the short story project


The Exam

The Exam

The night before the exam was indescribable. I lay there in my bed, wide awake at 1:00 in the morning, staring at the ceiling fan, as it spun above me. My heart was beating rapidly and it was so quiet that I could actually hear it. All I could think about was what would happen to me the next morning. This test would determine my fate! It was all that ever mattered to me that year. 

“This year, I will skip 4th grade!” I told myself even though I didn’t actually believe it.

 ‘What if I fail? What would my teachers think of me?’ I couldn’t sleep that night. My palms were sweating and I was shaking my leg vigorously. This is what I had spent my entire summer studying for, and if I failed, I would put so many people to shame. I have never doubted myself more than the night before the exam. 

“I have to pass.” I said to myself, even though I had no hope at all.

I would pass to make my parents happy. My third grade teachers would be so proud of me, and my friends would all be so happy for me. What an opportunity I had to really show them my skills. I had to take advantage of it.  

*Beep, beep, beep*

I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock at 6:00 in the morning. ‘When did I even fall asleep?’ I walked into the bathroom, looked into the mirror and I gave myself a motivational and inspiring pep talk about how I was capable of doing anything that I put my mind to. Deep down inside, I knew it wasn’t all that effective, but I lied to myself and told myself that It was extremely useful and that I had so much confidence. I got dressed as slowly as possible, hoping that time would slow down too, and that the dreaded moment would never arrive. But I knew that it would come regardless of what I tried to do. I sat down to have breakfast with my happy and loving family. They told me how much they loved me, and that they would always love me no matter what happened. I nodded my head to whatever they said to act like I was listening. I smiled, but nobody knew what was going on inside my head. I wanted to scream. I had never been this anxious in my entire life! ‘How could a simple test do this to me?’I thought.  My parents were so supportive, and I had so many people who had my back, that there was no reason to be nervous. And yet, I was literally freaking out.

I finished my breakfast and opened my math book to study one last time before the exam. 

“What is the difference between a prime number, and a composite number?” My dad asked me as we sat on the couch.

I began to stutter, “Prime…has..umm only two factors. And..a composite number has more than two?”

He looked at me and smiled, “Good job Aya, see you can do this.”

I nodded, but deep down, I was certain that I had no chance of passing this test. It was 7:45, and my test started at 8:15. My dad told me it was time to go so that I would not be late. I kissed my mother goodbye and she wished me luck. I headed to the car and went inside. I put my seatbelt on and realized that my hands were shaking. The butterflies in my stomach had been there for the longest time! My palms were sweating as I thought about how poorly I would perform on this test. ‘What if I didn’t study enough? What if i’m not as smart as I seem?’ These questions kept coming up in my head the whole drive to the highschool that I was testing at. And before I knew it, we had arrived. 

I walked into the school, and I saw so many pictures of highschool students who had earned scholarships to the best of schools. I walked for a long time in those halls, admiring the successful students in the photos. I looked up to my dad and said, “One day, I will be just as successful as them.”

He smiled and replied, ”I know you will.”

Those were the last words of wisdom that I got from my dad, and we departed into separate places.

I entered the classroom with my head held high, but I looked at the students in the classroom, and I quickly lowered it again. They were all highschool students! I looked around awkwardly. ‘What if I was in the wrong class?’ Just then, a kind lady approached me with a warm smile and said, “Hi! You must be Aya Almathkur! Have a seat smarty pants and I will get your test for you.”

I was shocked. ‘Smarty pants? How did she even know me?’ I sat down in an empty seat next to a girl who appeared to be about 18 years of age. I looked down at her test and it looked like she had an art test. She was shading in a sphere. I was mesmerized by how smoothly she moved her pencil, that I almost forgot the whole reason why I was here in the first place. I felt a tap on my shoulder which made me jump.

“Hey there! Didn’t mean to scare you. Here is your first test. You have one hour to complete it. You will have three tests today which will all be one hour each. You will begin with your math test, then English, then science. Please let me know if you have any questions.” She winked at me and walked away. I looked down at my test and my heart dropped. My palms began to sweat again and the butterflies in my stomach returned. My confidence went from 100% to 0% in less than a second. I didn’t even know where to start! I picked up my pencil, and wrote my name in the top right corner, along with the date. Then I stopped thinking. I was going to faint. I sat there for 5 minutes calming myself down, and then I finally confronted my first question. And to my surprise, It was easier than I had thought! But I was not going to let that small spark of happiness and confidence make me think that I had what it takes to pass. I moved on to the next question, and the question after that.

