The heat is an oppressive kind. It weighs her down as her hand moves swiftly, the pen eagerly scratching the paper and letting the words form and dry on the dotted lines.
She can feel it, the singular bead of sweat slowly rolling down her back, mirroring the sweat she can feel forming on her forehead. It’s a distraction, an annoyance. It only adds to the other elements of the large exam room that pulls her attention away from the questions in front of her, piling onto the mountain of noises she’s been trying to ignore: the heavy breathing of the other 100 students, the constant shuffle of paper, the pattern of footsteps as the invigilators walk around the room, the ticking of the clock, the scraping of chairs on the wooden floor.
Just a little bit longer, she thinks, a little longer until I’m done.
Desperation pushes her forwards, an uncorrupted motivation for her to keep answering and checking and writing until time runs out. It’s the last exam of the season; the final barricade before summer. She anticipates the liberating feeling that will come shortly, the screaming and hugging and crying that everyone releases once they step past the doors of the exam room. A small corner of her mouth lifts up slightly, a smile suppressing itself as she continues doing her paper.
Finally, finally, she hears what she has been waiting for: “Unless you have extra time, you have five minutes remaining.” Now, her face cracks into a proper smile: the moment they’ve all been waiting for has graced them with its presence at last.