When I Almost Failed

 “Oh God, what am I going to do?” I mutter to myself, papers soaked with tears strewn across my desk, several cups of coffee thrown half-hazardly, some empty, some still full and cold. I looked at a nearby clock. The time was six o’clock. The moon was dipping in the west, getting ready for bed as the sun was getting ready to go to work. The sky looked like a dancing fire with a mix of orange, yellow and red. The birds sang their beautiful songs, but they must have been singing about my funeral for me.

 The science finale worth seventy percent was in a few hours, and I was scrambling to get enough information so I could pass. That’s when a nasty, vile thought came creeping across my mind. Why don’t I just cheat? I wrinkled my nose at that thought. I know I’m not perfect and have failed before, but the sting of past failures made cheating more alluring. It’s just some stupid test. It won’t define who I am. The temptation grew stronger. There’s also the thrill of cheating and getting away with it. And, with that, I grabbed the nearest pen and was about to write a few answers on my arm.

As I was doing that, the consequences flooded my mind. What if I get caught? And, the teacher finds out, and I lose the test and go to detention. As I was thinking these thoughts, “What would Mom and Dad say?” I started to sniff, trying to stop the mucus from leaving my body.“I know what they’re going to say. “We thought you were above cheating, and we expect more from you,” I said, trying to imitate their voices. It may not affect me now, but what if, while marking, the teacher finds out because my answers are too perfect and it was all for nothing. These questions overwhelmed me, and I felt my eyes start to water again. I knelt and started to pray at my bedside, where a cross hung on a wall. “God, what am I supposed to do? I have this test in a few hours, and I’m running out of time.” As I was waiting for an answer, instead all I got was a silence that started to engulf me. I looked around and saw the pen I was writing gleaming in the sunlight. “Alright, I don’t want to fail,” I muttered to myself and picked up the pen to keep writing the answers on my arm and reminded myself to use this only as a last resort. 

When I finished, I tried to go downstairs as quietly as a mouse, trying not wake anyone up. I grabbed some eggs and a pot getting ready to boil them when my arm slipped, and I nocked the pot over. CRASH. The pot clang to the ground. I heard some wrusstling in one of the bedrooms, and then footstep came strolling into the kitchen. Standing in the door frame was my father shirtless and slipperless, wearing only his pyjama bottoms. He stumbled near to me, his eyes half-opened. “You have to be quieter,” he mumbled. “I know that you have a test in a few hours, but your mom and I have to get ready for work in a few hours.” He rubbed his eyes and let out a yawn. “What’s that on your arm?” he pointed to the exposed arm with all the answers on it. “Wait one second, let me get my glasses.” He turned back to his room.

“Don’t worry; it’s nothing. Just got some ink spilled on my arm,” I said frantically. My heart beating profusely in my chest as I hid the arm behind my back. My arm was sweating profusely.  “Why don’t you go back to bed. I promise I’ll be quiet.” He stared at me with disbelief. 

“I just want to make sure you’re telling the truth.” He whispered loudly, so he didn’t wake anyone up but just loud enough so that I could hear. And he took off to his room, and I could hear him rummaging through his room. I looked around rapidly, trying to find something that could hide the ink. Should I wash it off? My thoughts were becoming more frantic. No, I’m not prepared for the test. I should just run out of the door. My stomach rumbled in protest. I stamped my foot as I remembered that I had left my backpack upstairs. I rushed back upstairs and snatched my backpack, and stuffed all my notes inside it. I bolted to the stairs, but he had found his glasses and was waiting for me at the bottom. I raced down the stairs and ran right past him. 

“Amy wait.” He cried out in a groggy whispery voice. 

“Can’t, dad, I have to go to school and study,” I whispered back as I grabbed my jacket and a granola bar and then bolted out of the door.

The warm sun brought joy to my soul as I was set free from the damp, cold prison that I call my bedroom. But the brightness blinded me as if my eyes had never seen the sun before. The crickets chirped in the dry wheatgrass while the wind lightly pushed it around. The gravel crunched under my feet. The sound of distant tractors helped me relax, and the smell of burning diesel helped me wake up. As I walked, I kept studying while stopping once in a while to write a few notes on my arm. It seemed like forever before I came to my high school.  When I got there, the sun was climbing its way into the sky, and all the students were bustling around trying to get to their classes. I looked around to see how late I was, but when I did find a clock, it said eight o’clock. I was fifteen minutes late! “Here we go,” I mutter to myself and put on the jacket I got from home so that I could hide the answers even better and then went inside of the belly of the beast. 

