Was a bit jittery as I walked in. I had just seen two of my peers who were taking their exam in the common room walk down the hall, not a sign of panic on them. So I was feeling like we were on the same level for a second and maybe I shouldn’t even be in this separate room. Until it started.
The exam officer looked up from his book, blank faced. He isn’t expecting me.
That’s alright. I’ll just explain who I am.
Instead a leap of adrenaline surged through my veins and I blurted out, “kit101. Here for exam. Nancy Cooper.”
The blankness twisted into annoyance.
“No, you’re not meant to be in here.”
Jitters turned into trembles. Every body in the room simultaneously became a threat. Surrounded. Legs going into flight mode, I managed to say: “Definitely. Am.”
Twelve years old again. Screaming.
No. You’re twenty one.
“You’re not on the list, take a seat out there. I need to call for help.”
Don’t scream. Don’t you do it. It’s a little walk to the chair. I had sat in this seat many times. It is red and hard and staying is like seating in fire.
Couldn’t breathe long enough to tell the exam officer to stop touching me. It was not comforting. Just cowered. Again and again and again for half an hour. Panic attack after panic attack.
Eventually when I could breathe I got to experience the humiliation of the ‘helper’ who thought I was just a delicate flower that needed to be cuddled.
Breathe darling, that’s it
I wish it was appropriate to scream I’m experiencing the stuff of nightmares in my mind and have the adrenaline to rip your face off stop touching me.
But alas she just followed me to the bathroom and insisted I not lock the door. With six years of therapy behind my back I emerged slightly more composed; only to come face to face with my lecturer. Helper and Lecturer stared at me.
Yay. Now everyone knows I lost my shit.
“I’m going back in.”
“Oh, good darling, good girl, keep breathing!”
She smelled of Christian.
I can’t remember how I took that exam. I was so exhausted. I probably failed.