Sucking in a breath, I wait for the explosion to come.
The hissed whispers, mocking me for my flaws. The cold glare that looks right through me, prodding me with questions.
"Who do you think you are? Why are you even here?"
He wants to say the words but catches himself, unlike me with my mistakes. But in his mind, he is always the better person.
Then comes the fallout, the verbal beating that I knew I deserved. The crushing truth which was only a little overexagerated, but in a team like this, we all knew there was no room for error.
"I'm not afraid to cut people from the part," he says, tone like an branding iron.
I look down, trying to hide my face of shame from the others; I wasn't the onl;y one who messed up, this I know. But what does it matter? I've let myself become a focal point for mess ups, I've attracted their attention.
Here, we put on the image of a happy, close-knit family, but don't let that fool you. They come alive at the scent of blood, sharks looking for the easiest way to strike.
Even though I know their predicatable ways too well, I couldn't imagine my life without color guard.
That night, I go home, flag in tow. It's just the same as the rest.
I practice until I want to cry, my feet ache and my soles are bleeding. The tough skin on my hands has been rubbed raw, and the rest is cracked.
I have a headache, and everything is a little blurry. There are bruises on every slab of skin, little reminders of my previous failure.
But he told me to practice, so I did.
He told me to be consistant, so I did.
The next day at practice, I grin as bright as I could muster. I put more energy into this than I have before, hoping, praying, he'll notice.
Instead, he calls out from the box.
"You were too fast on that last bit. The toss wasn't high enough. Didn't I tell you to practice?"
And I knew that I could have expected nothing less than that from him, but still, every day, I work until I cannot take it anymore.
Nothing ever changes. Nothing's good enough.
I'm not good enough.
I'm wondering why I try at all.