The Worst Two Hours

by Elie D.

You are sitting in one of those metal chairs every school has. The back is at the wrong angle to support you, so you don’t use it, instead hunching over the table, your spine curved to the point where it aches. The ache echoes the one in your butt from sitting on that stupid chair for so long. Your hand has been gripping your pencil for so long that it’s cramped. Speaking of your pencil, you’ve worn down the tip to a stub and it’s really starting to bother you. You switch the pencil to the other hand, stretching out your writing one; widening it out and curling it up to a fist, shaking it repetitively like a dog shaking water.

Or maybe you’re not using a pencil and are instead typing on your laptop. You are seated in a circle facing out; the screen facing back in. Your fingers are slow and clumsy, constantly missing the keys you actually want to type, taking way too long to type a simple word.

It’s silent in the room. Well, not perfectly silent. You can hear people’s pencil scratching on their papers, a sure sign they know more than you. They make that soft, silky sound across the blank sheet, occasionally wearing down or catching an edge, the sound becoming rough and uneven. Or they are typing, and you can hear the click of every key, random bursts as someone gets excited about what they are writing or suddenly comes up with an exquisite end to their sentence.

Occasionally someone will shift, their clothes rustling together, hair shifting on top of fabric, feet scuffing the ground as people get antsy. Someone will inevitably cough, sneeze, clear their throat, or swear under their breath.  But these are trivial sounds, and other than them, it is dead silent. Unnervingly silent. Usually you can at least hear people screwing around in the hallways or the great hall. But not today. The school is dead. The students are dead.

Your brain is dead too. It’s completely fried from the year, caught up in the prospect of sunshine and no school. Though you studied for weeks for this day, in all honesty you don’t remember anything you memorized. You’re not even sure you did memorize anything. You attended those study sessions, but they were really more of a social event than anything else, time for you to chat with friends and complain about the upcoming tests. Your brain feels empty. The questions and prompts swim in front of your eyes and you are unable to come up with anything to write as an answer. Then you get distracted by a leaf outside. It’s not even moving but its color is so vibrant it reminds you of a family vacation and before you know it 30 minutes have passed and you still have written nothing.

When you realize this, you quickly put your pencil back to the paper and write down some numbers. Some words. Some random doodles until the correct equation or response comes to you and you quickly solve the problem. Once you get on a roll, you zoom through a couple more problems, writing down answers quickly to make sure your get them all in. Then you get stuck again and space out, running your hands through your hair and playing with your clothes.

By the end of the two hours, you have completed your test, but that by no means means you are anywhere close to being correct. But at least its done. You are swimming through your thoughts, unable to form anything coherent as you shove your pencils and laptop into your bag and leave that dreaded classroom. Though the two hours were brutal, you are done now and never have to take this class again.