by Henrika F
My hands are stained, impossible to scrub clean after all the hours spent at the garage with my dad, and for a moment I just sit there picking on my nails, while the lump in my throat is getting bigger.
I stare at the empty paper in front of me. Taking a deep breath, I summon all my courage and pick up the chewed down pencil and bring the tip to the paper. The clock on the wall ticks forward; the sound echoes throughout the room suffocating me in the awareness of time moving forward.
I wipe off cold sweat from my forehead and scribble down a few numbers, merely copying the equation rather than trying to solve it. Well, at least it isn’t empty anymore, I think as I draw a neat line throughout the paper.
I glance around; everyone else is writing, concentrating hard on the paper in front of them. None of them seem fazed by the situation. Shaking my head, I try to scatter the distracting questions bouncing around my head. Don’t they feel the pressure? Isn’t their future on the line? Isn’t their whole family expecting them to fail, while waiting for them to succeed? Didn’t their mother pawn her wedding ring so that they could be the first in the family to actually have a degree? Probably not, I scoff quietly as I look at the designer bags hanging off the backs of the chairs.
Closing my eyes, I try to focus. I breathe deeply and force myself to believe that I can do this, that I can belong here. For the next forty minutes I count, not letting another thought enter my mind before even the last question is answered. Gone is the empty paper, along with my anxiety.
I stretch my arms and look around. Some are still working hard, struggling it seems, while others are obviously already finished too. A girl with blonde hair pulled up on a ponytail catches my attention. Maybe she senses my stare, because a moment later, she looks up, her striking blue eyes meeting mine with a smile.
At last the bell rings; the test is over, our papers are collected and we are dismissed. Chatter fills the room as friends are eager to share the experience. I collect my stuff in silence and join the flow of students moving through the hallways towards the exit. I push open the door and head down the stairs when a perfectly manicured hand with bright pink nail polish, catches my arm, making me halt in my steps.
“So, how did it go?” she asks.
“I think I did okay, what about you?” I answer.
She smiles, and her blue eyes sparkle in the sunlight, making me forget all about the test and the pressure related to it. For the first time in months I can breathe freely, and in that moment I know, that even if this school might not be my future, this girl, most certainly is.