Chapter 8: Show

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The month of November is crazy. The whole high school gets involved in the big event supporting Fátima. It seems people just needed a dose of injustice to shake off the cobwebs of their mundane lives, and they're really going for it. People stop us in the hallway, in the entrance or in the lunchroom to ask us about Fátima. An organizing committee is created to take charge of the event—needless to say who the president and vice-president are. Nico isn't in on the fun; he finally dropped out and hasn't been back since. They let us onto the committee and take part in meetings at least. The event gets so prestigious even the school board gets involved. Which means a teacher is present in most of the meetings. This makes the atmosphere different to before, everything, on the surface, seems to be respectful, inclusive, and egalitarian.

In the final meeting, just a week before, the committee decides to call the event the event the Day Against Forced Marriage: We Stand with Fátima, and we've just finalized the content and order of the day. Sandra, Gonzalo, Paul, Natalia, Lucia, Mario, Jaime, Juan and I. The vice-principal proudly chairs the meeting:

"On behalf of the principal and the teaching staff, we would like to congratulate you all for this very supportive initiative. Students like you make us proud and you have our full support for next week's event," she declares.

"It's a privilege to study at a school like ours, which from the beginning has offered its support to a classmate suffering a terrible injustice,"

Sandra says solemnly.

"We've prepared the event with a lot of care and dedication. We believe that the first step towards promoting rights is to raise awareness, so we didn't want to miss this opportunity," adds Gonzalo.

Sandra address everyone again, as if giving a sermon:

"Everybody here has played an important role in this event. We've worked long and hard for this and we can assure you that everything is under control and on track to run as smoothly as possible. We know a city councilor is coming and that this, in a way, makes the day even more of a challenge."

"I have no doubt you'll do a fantastic job, Sandra and Gonzalo, and your humane, philanthropic spirit is clear to see," praises the vice-principal.

"If it's alright with you guys, let's explain everybody's individual roles and the current situation. Do you want to start, Paula?" suggests Gonzalo.

"Well, we currently have 344 students down as attending. If we add to that the faculty members and the councilor, that's a total of 351 attendees, so we've reserved the auditorium."

"The event will start at four o'clock in the afternoon, after classes, with a welcome speech from Sandra and Gonzalo, as the organizers and promoters of the initiative. Afterwards, more words, if that's all right, and finally, a contribution from the councilor," Paula continues.

"Sounds fantastic. Don't forget the councilor speaks first, and then me.

The welcome shouldn't last more than thirty minutes," Paula adds.


"Next, we're going to show a video about the reality of forced marriages around the world. It lasts about forty minutes and gives an overview of this devastating issue. Sadly, more than twelve million girls are forced into marriage every year. We should all be made aware of these figures and do all we can to fight against it," adds Sandra with an excessively pained face.

"How awful," laments the vice-principal.

"Mario, Juan and I are in charge of the technical side of things: projection, lights, sound..." says Jaime.

"Once the projection is over, there will be a short break. With the money we've collected, we can cover the cost of snacks for everyone. We've raised 577 euros," says Lucía proudly.

"That's impressive, guys. I am really proud of you,"

repeats the vice-principal.

Juan and I all listen knowing it's all nothing more than a performance, and maybe it's at that precise moment I realize that life is often like that: a performance. Juan and I are in the audience absorbed by the masterful acting skills of the absolute monarchy: model students, supportive, humane.

"And of course we've saved the best for last: Fátima's video," says Sandra. "Our classmates have already spoken to her and she's been able to film a short video thanking us all for what we're doing and asking for our help to return to Spain. Right, Judith?"

"That's right, Sandra. At first, we thought she could connect live to the event, but as the internet connection in her village is unstable we decided it was better to record a video."

"Can we see the video beforehand?" asks the vice-principal.

"Well, it's the icing on the cake of the event, we'd really like it to be a surprise. Everybody here knows Fátima, it's done very sensitively. What she says inspirational and a call to action, which is the most important thing."

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