Final Exam

Posted on Monday 21st May 2007 at 00:00
I pause in the middle of a sentence to look up and check the time. Whilst I'm moving my head I figure I might as well have a look around the room. It's the same story everywhere; exam desk covered in paper and pens, chair just behind it and busy student working to prove that they are worth something to the world. A pattern repeated 200 times over across the room.

As my eyes move from one side to the other, attempting one of those furtive glances into space that all exam takers need whenever staring at the paper becomes too much, I accidentally make eye contact with my neighbour, a thin blonde girl who I'm pretty sure I've never seen before.

We both look away with such rapidity and force than an observer might fancy our visions had set fire to one another; burning into each of our brains. Of course, it is nothing more than the scold of guilt, knowing that though nothing passed between us except mutual expressions of boredom, a sharp eyed invigilator could misread an attempt to cheat.

Later a mobile phone goes off, somewhere to the left of me, where the coats and bags have been dumped. It's a pretty little tune, but all the same the punishment for a switched on phone is severe, and 200 people simultaneously will the caller to hang up. Eventually they do, but not before I've observed a mouthed conversation between two of the people in front of me; friends asking each other whose phone it is. Apparently it belongs to the girl immediately in front of me, whom I imagine grinning the guilty grin of one who's just gotten away with murder.

A minute passes before the phone goes again, mystery caller number one apparently unaware that there is an exam on. This time the atmosphere is that of quiet amusement. I see the chief invigilator walking over to the bags, a wide grin barely concealed on his care worn face. For some reason he always reminds me of John Reid, the outgoing Home Secretary. No idea why; perhaps it's the accent.

Luckily for the unfortunate girl, the caller hangs up before the offending bag can be located. Unluckily they call back again a minute later, seeming unable to fathom why anyone would be doing anything more important than waiting to talk to them. This time the bag is found, and the last we hear of it is the fading ring tone as it is carried out of the room.

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