She sighed, her breath shaky as she took her seat in the back of the classroom unnoticed. Her face was darker than the norm, shadowed by the cascading waterfall of her hair. The flaxen waterfall flowed into breaking rapids upon her slumped shoulders, unkempt in comparison to her usual tidiness (which was achieved by, at most, five brush strokes). Behind the rush of hair were pools of blue upon a pale face, losing the battle to the sandman who pulled her eyelids until he had reached his goal, then and there. Determined to be victorious, her weak arms dug through her bag, littered with various papers, her eyes inadvertently avoiding the mess. With an unstable hand, she pulled out a sheet, torn and wrinkled at the margins, as if her slender fingers had miraculously sensed the words printed upon page and were able to choose the right page. Tediously she redirected the falls of her locks behind her ears, but her typically sharp features remained dark and softened despite that the curtain had been pulled away and the spotlight was beating down on her face. From the top down, the paper was a Snellen Chart: the first word, “foment” was clearest, and the last, “reprobate” was the least focused on the sheet. Her view jumped word to word, from “dogmatic” to “parlay” to “obsequious”. She stood up straighter, but was powerless to stifle a yawn in the process. Aiming her arms to stretch downward, she was able to keep from disturbing those around her who were dispersing to their seats before the final bell. The worry that had not been muted by the lack of rest, the worry that kept light coming into her eyes, picked up pieces of conversation, yet another scheme to stay awake. She knew of those who were prepared for that day for they bragged boastfully of a score yet to be, but those who were shipwrecked in the sea of failure kept to themselves to avoid embarrassment. The echo of the last bell did not phase her dying awareness, nor did the enthusiasm of the teacher as she swiftly passed the exam through the class.
December 29, 2010