The true tellings of an exam.
The scratch of the pens over paper explodes upon my ears, with only the deep sighs of students to alleviate the turning and scratching of papers. I gulp and look down at my page; a blinding white broken by soft black lines and I think to myself ‘’ what do I do? Come on! Think harder!’’ while still blankly staring down at my page. The ticking of the clock can now be heard over the turning of pages; scratching pens and deep sighs- a symphony of structured chaos. With every tick of the clock, like a stone sinking, my clarity slips away, leaving me with the paralysing dread of not even getting a word jotted down. I look up at the ceiling and try to find an inspiration for the set task- a task that seems hell-bent on breaking me. The ceiling is the colour of dirty, gritty sand. Its lumpy texture above holds little hope for inspiration so I switch back to studying the now more seemingly blank pages in front of me. I glare at the pages as though it was the paper’s fault for my lack of knowledge of what to adorn it with. The blood in my ears is magnified until I can no longer hear the ticking, scratching, turning and sighing over it. I drink some water from the precariously placed bottle on the edge of my desk to quell the pulsation in my ears, looking into its shimmering depths for inspiration but alas it does nothing to inspire me, only cooling my dry tongue.
Adding my own sigh to the mix, I place the bottle back in its perilous spot, pedantically turning it around until the label is directly facing me. I need to finish this hellish task; it seems so simple but it is far from it. How is it that so many have unmasked the ability to write this so easily, yet to me, it is like running uphill, knees deep in mud. The more I try to grasp the concept, the more I sink deeper and deeper into that murky hole of consciousness. The faint pattering of the rain outside is now growing more ferocious as time passes by, its powerful presence only adding to the turmoil inside the room. Shaking my head slightly, I return to sorting through the dry drivel in my head for something I can use to write this colossal task. However, it is as useful as trying to identify a single raindrop in a storm…hopeless.
A crack of lightning shakes the exam hall breaking the cycle of sighs. This break of the steady chorus of quiet sighs allows a moment of true silence to be heard; every breath is held in anticipation for what is to follow, the known sound most alike to a hundred bowling balls rushing towards their target ‘BOOOMM!!!’ The sound pounds and breaks through the room while the students look as the though the lightning hit them as they bolt upright in their seats looking like disjointed Mexican wave; I chuckle at my own unconventional sense of humour. In a flurry, the sounds of turning and scratching picks up again, seeming to work in overdrive to compensate for the distraction. I glance down at my white, dog-tailed page, now slightly crumpled from nervous hands. My annoyance hits like a steam roller. I huff in frustration knowing my annoyance is not from those making the sounds but at myself for the lack of being able to join in their perfectly orchestrated symphony of inspirational thoughts, their ability to weave brilliant stories and place it all onto the white pages with fading lines in front of them.
The storm raging outside depicts the whirlwind of boisterous silent noises in the room perfectly. While they now cause only a few heads to rise in nervous jerks, I revel in the loud booms, as it feels as though each one shakes the clutter out of my head. A sense of clarity returns, bringing along calm, steady breaths to my previously jittery ones. With a strike of lightning, the lights suddenly blink out, casting some obscurity over the hall. Everyone is out of their element but I feel perfectly in good shape. I feel myself pull free from the sucking mud that had tried to drag me down and now…I find myself at the front of this uphill race to knowledge. In the dark, slightly ominous hall, despite the large quantity of students and teachers in it, I finally place my pen on the white page and allow it to blend with the dark surroundings. The hall is now filled only by me. A sense of euphoria comes over as the words tumble onto the page as I fill them at lightning pace. Turning pages over faster than I can breathe, this task finally seems achievable. The ability to join the structured chaos is finally here, only it feels like with the rest of the room silent, I have been given the honour of a solo; an opportunity to stand out while everyone fades in.
Scrawling my name at the end of the story, a grin spreads over my face. 🙂