. It is way too noisy in here!”

By that stage, the room was totally frantic
with excitement, the big night had finally arrived and girls in tutus, leotards
and a variety of different costumes were lining up to get their make-up and
hair done. I thought fleetingly about the head pieces for the younger girls and
looked with concern at the clock on the wall, hoping that my mom would soon arrive.

“Millie,” I called, when I spotted her and
the other girls from our dance group assisting each other with applying mascara
and lipstick. “Can you please help me find my bag? I’m sure I left it in here
this morning after getting changed, but I can’t see it anywhere.”

“Julia! I was wondering where you were and look
at you! You’re not even dressed yet. You need to hurry!” Millie’s worried look
made me feel even more anxious.

There were bags and costumes and props
scattered all over the place, it was no wonder I couldn’t see my bag but after
a few minutes of searching, Millie finally handed it to me, “Here it is! I
found it hidden under a pile of gear in that corner over there.”

Frowning, I answered, “I could have sworn I
left it over by the door.”

Millie shook her head and said, “Everything
is such a mess in here. I’m surprised I found it at all!”

Casting my confusion aside, I quickly
rifled through my bag, looking for the hip hop outfit that I had carefully
folded and placed in there the night before, along with my shoes and
accessories. But to my horror, it quickly became obvious that the outfit was
missing.

Pulling everything out, I threw each item
singly onto the floor, desperately hoping that the clothes I needed were hidden
amongst my other bits and pieces. At the bottom of my bag, were my shoes and
the long socks that we had all planned to wear, but there was no sign of the
outfit I was looking for.

“NO!!!” I cried out.

“What’s wrong, Julia?” Jackie had heard my
distressed call and came over to see what the problem was.

“My clothes aren’t in here! But I’m sure I
packed them last night!” I flopped down on the floor, tears springing from my
eyes. The day I had looked forward to for so long had gone from bad to worse.
And I wondered how everything could have gone so terribly wrong.

“Fifteen minutes till show time, girls!” Mrs.
Jackson was calling out. “I will need to start getting you lined up in your
groups, so quickly finish getting ready.

I looked towards Millie and Jackie in
despair. “What am I going to do?” I wailed.

“Julia Jones, aren’t you even dressed yet?”
Mrs. Jackson was looking at me with an expression of incredulity on her face.
“Hurry up! There’s no time to waste!” Shaking her head, she turned her
attention to some younger girls who were trying to pin their hair back.

“Aren’t these girls supposed to be wearing
head pieces?” she asked no one in particular.

I didn’t respond to that, thinking that I
had much more important things to worry about than the girls’ hair. How on
earth was I going to be able to go on stage without my costume?

“What’s wrong, Julia?” Sara’s voice rang in
my ears. “You’re still not dressed! Have you decided not to perform?”

I was sure that her tone was full of
sarcasm but as I turned to face her, I couldn’t help but notice how pretty she
looked. Her glowing blonde hair was slicked back into a high pony tail and the
bright red lipstick adorning her lips, set off her olive complexion
beautifully. She looked so good in the outfit that had been designed for us
all, and I felt overwhelmed with disappointment at the thought of not being
able to take part.

“Julia, you can wear this!” the unexpected sight
of the familiar shimmering blue fabric in Millie’s hands was the answer to my
prayers.

“Oh, Millie! Where did you find it?” I
asked, barely daring to breathe.

“This one belongs to Annie Thompson. When
she broke her leg, she returned it to Miss Sheldon and I spotted it in the
cupboard in her office when I went looking for towels this morning.”

“Oh, my gosh, Millie!” I said gratefully.
“You’re a life saver!”

I glanced in Sara’s direction and noticed
the surprised look on her face. “Looks like I’ll be going on after all, Sara.”
I said in a curt tone and quickly rushed to get changed.

I tried not to think about the throbbing pain
still emanating from my head as well as the gash on my knee. I had pulled the blood
soaked bandage off and although my leg really needed to be covered up, I
couldn’t very well go on stage with a horrible looking bandage wrapped around
it.

By the time I was dressed, there was no
time to worry about make-up. I swiftly tied my hair back into a pony tail and regardless
of the fact that it wasn’t as neat as I would normally like, it would simply
have to do.

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