On The Road - Almost This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I'd have to say it's usually a simple task in a teenager's life. Just a bump in the road, right? So maybe you get butterflies the hour before, but then you take it, pass, and it's over. I only wish this had been the case for me.

Waking up, I am completely frozen in my bed. Not because I'm nervous, but because it's 55 degrees in my house. Maybe my dad forgot to put the heat on, or maybe I am just nervous. My exhaustion is compelling my eyelids to shut in an attempt to give my body some much-needed sleep, though today is not the best day to be tired. I'll just shake it off, throw some cold water on my face, and get ready for the big ride.

Oh, it's not going to be a big deal. I really don't even care if I pass. This is just a fun little game to get out of class. Even if I fail, there is always next time, I tell myself as I shower, trying to put the idea of a driving test on hold to trick my brain into thinking this is a normal day. Naturally, this does not work.

During the short drive to the test site, thoughts of the test ricochet around in my brain, sinking me into a combination of confusion, excitement and total anxiety.

As we pull into the street, I start to feel more and more tense. Calm down. This whole situation is ridiculous. I could fail on purpose and it wouldn't make any difference, I tell myself, trying to relax. My spirit sinks when I see six cars waiting ahead of me.

There is nothing to do but watch the faces of the triumphant drivers getting out of their cars jumping up and down in delight. I wonder if I will actually vomit. I think about this while nervously watching my tester approach our car. My dad says something comforting, but it doesn't make it to my brain, which is too focused on the tester. I desperately try to connect his face to his personality.

As he gets in the car, I wait for directions, but hear none. I sit in deafening silence for at least three minutes. Shattering the silence, he asks, "Okay, any questions?" The words echo through my brain a thousand times until I answer, "No, I don't think so." He points to the road ahead of us to begin our journey.

Everything seems to be going fine until my tester begins to show signs of disapproval. It seems I am the worst driver he has ever seen in all his years on the job. To further extinguish any hope of passing, I hear comments like, "Hurry up; You're too far over to the side; Watch out for that truck; You're too close; You're going too slow; Now you're going too fast; Pay attention to the road!" As if I weren't nervous enough before!

Alright, so he yelled at me a little and got slightly out of control, but my three-point turn and parallel parking were flawless. He can't possibly fail me. I didn't do anything that horrendous! I think, as I near the end. So I calm myself, and proceed down the street as instructed. I put on my blinker to move into the turning lane. Little do I know that there was a huge truck in the same lane at that moment. My tester, maniac that he is, screams an obscenity and grabs the wheel.

"You have to be much more careful than that, son!" he chides.

Even after the chaos and confusion, I still have one last, desperate wish for success. I sit there as he gives me a five-minute lecture on exactly what I did wrong and what I need to do to improve. Before I can say anything, he gives me his report and opens the door.

Without looking at the paper, I shout, "Wait! Did I pass?" I don't know what compelled me to ask such an illogical question, but the answer actually came with a tone somewhere between pity and sympathy: "No, I'm sorry."

I returned to school feeling like road kill. I guess I did care about passing after all. Maybe lying to myself just made the outcome worse. If I ever take this test again, I'll just let loose whatever I'm feeling and not hide my emotions. So, until next time ...

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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