I gazed vacantly at the exam paper laid out in front of me. The words blended into a swirling pool of black and white that cascaded from the small wooden desk onto the dusty, tiled floor below. The only thing that was permeating my viscous mind was the incessant noise. I imagine it would have seemed silent to anyone else, but I could hear everything – papers rustling, chairs creaking, invigilators pacing, sniffing, coughing, breathing, sighing, tapping, scratching.
I was all too much. I jumped to my feet, causing an almighty screeching noise as the chair pushed backwards. My breathing quickening as I felt the eyes of three hundred students glare up at me. I swiftly turned and marched away from the desk towards the exit, discarding my untouched exam paper. I could hear ‘eyes forward!’ echoed behind me as I grabbed my bag and pushed past a nervous invigilator, who quickly jumped out of my way.
As I opened the doors to the outside world, the cool air hit me like a hurricane against battered cliffs. I gasped and looked up at the grey sky with tear-filled eyes. The words ‘you are useless, you are worthless, you are pathetic’ echoed in my mind like a record stuck on repeat. Three years of my university education, slipping away with each exam I failed to complete.
I proceeded to walk home, disconsolate and alone. The litter and discarded leaflets swept around my feet, emulating my scattered and fragile thoughts. The tears fell heavier as I took a detour through the playing fields, picking dandelion heads on the edge of the path. I squeezed the seedlings in my hand, extinguishing any form of life they once carried.
I came to rest on the bridge overlooking the river. I peered over at the beautiful torrid below and combed through the established catalogue of questions that resided in my mind – will I ever be happy? Would anyone notice if I disappeared? Should I just jump?
I took a deep breath and dropped the crushed dandelion into the river. I watched it disappear amid the silver torrent, wishing my worries would do the same.