Caught up in the moment, Cassie Logan does something that she shouldn't have even thought about. She kisses her teacher. In front of the entire school.
Nerves pulse through my body. The girl who’d just sang – she’d been amazing. Pure, smooth, pitch perfect opera. How am I supposed to compete with that? It’s as if I can’t breathe. My chest feels tight. My legs; they feel like they’re going to give way. I can’t stop shaking. It’s just a school talent show, I tell myself. Nothing important.
A reassuring hand is places on my shoulder. It’s firm and confident but soft at the same time. My heartbeat quickens – I’m sent into overdrive. But not from nerves.
“And please welcome our last act: Cassie Logan singing Innocence by Avril Lavigne!” They’re calling my name. It’s my name. I’m up. My turn. It’s make it or break it.
“Good luck,” somebody whispers as I stand behind the stage curtains, shaking in my shoes. I’ve not performed before – not in front of a crowd of five hundred people anyway. “Just sing it like we practised. It’ll be okay.”
I can’t open my mouth to reply. I don’t even know who’s speaking to me. I can’t make out what they’re saying. The host beckons me to take the stage. His pearly white teeth are permanently stretched into a wide grin. It irritates me. Somebody pushes lightly on my shoulders. I take a step forward. Blurred faces greet me, cheering, waving their arms. What do I do? I can’t hide. Not now.
Taking centre stage on my unstable legs, I put my hand on the microphone. It’s warm, but it doesn’t sooth me. The music starts.
“Wa-aking up I see tha-at everythi-ing is oka-ay, the first ti-ime in my life and no-ow it’s so-o gre-eat.” The words – they won’t come out properly. They’re broken up, like a CD that won’t work properly. I lose my place. What comes next?
“Slowing down I look around and I am so amazed, I think about the little things that make life great…” The voice is beautiful. Soft notes, smooth, calm and experienced. Not mine.
“I wouldn't change a thing about it, this is the best feeling.” And then I see who it is – and I am shocked. My mouth – it drops open. I gasp. He nods, smiling. I take a deep breath, and we sing. It’s as simple as that.
“This innocence is brilliant, I hope that it will stay. This moment is perfect, please don't go away. I need you now and I'll hold on to it, don't you let it pass you by.”
Our voices blend together like the most of beautiful of sounds. As I start the next verse, he stops singing, letting me lose myself in the words. I don’t care anymore. I don’t remember where I am. It’s just me, and him. Back in the classroom. Practising.
“I found a place so safe, not a single tear. The first time in my life and now it's so clear.Feel calm, I belong, I'm so happy here. It's so strong and now I let myself be sincere. I wouldn't change a thing about it, this is the best feeling.”
He moves steps closer to me, slowly. We sing the chorus again, but this time I feel it. The way my heart beats as if I’m never going to feel like this again. I take the microphone from the stand so I’m free. We’re face to face. For the first time, I really see him.
“It's a state of bliss, you think you're dreaming. It's the happiness inside that you're feeling. It's so beautiful it makes you wanna cry.”
His hand is on my hip. I feel warm, happy. Nerves – they’ve left me. When I sing – it feels like I’ve never sang before in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever sang better. I look right in his eyes. They’re so blue, so calm. This is tranquility – right here. Now. It’s all about this moment.
Our faces are close. So close. I can see the scar just above his eyebrow. I can see the way his lips curve. I can see the green tint in his eyes. And all of a sudden, we’re not singing.
The kiss is soft, tender. Loving. Beautiful. Magical. I can’t think of any more words to describe it. My thoughts are blank. My whole mind is blank. The music stops.
When we break away, no applause greets our performance. Silence. That’s all I can hear. Pure, simple silence.
And then the uproar begins. People shout. I don’t know what they’re saying. I look towards him. His face mirrors mine. Shock. Confusion. But no regret.
I just kissed my teacher.
This innocence is brilliant.
I hope that it will stay.