Jan 5, 2012

The Cage

By Reja Younis

I was petrified. My mind went blank, my hand froze and my palms grew sweaty. My stomach, full from pancakes Mother had forced down my throat, was now performing 360-degree summersaults and flips. I felt an overwhelming wave of nausea as I gripped my chest to keep from kneeling over. Cold chills ran down my spine and my mouth was dry. Absolutely parched.

Where was my water bottle? I reached down to grab the clear bottle and I held it up in the light to observe. There were a few sips left. It would have to do. I fumbled with the blue cap, my fingers wet with perspiration. It wouldn’t open – the cap was air locked. I twisted and pulled with all my might until it popped off and flew to the far end of the room. The invigilator robotically pacing down the rows gave me a taunting look and curled her lips up to reveal filthy, yellow teeth. Our eyes locked for a nanosecond. Her gaze was menacing, evil and a solemn word flashed into my mind… death.

I shrunk back in my cold, unwelcoming seat and looked around. Everyone was maniacally flipping pages back and forth with a crazed look in their eyes. They looked hypnotized and entranced. I could hear the sound of pens and pencils scribbling furiously. I cringed and took a long swig from my water bottle. It glided into my mouth soothingly and an aura of tranquility overwhelmed me. Then I was out of water. I placed the water bottle back on the floor with a soft thud. 

The silence could kill. With over forty rows of students, not a single sound escaped anyone’s mouth. I wanted to scream and climb on the top of a chair and shout, “ Get me out of here! I don’t know anything!”

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… the clock’s sound seemed to boom in my ears. I cupped my ears to block the sound, but it still penetrated through. I looked at the students one by one then. There was the girl sitting in front of me, destined by God to receive a distinction. She had not looked up once, not to look at the clock, nor to take a drink of water. She fiercely scrutinized her paper; it looked perfect by what I could make out. She furrowed her brows and frowned. I let out a long, frustrated sigh. Another invigilator stopped to look at me. This one had sharp, cheetah-like eyes that were tawny and speckled, masked by a shield of copper and wire. His broad nose crinkled in disgust as he continued his march – his black shoes clicking across the floor.
I glanced at the boy sitting next to me. He was finished, wearing a smug expression on his face, his countenance dripping with pride and confidence.
I felt the walls start closing in all of a sudden. Nausea overwhelmed me again as I decided to have another go at the question paper. When I picked up my blue pen, however, it slipped out of my grasp and clattered onto the floor noisily, I reached over to pick it up and began reading the question paper again. It was hopeless. There were still thirty minutes to go and I was imprisoned in the examination hall. I nervously looked at the invigilators sitting at the front desk. They were busy as well – it was as if they were also attempting the Biology paper.
What had they said in the beginning about emergency exits? I could not remember; but I was certain that I was going to throw up if I did not get out of this cage. I looked up at the melancholy blue lights and then over at the vile clock. I began to feel extremely dizzy as if I had just exited an amusement park ride. My Biology teacher’s sinister voice kept repeating in my head, “ You will fail! You will fail! You will fail!”
“No, no, no” I croaked desperately to my self. I put my head down on the desk. It was hard and grey. Sweat was dripping down my forehead, my right leg vibrated uncontrollably. I glared at the floor – it was mainly a dark grey with patches of white and title of red. The red looked like blood to me. What would Mom do if I failed Biology? Would she murder me? Would my blood splatter onto our pristine, marble floor?
I shook my head convulsively and rocked back and forth. My insides were turning and grinding.
“Five minutes” the invigilator declared. I let out a small yelp and fell back in my chair again. A tear escaped my eye and I jerkily brushed it off. I took in a long breath and smelled fresh, new papers and an antiseptic odour burned my nostrils till I shuddered.  
The cage was no longer a nightmare. It was a reality. I wondered if I would make it out alive. 


Areeba Jibril said...

Haha, I loved reading this!

Reja Y said...

Thanks areeba! =)

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