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


   I'd been 16 for six days and was prepared to deal with failure. I remember when mymom woke me, her voice didn't have that scratchy morning quality it usually did.She'd been up for more than an hour making sure my sister got off to school, andworrying about me in every spare minute.

I stayed in bed for a fewminutes, reluctant to leave the warmth, comfort and familiarity, and reluctant toface the fear that I'd shoved to the back of my mind for the past six months. Ithad waited there with the patience of a caterpillar in its cocoon, but today,instead of a beautiful butterfly, something horrible would emerge.

All myfear, nervousness and anxiety had waited in the back of my mind, only to showitself today. I'd hoped it would go away, but my hopes were smothered by this newblanket of insecurity that I'd wrapped around me since the minute I'd beenawakened. Burnt orange light was creeping in my window and distracting me fromsleep. My room felt like a vacuum. I couldn't breathe.

Finally, I draggedmyself out of bed and stumbled to my door. The hallway was filled with sweet,fruity scents that made me feel like I was in some tropical paradise, but reallyit was just the smell of various body washes and lotions drifting from thebathroom.

The first thing I wanted to do was eat. I was starving! I wentto the kitchen and prepared a breakfast that I thought was fairly small, but wasstill much too big for my nerves. I kept telling myself that I should eat.Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this wasn't any ordinaryday. Plus, maybe it would calm me a little, but I doubted that anything couldhave right then.

I took the first bite and waited cautiously. A fewseconds later I felt it hit my stomach and send out ripples like a pebble beingthrown into a pond. The ripples settled, and I took another bite. After a fewmore, my stomach was no longer a pond but an ocean and, after the sixth, it feltlike it was in full hurricane mode. I'd have to go without the most importantmeal of the day for once.

I left the kitchen because even the smells feltsuffocating. I finished getting ready and tried to sit and settle down. It didn'twork, so I decided that we should go. We had a little time so I thought maybe wecould practice parallel parking. I lined the car up and started to back into thespace. Errffrr! That was the sound of the tire scraping the curb. After that Iwas what you could call a disturbed driver. Any tiny bit of confidence I'd builtup was gone. I pulled out of the space to go around the block and try again. Thegray streets were menacing paths, all leading to me failing my driver's test. Itried two more times, each time thinking that I might do better. I did, but notmuch. Then we headed toward the test location.

The parking lot was, forthe most part, empty that early. In it sat the few vehicles of the instructorsand other kids waiting to take their tests. There were other people in the lobbyarea, but I didn't really notice faces. My stomach was a rock and my hands wereshaking so much I was surprised my keys weren't jingle-jangling a tune.

Iwent into a room for some paperwork and 20 minutes of waiting, just enough timeto convince myself that I was going to fail. Then, finally, it was my turn. Ijust wanted to get it over with so I could come back next Thursday.

Istepped outside and the sky was the baby blue I love. It offered some comfort andI realized that sometime between when I pulled myself off the bench and gotoutside, my stomach was no longer a rock and my hands had steadied themselves.

I got into the now-welcoming car and waited for the instructor. The firstthing I had to do was 90-degree parking, which I nailed. The confidence that camewith that hit me like a tidal wave. The rest of the test was a blur of uphillparking, lane changes, right- and left-hand turns and parallel parking, which Ipassed as well. Then we were back in the parking lot and this intimidatinginstructor was telling me all the things I needed to work on, not for my secondtest next Thursday, but for all the time I'd be spending on the road as a newlylicensed driver.

Back in the building I didn't have to say a word. My momknew just by looking at me. Her face was softened by a smile that I'm sure was atleast as big as mine, but her eyes looked kind of teary. I knew she was happy forme, but sad as well. We realized at the same time that I was not as much her babyanymore, and both of us wished for a moment that there was no such thing asgrowing up.




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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