“The panel will see you now.”
I rose slowly, my eyes following the menacing fella in front of me for a few steps. I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my life. I began after him, shoulders down, neck slumped, walking with my peculiar rolling stride.
When we came to the stage door, I stopped dead in my tracks, sighed, and ran my fingers through my disheveled red hair.
This was the panel that would decide if I could go back home or not. Pretty much, my life as I knew it depended on myself and my presentation.
I took a few deep breaths and walked into the blinding stage-lights.
I peered into the house.
A dozen or more stern-looking men were scattered throughout the seats, gazing expectantly at me.
They stared at me. And for a while, or what felt like a while, I stared back.
People back home used to tell me I was the master of the pause.
I prayed to God that they were right.
I stood there, transfixed on the darkness of the house, for a full minute.
And then I began to talk.