“Hmm.” She tapped her finger on her lips. “Everyone’s had a crush on someone, right? It wouldn’t be the most embarrassing revelation in the world. Could you find something like that?”
I thought about it. I really did not want to stand up in front of total strangers—or worse, former classmates—and get laughed at, but Aida was right that an admission of a decade-old crush on a boy in a college class wasn’t the worst thing I might reveal. Besides, everyone had a crush on pretty boy Tristan back in the day. That might work well for this kind of contest.
“Would that be enough to win the prize?” And a guaranteed trip to Germany.
“Why don’t we forget about the prize, okay? I’m more interested in helping you work through your anxiety.”
Right. My forced therapy. “I just don’t see how muscling through one reading will achieve that.”
She bit her lip. “Okay, so here’s the deal. It’s not a one-night contest. It’s an elimination-style competition. Like American Idol.”
“Oh.” That changed things considerably. I just wanted the money, but I couldn’t imagine doing this week after week. Staying home and playing Undertale on the genocide route was sounding better and better.
Aida stood, one hand bracing her back. “Look. It’s right up the street. Let’s just go check it out.”
When she left, I skimmed the journal, hunting for something safe and boring. I didn’t believe reading something embarrassing was going to magically cure me. Nor was I going to win a weeks-long contest. But as Mr. Shepherd, my cross-country coach, used to say, “Running begins, not with the feet, but with the mind.” Maybe just preparing to do the contest, imagining myself succeeding, would be therapeutic on its own.
I took a deep breath and pretended I was actually going to go through with it.