The thought clawed maliciously with the same desperation of a cornered animal.
It held his hand, stopping him from delivering the speech he'd spent perfecting during the long hours of the previous few nights. It was so close to exposure that he could almost taste it's essence.
It was a tease.
He knew this despite its hidden nature. It was almost as if his mind could only see the darkened silhouette, and the dancing of its shadows. He tilted his head sideways, hoping the action would knock something loose, but it did nothing.
He was frozen now, with a storm of panic brewing deep in his stomach. The stage lights suddenly seemed to surge with power, to the point where his obvious weakness was reflected back to him through the uncomfortable eyes of those in the front row. His awkwardness was becoming contagious.
He found some comfort in the strength of a podium as it shielded his lower body. He willed it to grow taller and hide him from the unbroken stares, but the aged wood had long ago stopped growing.
The thought returned for the quickest of seconds and he almost screamed with frustration as it receded again. He was sure about one thing only, and it was that the thought, the one jockeying the very brink of his mind, had the power to win him this thing. The power to calm the jittery nerves and restore his voice that heʼd once had absolute control over.
Distant memories now.
The fear that now bled into the panic didnʼt come from his inability to speak publicly, but instead came from the realization that if he couldnʼt persuade these people in front of him, he had no hope of saving his town. Who would listen, or rather endure, the mumblings of an old man trying to fight the apparently needed change? He had lived his whole life rooted in the belief that power came from community, but now when his ideas were needed most, to earn the votes like he had all those years ago, he was failing.
But there was this thought!
The one just familiar enough to recognize from all those years ago. It would save him.
He dropped his weary eyes to the paper in his hand, watching with mild curiosity as his fist curled into itself, the paper being engulfed completely.
It was only then, freshly unarmed, that he stepped out from behind his shield and reached for the thought with everything he had. He smiled when the familiar warmth of confidence found its way back into his old bones.
He opened his mouth to speak, knowing the words that came forth found only listening ears.
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