Memory Work

April 4, 2008
By Annina Wang, Toronto, ZZ

What did you think an average high school girl would be doing at six o’clock a.m. on a weekday? If she were a normal teenager who went to bed past midnight, the chances are likely that she would be sleeping soundly and sweetly in bed and nothing, not even a violent tornado could wake her up. Literally.

But, if her life were very unfortunate, six o’clock would be her time to get up. I should refrain from telling you the exact details of what happened during those miserable mornings, which were the most awful moments in her family’s history. Because sadly, I was the very girl we are talking about. My name was Lindsay.

If I could go back in time and change my actions, I’d never have joined morning choir. Last semester my friend, Melanie, heard of this new music course, and she begged me to join choir with her. I remembered her saying it would be relaxing and fun. So I joined. Bad move. It was very tiring, it was never fun, and worse, it was like an army made up of only girls. Every time I went there, I had to stand in a mist of perfume powder with a pair of eyelids that were made out of lead. Also, I was forced to listen to numerous high-pitched shrieks first thing in the morning. It wasn’t pleasant.

Now all of these might have been easier if I were a musical type of person like my friend Melanie. But the truth was that I hated music. I never even bothered trying to understand its notes because ever since the second I laid my eyes on them, I hated all those scraggly little symbols that were all supposed to represent different tones and rhythms. I was sure they must despise me too, because no friend of mine was half as complicated and confusing, and my friends never gave me severe headaches.

By now all of you would pretty much have figured out why I started skipping choir. You could say that I was not a patient and enduring person, you could also call me a lazy girl, but I wasn’t about to turn back to the lifestyle that involves getting up at the crack of dawn.

At first I went slow, skipping only two choir practices each week. But before I realized it, two turn to three, and three turned to four. Then, I hardly ever went to choir anymore. After all, who could resist the temptation to sleep in everyday?

It was all nice and wonderful for a while, only until the “but…” factor came in. One day Melanie came to my locker and updated me with some troublesome news. Apparently, choir hadn’t been as relaxing and easy as I hoped it would be, because according to her, I had missed a major music theory test that morning. Now, as many times as I said that I couldn’t care less about choir, having a low mark would, no doubt, bring down my grade average. I was sure that my parents would not find it entertaining, either. And not entertaining them meant two weeks without computer and TV. So, without much of a choice, I had to consult the teacher and schedule a makeup test.



I let myself wonder while Melanie, who volunteered to come with me, knocked on the music room door. All my peers said that Mrs. Judy, the choir teacher, was very intelligent and harsh when it came to marking. Though I didn’t really get to know her that well, her effort of trying to be sophisticated is so obvious that just by looking at her outfit, one can tell. Her favorite outfit was a black woolen sweater on top of a long, black dress that fell right down to the pair of black, polished high heels she wore on her feet. Talk about being hip.

When we got inside, I tried in my best manner to apologize for my poor attendance. My heart sank when Mrs. Judy pointed out that I was the only one who missed today’s test and that this hadn’t been the first time I skipped. But she did agree to give me a makeup test, and I was allowed to pick the date. I figured that I would need a few days to work this out, and since today was Monday, I picked Friday after school, not wanting to spoil my weekend. Mrs. Judy gave her consent.

Just when we were out of the door, the teacher gave Melanie her marked test from that morning’s class. It was perfectly written, which gave me this marvelous idea. Instead of going over the entire unit of music theories, I could simply memorize the test’s answer word by word and get a top mark. Now that the perfect answer key was placed within my reach, why not make good use of it? It was so much easier to remember two pages of the test answer than to study the actual theories.

When we walked out of the music room, I asked Melanie to lend the test to me until Friday. After promising her that I wouldn’t cheat off of it and put both of us in danger, she willingly lent it to me. Sweet.

For the next few days, I practically did no studying. I looked over the test and decided that it wasn’t too bad. I just couldn’t understand a thing, that’s all. But I didn’t worry. Who would when the answers were printed clearly in her brain? I have faith in my ability, and I have faith in this little memory work. So instead of studying and figuring out what I didn’t understand like Melanie suggested, I spent the time out with my friends in malls and shopped until my feet were falling off.
The night before the make-up test, I flipped through the pages of the test and made sure that I got all the answers memorized. When I was sure I did, I stuffed the papers in my backpack and went to sleep.

It was three-thirty in the afternoon that Friday; school was out. But for me, it was time for my pen to do the magic. I took long, deliberate steps through the crowded hallway, and when I finally arrived at the music room door, I knocked lightly. There were butterflies in my stomach, strangely enough, but I tried to ignore them. Mrs. Judy opened the door after a few seconds, dressed in her usual outfit, and greeted me:

“Hello, Lindsay, come in and have a seat.”
I walked in and found a table. Mrs. Judy went toward her desk at the other end of the room to get my test. It was so quiet, considering I was the only student. I glanced around the room. There was a little calendar hanging on the wall beside the long chalkboard up the front. I frowned. Today was Friday the thirteenth.

“Lindsay? Here’s your test.” Mrs. Judy strolled beside me and handed me the papers. I reached out to take it.

“Oh, and by the way.” She looked me straight in the eye, “I make completely different tests each time there’s a makeup. Good luck, Lindsay.”

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