Survival In An Exam Room

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Madeeha Qasmi Mrs. Rogers-Wardle English Writing November 16, 2001 Survival in an Exam Room Weakly, I walk to class. The hallways are dim and gloomy, promising only pain and suffering. As I enter the classroom, I am momentarily blinded by the bright classroom lights. When my eyes adjusted to the lighting I wish the lights had done a permanent job on my eyes. The sight before me is more depressing and agonizing than any I have ever before seen. My teacher is wearing a harsh and cold expression on his face. His stance is rigid and closed off with his arms folded in. There is no comfort to be found there. The times of laughter and joy in class have passed. There will be no teasing and poking fun at one another today; today is exam day.

It is too painful to look at my once confidante and now jailer for the next couple of hours, so I shift my gaze to my peers.

They don't make me feel any better. Not one girl has taken the time to put on make-up and not one boy is wearing gel in his hair. The dark circles under their eyes look impossibly black and surely had to have been painted on for the purpose of arousing sympathy. Everyone looks weak and panicked. I can see the beaded sweat pouring down the foreheads of a select few. Nails are being bitten, foreheads are furrowed and teeth are chattering. We are all doomed.

I take my seat. My chair and table are harsh and cold, seemingly trying to send me a subliminal message stating to me my forthcoming doom. As my teacher passes out those feared documents, I can taste my anxiety. My mouth is drying up fast. My exam paper is on my desk. At that moment, the clock starts ticking, the volume rising each minute. The rushed writing that my peers are doing is making a scratching sound and I can hear people flip pages around. Already I can smell the whiteout that is suffocating me with its strong and toxic scent. I can hear people pop cough tablets in their mouths, and now I can smell it. There's cherry flavor and a honey lemon flavor packet going around the class.

I start writing my exam when the first sniffles start to show themselves. Right when I am half way through a very long and passionate answer, I am rudely frightened out of my seat with a loud honk. The first sneeze. Now the tissues are being passed about and I can see the runny and watery eyes. There is nothing I can do. I sit back down in my seat and continue to write the words that will decide my future. If I write well, I will live, if not, then I shudder to think of what course of action my parents will take.

Soon, I can hear the whispers and begging! The cheating and negotiating has started. I am sure I heard the sentence, "You scratch my back, I scratch yours." Then I realize I am also being spoken to. I look into their hopeless face and pleading eyes, and know that I can do nothing for them. Too much is at stake here. It's every student for him and herself. I have to get back to writing my exam.

I am finally on the last page. Sighing, I let my back slump over the table, and briefly put my head down. There is a chill rising from the tiles of the floor and my desk is making my nose want to sneeze. I pick up my pen and realize there is something sticky on my fact where I put it down on my desk. Some of the words on my paper are smudged. There is sticky black ink on my face. This day could not get any worse. Resigned, I try to make out the words, ignore the aches in my hands, back and head and continue writing; the bell indicating my confinement is over, rings. Time to sleep.