The teacher said we were going to have a talent show and I didn’t have any talent. I thought of what I could do but it wasn’t much. The students who were going to perform were singers and dancers, the type of kids where snow wouldn’t fall on them during blizzards. I stepped out from underneath a snow bank and said I wanted to do something. The teacher said I missed auditions but they needed judges. But the judges also had to have a talent that they’d demonstrate during the show. I thought being a judge would be even better, but I couldn’t sing or dance or anything. I had a ventriloquist dummy at home that I never used. I tried to make it talk but it was impossible without moving my lips. I said that I could do ventriloquism and she said congratulations, I would be a judge. Apparently she was overloaded with singing and dancing and needed something, anything different.
On the day of the show, they set all the judges up at a table and then all the parents started filing in. I didn’t know parents were going to be there. I hadn’t invited mine. I got real nervous, like I’d started a kitchen fire and they were all coming to blame me. With the classroom packed, they introduced all of the judges and I just bowed my head. Then we had the singing and the dancing and it all crashed in front of my eyeballs with me watching students who couldn’t really sing and who could kind of dance and the applause was small and kind and we graded them and I just constantly gave a good average unforgettable score by holding up a card and saying nothing.
After it was all over, a girl in the class came up and said, “How come you never said anything?” I asked what she meant and she said, “I’m not asking why you didn’t say anything. I’m asking why you brought a ventriloquist dummy and just held it in your lap. It frightened everyone.” The teacher turned off the lights and everyone left and I went back to the classroom and stood in its dark, a limp ventriloquist dummy clutched dead in my hand.