I had several minutes to prepare, but I spent them fretting rather than focusing. How others could saunter in to the classroom, set down their pads, and settle to their desks like they were on a sofa sipping warm chocolate and reading the latest Tawargachi novel escaped me. I slid my pen into my breast pocket a second time. I took it back out because I needed something to hold. The pen clattered to the floor when I attempted to spin it over the back of my thumb.
Professor Sog—yeah, I know—backed through the door as he chatted with a colleague in the hall.
“After class,” he said. “I have hours till 2:30. Good, good.” He saluted the colleague good-bye with a stack of hard-copy tests then turned to face the class and smile. He was wearing his yellow plaid exam shirt; the class sighed…or, “Oh’d”…or somethinged. The class reacted satisfactorily at seeing he hadn’t neglected to wear the same shirt he wore at every exam he’d ever given. Not just this semester, all of them.
Last semester, at the Fall mid-term, one of the older boys who sat in the second row had asked, “Do you always wear that yellow shirt on test days?”
“Yellow, huh?” Professor Sog asked in return as if he hadn’t quite heard the boy speaking, but we knew he had.
Unable to summon the courage to ask the question twice, the boy demurred. The exam thus proceeded normally.
There was nothing normal about today’s exam though. This one was our last for the year. Since I was a Senior it was my last ever. And, for me at least, its outcome would determine if I lived or died.
284 words on day 726
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