‘And she goes head over heels…’
Ezme bounds off the stairs to the stage, blushing and grinning furiously too.
Groups of girls and boys wander out the auditorium, happily chatting now the ‘most boring annual event’ is over for another year.
Several groups convene to hug and offer encouragement to the competitors, but only ours is there for Ezme. She receives many embraces, including an enveloping bear-hug from Emma, who has shot up over the summer, now a head taller than the rest of us. And, Ezme, being the shortest –and most dainty- creature here, is lost temporarily in the fur that is Emma’s bright blonde waves!
“A standing ovation!” She giggles.
Ezme herself is glowing, the blush giving her cheeks a rosy hue, and her eyes shining with the amazement and joy that she had done the song well.
Others pass by in a rush; they give no indication that they appreciate Ezme’s performance. Some teachers (including Mr. Beech) give the girl small smiles or one word of congratulations but, it seems, there is no-one but us there to give Ezme her trophy of joyous words.
One of the emo year-11s walks up. It seems we have influenced then to be more open about who they really are.
“It was good when I could hear you singing, otherwise I only heard the voice from the recording,” Madeline smiles through her black lip-gloss. She isn’t much of a bully, just a good acquaintance to Ezme, and one who can’t help but tell the truth.
“Oh,” Ezme says as she smiles in return. As Madeline walks away we notice Ezme’s smile drop quicker than a lead balloon.
“Ezzie…” Nikkie approaches Ezme timidly, looking all grown-up in her year eight dancer’s costume: bouffant hair with make-up caressing her gentle features and fine jewels clinging comfortably to her large frame.
Ezme looks up; looks straight through the sister, as though she is a projected image or shadow, Ezme’s face a poor picture of that momentary joy she had had minutes before.
Her round lips move, but from where we are standing we cannot hear a word. We move closer as Ezme moves away.
The words “I’m a fake” leave her pretty lips, over and over again as she passes away from us, slowly traversing the steady stairs up to her form room. Slow like someone who has just lost a family member; lost part of their life, their livelihood.
She doesn’t look back.