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Fifty-Two: Talent Contest †

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For the last couple of days, there had been posters plastered and smothered on the walls – also paving the floors from where students had ripped them from the walls and discarded them pointlessly on the floor – about a talent contest.

It was going to be North Vale College's parody of Britain's/America's Got Talent.

News had spread like wildfire around the college and everywhere you went, someone was uttering about it to someone else. You couldn't dare even endeavour to flee from it. There were sign-up sheets in the threshold to the college by the front doors and already a number of people had signed up. I didn't bother to even fleetingly glance at them because I wasn't interested, despite the whole college having to come down and "show their support to their fellow students". I agreed to go with both Johanna and Verity.

"It'll be fun," they both agreed.

Loving someone is fun until they hurt you.

The talent contest was in the evening right after dinner so all day – it was our remaining day of the half-term break – I was finishing up on a little homework in my room. Johanna stayed with me and did some reading between proceeding to snack on her junk food for "revision".

"Exams are going to be rough," she groaned once or twice.

"I hadn't even thought about them," I replied. It was true. Hardly any of the teachers were informing us about them and it was only now where they managed to weave it in once or twice throughout the lesson. Even Coach Kate was being a little secretive.

"Come on, let's go to dinner," Johanna articulated, closing her book and rubbing her eyes.

Because I had only been replying to my parents on an email, I closed my laptop and stuffed it back into the cupboard, standing up hastier than Johanna did. Candidly, she did trip over her own feet when she stood up, dazed and disorientated so I figured I'd take my keys instead of bombarding her with demands. She staggered up to the door and opened it for us.

"You shouldn't read in the day," I said. "Reading makes you tired. And you can barely walk in a straight line."

Johanna scoffed. "I'm fine." And at that moment, walking down the stairs, someone was coming up and Johanna didn't realise. She nearly threw herself into the guy until he sidestepped her and ambled between us. Johanna was flustered by the time we got to the ground floor.

We saw Verity eating on her own in the corner so we joined her as soon as we got our food. She brightened up as soon as she saw us, but there still was a little hesitancy when she glanced at me. I sat down, my eyes focused on the chair but from my peripheral vision, I could see Johanna shaking her head.

"Has something happened?" I asked, plonking myself down. "You just shook your head at Verity."

"No I didn't," protested Johanna quickly, shoving a fork full of mash into her mouth.

I sighed, sagging my shoulders and hunching. "What's going on"? I shoved my fork into my mash.

Verity sighed. "You know the sign-up sheets out there? There's a name that stands out a little..." she trailed off, reluctant to elaborate.

"Jason put his name down," interjected Johanna solemnly. "He's going to be part of the contest."

I was gaping at both Verity and Johanna, too inattentive to worry about the mash that had just plummeted off my fork and onto my fish fillet. "What's his talent?" I questioned, trying to compose myself. "Football as far as I'm concerned..." I answered my own question.

"That's what everyone is trying to guess. They'll all coming up with assumptions. People think he's going to read some of his writing for writing class but I'm not so sure. I don't think he'd do that," debated Johanna.

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