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  • Writer's pictureBreanna Crossman

Before the Exam by Danna Taboada

He sits there, taping his number 2 pencil against his thigh. He begins to scroll on his phone endlessly, stare into the abyss, and glance at his grandfather’s watch. Then, like an open 

door swarmed with light, like a glowing angel on the top of a golden staircase, she arrives. Their eyes lock as she squeezes herself through the crowds of people in her way. Once their 

shoulders touch and their backs rest against the wall, he begins to grin, popping jokes like it’s a contest of who could make their other wheeze when they breathe, and letting her hands fall into the palm of his. 

He’s grinning. Grinning the way he used to when he turned his whole torso around to face me during the last couple minutes of our Spanish class. He’s popping jokes like it's a contest the way he used to when I explained to him my many struggling days from my enclosed, little world. A world he saved me from without even intending to. I let my hand fall into the palm of his, missing his catch every time. 

He was a child. A child willing to help the fragile man with the sick dog who just so happened to drive a white van. A child unaware of the way one could bend someone’s heart until it almost breaks. He was the autumn leaves that sat by your window sill in September, bright and full of color. Now I stand here and it's the beginning of June and all I can think about is how much I miss the eagerness in his gentle voice that sounded like a melody. The melody that kept the heart beating and the world spinning. The way he genuinely cared about the things that slipped from my big, loud mouth, right down to the syllable. 

Now it’s as if all that was burned to ashes, a paper that was crumpled up so hard from the strong force of an eraser. Now he simply waves hello and walks out the front door. Now he gives me one-word responses and a presence that wraps around your throat and screams “Leave me alone.” 

It’s all so stupid how I wasted so much time on him. I followed him around like a fool, swarming my mind with the million things we could talk about. I pushed my studies far behind me and stayed up all night, consoling him over the phone when he had discovered his first girlfriend had lost all her feelings for him. I wish I could lose all my feelings for him, too. 

I don’t want to waste my time on you anymore, I thought to myself as I glimpsed at the clock on my phone. I don’t think he ever questioned why we no longer speak. I don’t think he ever noticed. 

But whether it’s in a month or a year, I know somehow my thoughts of him will no longer ache inside of me. And when I see him down the halls, I’ll no longer envision the day he holds me in his arms. He will have become an experience I’m grateful to have been given.

Until then, I shrug it off, moving on like I’ve been doing for most of my time here. My friends are nearby, just seconds away. I pull out my pencils from my back pocket. The test is about to start soon.

Danna Taboada (she/her) is a sixteen-year-old writer from New York. She loves listening to music of any genre, dancing, spending time with her family and friends, reading, and writing. She plans on majoring in Creative Writing in the future.on majoring in Creative Writing in the future.

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