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"Dropping" by Christine Stoddard

"Dropping" by Christine Stoddard

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Published by Christine Stoddard
A short story about a nervous, over-achieving high school student's experience during her first art gallery internship. Learn more about Christine and her creative projects at www.christinestoddard.com.
A short story about a nervous, over-achieving high school student's experience during her first art gallery internship. Learn more about Christine and her creative projects at www.christinestoddard.com.

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Published by: Christine Stoddard on Oct 14, 2009
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12/07/2009

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"Dropping" By Christine Stoddard

My supervisor, Florence, charged straight at me, gripping a tub full of green colored pencils. I could've smelled the stale sweat on her from two feet away even if I didn't have her greasy, foggy eyeglasses to tip me off. Her forehead crumpled like a wad of old paper. Wrinkles so prominent that they appeared drawn-on framed her thin lips. Her over-sized black sweater and her strategically gelled curls made her look like a spiteful bull. And no ordinary bull, either, but a rabid one who was mistakenly entered into la corrida, anyway. I somehow observed all of these details despite the speed at which she ran at me; I perceived her actions in slow motion. "This is you, Allie!" she shouted. Florence snapped out of her elegant gait. Then she darted straight across the gallery's floor, tangling her legs in her fervent scurrying. Panting, she jerked back and forth. The colored pencils jumped around in the tub with each of her movements. Periodically, she touched her hair. A few times, she pushed up her glasses so they would return to the bridge of her nose. She breathed through her ugly mouth. Overall, she looked small, frazzled, and vulnerable, like I should take her into my hand and stroke her to calm her down. Maybe then her heavy breathing and repulsive twitching would end. Her behavior detracted so much from the bright collages then on display that it wasn't until I walked through the place a week later that I even noticed what they depicted: kangaroos on jackhammers in Sydney construction sites. Florence's imitation of a nervous, awkward sixteen-year-old girl interning at an art gallery for the first time probably only lasted a minute...if you weren't the object of mockery. I stared at Florence for an eternity, finally recognizing my own reflection. I studied her anxiousness and knew that I experienced that same anxiousness every second of my suburban teenage existence. The words of a boy I once loved--"You take yourself too seriously"--echoed in my mind. I gazed down at my bitten nails and frayed jeans. Bitten nails are always a sign of nervous energy, but frayed jeans, not necessarily so. I had never thought before that the reason my jeans frayed so soon after I bought them was because I always shuffled. I always shuffled because I was always in a hurry. I was always in a hurry because I always felt rushed, like I could never escape the pressure to be on time and perform perfectly. Florence suddenly came to a halt and jolted the tub so that all of the colored pencils flew into the air. They came plummeting down. When they all hit the floor, they sounded like a rainstick. Then she exclaimed, "Relax, Allie!" She threw out her arms and held them in the air for

a few moments. Embarrassed, I plopped down at the front desk and pulled out a notepad. "I will," I muttered, "I will." "No," Florence said, as she drifted toward my chair. "Don't say it like that. Say it with conviction." I put down my pen. "I will," I said slightly more confidently. "Not quite. Put that pen down. You don't always have to work. You don't always have to be first. You're in high school for God's sake. What's the deadline?" I cleared my throat and murmured, "I want to go somewhere someday." Florence lined up her face right up to mine and whispered, "You're never going to get somewhere someday if you're not here now." I nodded. "So," she continued after a beat, "Are you ready to relax?" After seeing that unfavorable portrayal, the answer was clear. "Yes," I rang, "I'm ready." Her middle-age face broke out into a smile. "Good. Now you can begin right after you pick up those colored pencils." I laughed, but this time the laugh didn't erupt out of nervousness. Then I hugged the woman I thought I hated.

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