 I was grinding my teeth together, and the butterflies – oh the butterflies would not go away. My sweaty palms made the paper soggy and smudged my answers. I finished that first 3 pages this way, and I realized that I was on my last question. It had only been 45 minutes! Oh no, I had this all wrong! There must be a mistake! I knew I had them all wrong. There is no way that I answered any of those questions right. The doubt in my mind was absolutely awful. ‘Should I turn it in?’ I checked my questions like 20 times! ‘What do I do?’ I decided to get it done and just turn it in. I knew that I wasn’t going to pass anyway. My legs were shaking as I got up to submit it. I was hesitant. ‘Should I check again one more time?’ I didn’t turn back. I just walked up to her and handed her my test. She smiled, congratulated me and handed me my next test. ‘Was it really that easy?’ I walked back to my chair, with my heart beating so loud and so fast! My palms were sweating and I was going to faint. But this test meant the world to me. I tried to think about all the english I had learned over the summer, but I couldn’t think of anything. I couldn’t even look at the first question. I spent a whole 5 minutes just trying not to cry. Then I came to my senses. ‘I can’t waste anymore time!’ I decided that I was going to have to finish this test sooner or later. I look down at my first question. It asked me what a verb was. ‘Wait, I must have the wrong test…this is easy. Perhaps I am doing them all wrong.’ I didn’t hesitate, as I answered every question at bullet speed. Maybe it was supposed to be like that. I bit my lip as I finished the last question. ‘Should I review it one more time?’ I couldn’t stop doubting myself. ‘I should have studied more,’ I thought. But it was too late now. I got up and turned it in, my heart pounding in my chest. I ignored the million questions of doubt I had in my head. I handed my test to her with my hands shaking. She smiled and gave me my last test. The science test. I took it with a warm smile and returned to my seat. I could tell that she knew my smile was fake. ‘I am not going to pass, so I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high.’  

The science test was extremely easy. Maybe because I was getting it all wrong. I gave up hope and just turned it in with no emotion at all. She looked at me with a big smile on her face and said, “You finished really fast! It must have been easy for you.”

I let out a nervous chuckle and nodded. I knew that if I said anything, I would start crying because I knew that I had not given it my best effort. 

“You will receive a phone call in about a week or so, to update you on your scores. Good luck!”

She said with a wink.

“Thank you!” I said with a semi-smile as I walked out of the room.

When I stepped outside, I saw my father sitting down on a bench waiting for me. I ran into his arms and I gave him a big hug. 

“How was it?” He asked with a smile.

“It was so easy.” I told him. 

“I knew you were so smart!” He said. 

I felt like I had let him down somehow. I knew I could have done better, but it was too late now. At this point, all we could do was wait until the results come.

The following week was absolute hell for me. It felt like I was playing the waiting game. Every day felt like a million years. That week felt like a lifetime. I couldn’t stop thinking about that test! Even though I had lost all hope, deep down inside I still thought I might pass. ‘What if I still had a chance?’ And then the day came for me to finally find out what I got. That was the day that changed my life forever.

*Ring, ring, ring*

I watched anxiously as my dad picked up the phone. My heart thudded in my chest and my hands were shaking. The butterflies in my stomach had returned, and I was shaking my leg vigorously. This is the big moment that I have been waiting for all summer, and it had to be worth it. Everything became in slow motion to me. Time slowed down, and I felt like I was in a dream.

“Hello…yes…she passed?!” 

I gasp. ‘How?’ No. It can’t be right, there must have been a mistake somewhere – I couldn’t have passed. Just then I felt my vision blur up and warm tears started rolling down my cheeks. They weren’t just tears, they were tears of happiness, tears of achievement, of pride and hard work. They were tears of satisfaction and joy. But most importantly, they were tears of success. I proved myself wrong. I proved to myself that I can do things that I put my mind to. I finally found out what I was really capable of doing. I did the unthinkable. After doubting myself for so long, I finally realized that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I would let nobody stop me from doing what I love. And this was exactly what I loved.

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