Monday, July 1, 2019

The Test

Photo Credit Julie Moore

I'm taking an online writing class this summer with teachers Robin Rice and Emily McDowell at The writing prompts are pictures and we are free to write whatever we'd like to as inspired by the photo. 

Here's what I wrote to go with the photo above:

Her parents had always told her, if she worked hard, she could be anything she wanted. High school was fun and games, but at a university in a pre-med program, she would thrive. Her mom always accented that word, “thrive.” Now, as she stood in line to take her place at the SATs, she realized it was all a lie. A well-meaning lie, but still. She had studied her ass off, but if the prep course had taught her anything, it was that evidence-based reading would eat her alive. She could kiss the college of her choice goodbye.

“Just focus on the math. Just ace the math,” she thought. Wearing her blue and white striped dress and gold sandals, she looked around at the other kids in their sweatpants and hoodies and realized she had over-dressed for the test. Better over-dressed than under-dressed, her mom had taught her. She tried to pull herself back to the moment. There were no points for fashion. Where was her mind? The proctor passed out the tests.

Her SAT-prep tutor had tried. Mostly because he knew her success or failure would reflect back on his “scholarly rep.” In the end, he had given up and just shown her how to cheat. There was always a way to game the system, he said. His nickname for her was “Trade School.”

Everyone knew Damon had gotten a perfect score on his math. He had missed one, but challenged it and proved the test was wrong, resulting in much time and expense on the part of the testing board. He had curly hair, her weakness. Everyone knew, she had made-out with him in the school library a few times. He seemed unconcerned about how that would reflect on his scholarly rep.

She could feel the sweat from her palms slick on the sharpened number two pencils in her clenched hand. Her parents, her friends, that asshole Damon - they all had their own ideas about who she was and what she could do and it was all bullshit. She didn’t belong to them. The test would be magnificent or it would be trash. It didn’t matter. She closed her eyes. She envisioned the word “thrive” and lit it on fire.

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