“Lie down, children,” calls the monotone voice from the speaking at the front of the classroom. “Testing will begin in 100… 99… 98…”
I find my table. Number 4. Front row. I can’t believe testing day is finally here. I’ve been fighting a nervous smile all morning. I hop onto the cold metal surface making a metallic pop as the table adjusts to my weight. The girl at table 14 clicks her tongue at me scornfully. She climbs onto her table without a sound. I watch as she adjusts her white robe, making sure her knee caps never show.
“87… 86… 85…”
I swing my own legs up and stretch out my toes. My knee caps are showing. When table 14 girl turns to look over her shoulder disparagingly at table 22 boy when his sweat covered hands cause him to slip with a terrific metallic rumble, I quickly pull down my own white robe. I press my fingers to my lips to stop the smile-twitch. I have to do better than table 14 girl.
“68… 67… 66…”
Table 5 boy is facing me with crisp blue eyes. He’s clasping his hands to try and stop the trembling. Today is a big day. We’ve practiced hundreds of times but it’s one thing to pretend and another to actually do it. And we have to pass.
“57… 56… 55…”
Table 78 girl shares a dorm with me. She told me that if we don’t pass, we don’t get a career. I can feel a bubble of panicky giggles building behind my belly-button. I lie down and press a fist hard into my stomach. I can’t laugh now.
“42… 41… 40…”
Not getting a career is just about the worst thing ever. My parents work at BioChem II. I met them 3 months ago. After testing, I can go and live with them instead of table 78 girl. The temperature is being lowered and I can feel my table all down my back and legs.
“30… 29… 28…”
Table 78 girl says that BioChem II is really important and reports directly to the PM. She says I giggle too much to get a career at BioChem II. I punch my traitorous stomach once more before spreading my fingers flat-palmed on the table. The cold helps.
“10… 9… 8…”
It’s so quiet I can make out the erratic breathing of table 5 boy. He needs to calm down.
“4… 3… 2…”
I close my eyes and focus on the voice.
Story continued here!