"The Coat Of Courage"
I stand in line, waiting.
It used to be that I'd stand and wait to be served, to draw my money out without passing a glance and be on my way.
Now it feels like so much more than that.
I'm waiting for an opportunity, for my moment, my time.
Days come and go but my moment never comes, never stands shoulder to shoulder with me, to whisper in my ear, 'Just ask her.'
But maybe there won't be a sign, something physical, something real.
Maybe it's a feeling.
Maybe I won't know until it has gone.
Maybe - my number is called.
My lucky number.
Maybe this is the sign.
I approach the desk.
Asks how I am.
Ask her back, stupid.
She counts out my money.
Hands it to me.
She looks at me with those piercing blue eyes.
She does not recognise me, "Have a nice day."
My moment has passed.
I walk out into the cold November morning, the frosty air siezing my face.
I take a deep breath.
All it takes is a little self-belief.
A little bit of courage.
What was it she used to say?
It was so much more than that.
'The Coat Of Courage'.
The on thing more than anything that released me from my shell, gave me the strength to face the challenges that lay ahead of me, to overcome any boundaries.
Primary school christmas play.
I was chosen to play the lead, King Herod, in an effort to bring me out of my shell.
I couldn't do it.
Those first rehearsala, the bright spotlights that cast gloomy shadows over the audience's faces, highlighting their eyes.
Just staring at me watching, waiting.
I ran home crying to Mom, told her I couldn't do it, I couldn't stand the pressure.
She knelt downin front of me, gently brushed her hand down my forehead telling me to close my eyes...
"Close your eyes. Now picture yourself on that stage. You have your costume on, your crown is on your head. You're looking from the audience. You can see yourself, nervous, scared. Now you're on the stage, looking out. You put a coat on. Not just any coat - this is a special coat. It's invisible, and no one else can see it but you, no one else can feel it but you. It's 'The Coat Of Courage'. When you wear it my son, it makes you strong, brave and fearless. It makes you whatever you want to be."
Mom would motion over my shoulders putting on the 'The Coat Of Courage".
The smell of her perfume surrounded me.
The coat was on, and I felt it change me.
I opened my eyes, a new boy.
For the rest of the day I wore 'The Coat Of Courage', only taking it off after I came off stage.
I kept it.
I knew it was my secret weapon, what I'd need again one day.
It was time to dust it off.
I stood outside the bank wearing 'The Coat Of Courage'.
It was now or never.
As I walked in 'I can do this'.
All my life I had been afraid to take a risk.
I stood in the queue.
There she sat, smiling brightly, her eyes the colour of summer sky.
I approached the cash desk.
I felt different.
My posture, my eyeline, everything about me felt different.
I was a presence.
She spoke to me, her usual 'by the numbers' customer service.
Then she looked at me...
I looked her square in the eyes.
This time she noticed me.
She spoke, 'It's Joe right?'
She didn't read it from the screen.
Realising this, I squeezed the inside of my coat pockets for support.
I spoke back, our conversation flowed, I made her laugh.
My courage shone through me and made me stronger.
I loosened my grip on the coat.
As I turned to leave I siezed my opportuninty, not knowing when the next moment would occur.
Using everything the coat had to give me, I asked her to meet me sometime.
She agreed, giving me an honest wave and smile.
I stepped out into the street, a reinvigorated man, I thankfully wrapped my arms around the coat.
I knew I had it inside.