Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Wow! (03/11/10)
By Sara Harricharan
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I don’t know if I wished or prayed at that point. I did know that I’d skipped mouthwash was now sick of tic-tac. Dad had dropped me at the college while running errands and I’d been relieved for extra study time. There’d barely been time to eat, and dress—though I couldn’t have left without doing either, CLEP’s were long tests.
My stomach attempted to calm itself when I pulled out last night’s practice test to review. The pages stuck together as words did the polka while I tried to focus on black words and white pages. With Dad’s driving and rural country roads, I was sicker than mud pudding by the time we were halfway to town.
Things turned worse.
Dad’s storytelling was an excellent distraction that unfortunately left me fuming by the time we reached campus. The last story was about a sneaky fellow who stole a promotion. I stumbled from the car to the sidewalk.
“Good luck, punkin!” Dad gave me his best smile. “See you in two hours.”
My legs straightened out by the time the elevator arrived at the lobby. I rode up to the third floor. Stepping out into empty, carpeted halls, I headed for the testing office. My favorite, Nikki Halloway, was nowhere in sight, as a laminated sign instructed me to ring the bell, take a seat and wait.
A skinny tech guy poked his head through the door. When his partner appeared, I tried to smile. I didn’t like either of them. I wanted Nikki. It didn’t take more than five minutes to discover that neither of them had a clue how to access the testing system, nor could they understand how I’d scheduled a CLEP on spring break.
By the time they reasoned it out, I was definitely stuck on campus. There was no way Dad would be able to pick me up and I had nothing to do, nowhere to go.
Daddy…please, please let the servers work! Don’t let me come all the way down here for nothing…and don’t let me forget the stuff I read on the way here.
The men made phone calls and I stressed. They flipped buttons and called higher tech support.
I stressed some more.
A student volunteer stopped in and we chatted. I liked her. She reminded me of Nikki. The final kinks in my stomach smoothed out and I heard myself laugh. She even congratulated me on being homeschooled. I felt special.
Suddenly, the big bad CLEP didn’t seem so terrifying after all.
The tech fellow came over and after a few moments of awkward conversation, asked if I’d reschedule the test. My mouth answered yes and my feet followed suit. The test was rescheduled and I found myself standing outside in the hallway with a post-it note in my hand.
I called Dad to explain. He said he was two minutes away.
That was a relief. I examined the ‘gift’ in my hand to see that the charming student volunteer had given me a website for scholarships and wished me luck in the future—with a smiley face at the bottom. I didn't even know her name and she didn't know mine.
I floated out of the building. Dad arrived. We drove for all of five minutes before it hit me over the head.
Thoughts flooded through my head, connecting dots, stringing up new graphs and sorting out puzzles.
I’d stressed over this stupid test since the semester had started. I hadn’t studied for it either. I’d only started cramming this past week, not the way I wanted to spend Spring Break. But I couldn’t reschedule—for the fourth time. Failing meant I couldn’t retake it for a half year and I’d have wasted at least a hundred bucks.
The precision of it sunk in. Clockwork.
Thanks. You knew I wouldn’t have rescheduled on my own…and servers don’t just crash like that. I would’ve wasted a hundred bucks, torn myself to pieces and whined for the rest of the semester. I wasn’t ready for this…and you knew that. You did what I didn’t even dare to think of asking for…a deluxe permission slip to excuse myself from certain doom. You love surprising me. Thank you, Daddy. I think I’ll be stuck in happy mode for the rest of today.
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