The Talk
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“The Talk,” Friend, Mar. 2000, 32

Fiction:

The Talk

Teach one another (D&C 88:77).

“Time to get up,” Mom called cheerfully. I rolled over and pretended I didn’t hear her. That’s what I do when I don’t want to get up.

Mom didn’t give up. “Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes,” she called. “Anyone who wants to eat had better come downstairs.”

That got my brother going. “Come on,” Devon grunted, giving my bed a shake.

“I’m not hungry,” I muttered.

“Suit yourself.” He put on his robe and headed downstairs.

It was true. I wasn’t hungry. In fact, my stomach kind of ached. I stared at the wall. Maybe I should tell Mom I’m sick, I thought. That’s it—I’m sick and need to stay home.

A few minutes later I got my chance.

“Devon says that you’re not hungry.” Mom sat down on the edge of my bed. “Are you feeling all right?” She put her hand on my forehead. “You don’t feel hot.”

“I’m not sick,” I answered truthfully, “but I don’t feel very good.”

At first mom looked puzzled, then suddenly she understood. “Are you nervous about your talk?”

“I’m not just nervous,” I said. “I was nervous last night when I went to bed. Then I dreamed that when I got up to give my talk I couldn’t find my notes, and I couldn’t remember anything. It was awful!”

Mom shook her head. “I’m sorry that you had a bad dream, but it was just a dream. You’re going to do fine.”

“Can’t we call and say I’m sick?” I asked. But I knew that Mom would never go for it.

“Come have some breakfast,” she said, pulling the blankets off me. “You’ll feel better once you’re up and going.”

I knew that the only thing that was going to make me feel better was calling the Primary president and telling her that I was too sick to give a talk. Mary Kay could give two talks. She gives talks all the time. She even enjoys giving talks. I started to say something, but Mom gave me one of those “don’t waste your breath” looks, so I stopped.

“Good morning, Son,” Dad said happily as I slumped into my chair.

“Morning,” I grumbled. I couldn’t bring myself to call it a good morning.

Dad looked at me quizzically.

“Jeremy’s a bit worried about his talk,” Mom explained.

“Oh, I see,” Dad said. “Is there anything I can do to help? I’d be happy to listen if you want to practice before we go to church.”

I shook my head. Saying my talk in front of my dad wouldn’t help. I ate one pancake and half a piece of bacon before I asked to be excused.

“We’re really proud of you, you know,” Mom said as I rinsed my plate. “I wouldn’t have guessed that you would be the first one in our family to speak in church.”

“I’m sure that we’ll all get a turn eventually,” Dad said with a smile.

“What do you mean?” Devon asked anxiously.

“Just that speaking in church is something that Latter-day Saints do,” Dad replied. “We don’t have a pastor like we used to, who gives a sermon every week. The members take turns giving talks, instead.”

Devon shook his head. “I don’t ever want to give a talk.” He looked at me. “Who told you that you had to give a talk?”

“Nobody did. My teacher asked our class who wanted to give talks. Four of us raised our hands. We picked numbers to see who got to do it.”

“You mean you volunteered?” Devon was shocked.

I shrugged my shoulders. “It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I wish I’d kept my big mouth shut.”

Mom squeezed my shoulder. “You’re going to do great. Now, go get dressed for church.”

Some time later I hurried down the stairs. “Dad, will you tie my tie? I’ve done it three times and still can’t get it right.”

“I’d be happy to.” He wrapped my tie around his neck and tied a perfect knot. My tie looked pretty funny on him. It was way too short. He slid the tie up over his head, then pulled it down over mine.

“Thanks,” I said as I tightened it. I pulled my note cards out of my shirt pocket and started to read through my talk for the zillionth time.

I sat through sacrament meeting, quietly reading my notes over and over again. It wasn’t until I glanced up and saw Mary Kay watching me that I carefully put them back into my pocket.

When I reached the Primary room, I walked up to the chairs at the front of the room. On the way, I stopped at the podium just to make sure that I really was tall enough to see over it without standing on the stool that the little kids use. It didn’t matter—even if I couldn’t see over it, there was no way I was going to stand on the stool.

As I looked out over the podium, I saw my mom and dad sitting in the back of the room. I hadn’t asked them to come, but I wasn’t surprised to see them. What did surprise me was that Devon was with them. He was missing Sunday School just to hear me talk! I wasn’t sure if I was pleased or annoyed.

Mary Kay sat down in the chair next to mine. “Are you nervous?” she asked.

I shrugged, trying to look calm. “Are you?” I asked.

She nodded. “I’ve given lots of talks, but I still get nervous.” She held out her hands to show me that they were kind of shaking.

“Then why do you always volunteer?” I asked.

Mary Kay shrugged. “I think talking in church is a good thing to do. I think it’s important to tell people what you believe. Don’t you?”

“I guess so,” I said. “I’ve never given a talk before.”

Mary Kay looked shocked. “Really?”

“In my old church, the pastor did all the preaching,” I explained.

“It’s great, once you get going,” Mary Kay said with a smile.

The music started, so we stopped talking. I felt surprisingly calm. Somehow, knowing that Mary Kay got nervous when she gave a talk made me feel better.

After the opening song and prayer, the Primary president announced that Mary Kay and I would be giving talks. Mary Kay went first. I had a hard time listening to her talk. I kept going through my talk in my mind. I was startled when I heard her say “amen.”

“Good luck,” she whispered as I passed her on my way to the podium.

I pushed the stool out of the way with my foot, pulled the microphone down, and began.

“This is the first time I’ve ever given a talk in church,” I began. “In fact, it’s the first time anyone in my family has given a talk in church.” I looked at my family. They were all smiling at me.

I went on to tell of all the ways my life had changed since I was baptized. I talked about reading the Book of Mormon. I told about when the missionaries told my dad that he wasn’t pronouncing Moroni’s name correctly. They said that Dad’s way made the prophet’s name sound like a kind of pasta.

Then I talked about learning to pray, how glad I was when I learned that Heavenly Father wants us to pray, and how I knew that He listens to and answers our prayers.

I was almost finished when I realized that my note cards were still clenched tightly in my hand. I hadn’t even needed them! I thanked my parents and Devon for joining the Church and told them that I loved them. That part wasn’t even in my notes. Then I ended my talk, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

As I sat down, I was filled with relief and joy.

“You did great!” Mary Kay whispered.

“Thanks,” I said, blushing slightly.

I looked back at my family. Devon smiled and gave me a big thumbs-up. Mom had tears running down her cheeks. I could tell they were happy tears.

When singing time began, I watched my family slip out the back door. I guess there was no reason for them to stay, but I still was sorry to see them go. It was then that I decided that the next time it was our class’s turn to give talks, I’d volunteer again.

Illustrated by Dick Brown