As I ran around trying to find my class I felt incredibly hot in the jacket. I have to where this our else I fail. I thought to myself. As I wipe the sweat from my forehead. As I frantically looked for my classes I saw I tall pale brown haired girl talking to another girl. “Amber!” I yelled and waved to her. Amber turned around at me with shock.

“Where have you been. You’re late,” She ran towards me. “Common we have to go to class,” She yanked my arm and pulled me towards class. “Be careful Mr. Scott is in a rotten mood. Have you studied?”

“No, I just sat in my room starting at a wall all night.” I said in a dead pan voice then gave a sly smile.

“Ha ha,” Amber said dryly. “Just be ready. Here have an orange.” She stopped and pulled an orange out of her back. She tossed it to me and pushed me into class. 

The focused silence of the glass seemed like I entered a different world. I walked up to Mr. Lee’s desk. He had a deep scowl and was finishing up some paperwork.

“Hi Mr. Lee.” I whispered

“Amber why are you late?” Lee snapped back as quiet as he can. “It dosen’t matter I put the test on your desk. Just head over there and go do it.”

I crept over to my desk and brought out a pen to start doing it. After a few questions Mr Lee stood up and was walking around to see if anyone was cheating. The hunger in my stomach seemed to grow making it more difficult for me to focus even though I had an orange. After a few question my hunger overtook me and I couldn’t focus anymore. I looked up Mr. Lee was still patrolling the room but was a few rows between me and him. I slowly rolled up my jacket sleeve I jotted a few answers down then rolled my sleeve back down. Mr Lee was just two rows away from me. I rolled up my sleeve again and wrote down a few more answers. I was now sweating profusely from the heat and the idea of getting caught by Mr. Lee. I rolled up my sleeve again and rolled it down I was half way through the test. 

“What are you doing?” A voice hissed in my ear. And, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I whipped my head towards the voice. Staring right into my soul was Mr. Lee. I rubbed my arm with the answers profusely. 

“Why are you lifting your jacket sleeve up and down?” The deep scowl he ha don his face deepend. 

I was drenched in sweat. “I-I’m just so hot in this coat.” I stuttered. Instant regret filled my mind. 

I puzzled look sprung on his face. “Why don’t you take it off? You’d cool right off.” 

“I’d rather not.” I said quickly.

Mr. Lee’s face grew serious and grim. “Amy, take off the jacket.”  he said sternly.

I slowly unzipped the jacket. This is how it ends. I thought solemnly. I’m goignt o be the most trouble I ever been in my entire life. One arm came out. I can say goodbye to any college I was thinking of going to. The other arm came out and with that the jacket fell off. Mr. Lee looked at my arm taht had the answers on it. I looked at the ground. 

“Why is there ink on your arm?” He puzzled out loud. I looked back at my arm. All the answers had smudged until it became unreadable because off my rubbing mixed with my sweat. 

“Am I in trouble?” I asked Mr. Lee praying that he said no. 

“Why would you be in trouble? He became even more confused. “I don’t know if you like drawing on your arm or not. But, do it after the test not during it.” And, with that, he walked away. I let out a huge sigh of relief. But, since the answers were all gone I had to guess the rest of the questions. As soon as I was done I took the paper and dropped it on Mr. Lee’s desk and walked on out Amber was right at the door frame. 

“How was the test?” She asked. 

“I almost died taking the test I didn’t get enough studying done and my heart was going a hundred miles per hour.” My shoulders slumped in exhaustion. 

“Sorry to hear that. Here let me take your bag, and we can head off to our next class.” Amber put my bag on one of her shoulders. We walked to our religion class, and on the blackboard, it said. “Grab your bibles and look at Proverbs 10:9” I grabbed one of the bibles went to my desk, and opened it to Proverbs 10. The passage said, “ Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” I starred at the passage in disbelief. 

“Thank you, God. Thanks an awful lot.” I grumbled but in my heart of hearts, I knew that it was my fault that I cheated and not God’s fault.

Culled from blog.reedsy.com by Wayne Steele

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