She tried calming her nerves;
Her tapping pen matched both her speeding heart
And that time bomb her teacher called a clock.
A quick glance verified that she only had four and a half more minutes. Staring down at the test, she drew a few shaky breaths. It was amazing how exceptionally unfocused she was for a girl who was simultaneously aware of two facts: the test in front of her would barely scrap up a D and failure was not an option. “Fuck it,” was her only thought on her walk to hand in the test.
She tried to convince herself it didn’t really matter anymore.
Christina thanked some higher power that she decided to sit in the back row today where no one could she her. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter,” she kept reminding herself. It was no use though, frustration got the best of her and tears silently rolled down her tiny face. The rest of the class was simply a blur to her.
“Chrissy,” Mr. Lukas stepped out of his office, partially blocking her way out the door, “a word?” Smart enough to realize that this question was really a demand, Christina followed the Chemistry teacher into a narrow and petite room. A makeshift desk scattered with stacks of papers, which jutted out in different directions, was flattened against the wall, allowing just enough space for the two of them to pack in there. If one were to imagine the office of Daniel Lukas, it would be believed to have enormous depth and organized to a T.
The high school Chemistry teacher took a stool, which, although being nearly double the height of the desk, was being used as a chair. He beckoned for Chrissy to take the one by the door. As she slid onto it, Chrissy knew one thing, if she looked at him, there would be no avoiding a breakdown.
“I don’t understand,” he started slowly.
Chrissy searched for a window without avail.
“All your previous teachers swear you are more than capable of acing this class.”
She swept her eyes to the fair wall and began to count the bricks.
“Mrs. Donnelly said she’s never observed someone take more of an interest in biology than you have.”
Twenty-four. Twenty-five. Twenty-six. Twenty-six and a half ended the row.
“Mr. Koch gave me demonic looks for even questioning your motivation and drive.”
Chrissy lost count and decided to be nosy and scan the pages she could see for her classmate’s grades.
“Christina, look at me,” Mr. Lukas’s voice was harsh.
She looked at him, but not before catching sight of a ninety-two on the previous test on which she received a thirty-four.
Brown eyes met blue eyes.
Naive met experience.
Her answers met his curiosity.
And finally, tears met empathy.
“Chrissy, what happened to you? You’re so much better than this.” A fact she knew that too well. Crying harder than before, she needed to take a moment and compose herself to steady her voice.
In an even tone she whispered “That’s what depression does to you. It robs you of your future” and just like that the Harvard-bound scholar was shackled to community college.