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The SAT This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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It's cold out here. Colder than it looked when I was sitting in the car, concentrating on regulating my breathing. In … hold … out slowly … hold again. I was making believe that this is just another of the countless tests I've taken. It isn't. It's the key to my future, and more than that, it's a rite of passage. And, like all rites, it is painful.

I follow the back of an unknown boy into the school, my breathing now only interrupted by the sound of my feet, too loud in this strange place. Standing in the courtyard are perhaps 300 high-schoolers, white, well-fed, moving about in small aimless patterns. I stand next to a girl with a kind face who doesn't look too obviously threatening. She says nothing and neither do I. It is too cold and too quiet in the waking morning to speak.

A voice echoes above the strangely silent crowd, directing us to our rooms. I file upstairs along with the other versions of me, all of us scared, all of us heading to our own endings. The world of our childhood has betrayed each and every one of us, tossed us out into a larger, less friendly universe.

The courtyard and stairs grow empty, and the memory of footsteps fades from the inner halls. I pause for a moment outside my assigned room, then enter. It's deathly quiet, but more than that, it is charged with a sense of anticipation and challenge. For the first time in my life I taste the possibility of my inferiority. I slide into a seat and place in delicate order on the desk: a calculator, two pencils, and my driver's permit. When I glance around the room, I notice that there is either a permit or a school ID on every desk. Not one of us has a driver's license.

The proctor has a solid, commanding air, and guides us through all the necessary formalities quickly and with no wasted effort. Obediently, I define myself for her, squeezing in the letters of my name, bubbling the story of my life into distinct and separate sections. It is a soothing ritual, worn slick by practice, and I barely stop to consider how eerily my hand slides itself down the paper.

When the proctor tells us to start, I take a minute of precious time to stare at the essay question. It is down to this. Me and the test, and only one of us will win.

I pick up my pencil, enjoying its familiar weight in my hand, and lightly, quickly, in small rounded serious letters, begin to write.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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