They perused the manuals, discussing frantically in the beige hall the intimate details of electrons and physics.
Because you never know when they'll spring a quiz on you. They were one of those guys, the teaching assistants, the kind of guys who lord their knowledge over the rest of us. Safeguarding and screening their alchemy by running the lesser beings through a drill regime. Reports must be written on par with the elegance and skill of a Nobel laureate, and quizzes at any time.
So the young undergrads studied with the fervor of a monastery towards their lord god Chemistry. Day and night devoted to pleasing its fickle priests. And yet despite our prayers and sacrifices upon its altar, we continued to fail.
They responded by sacrificing even more blood, tears, and sweat. I responded by caring less. 'Screw it all. I have better things to do,' I said two weeks ago after the aftermath of another failed quiz. They looked at me, their eyes dull with confusion and four weeks of sleep deprivation. For only the briefest of moments, I saw the longing and desire to cast it all to the wind and join me.
But we're a different breed and my blunt declaration was soon forgotten in the mad race to hurriedly cram in that hallway scant ten minutes from judgement. Hell if any of us knew there was a quiz, but none of them dared risk it. Even I, despite my bold assertion, there lingered a small voice screaming, 'STUDY! YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON THIS.'
And what did I do with my new found free time? I laughed. Watching their minds scurry from topic to topic and trying to divine which out of the reams of information would be chosen for our test and leafing through the texts with sweaty nervous hands. Had I truly been one of them just some time ago? Acting as if our lives depended on these three credits?
Just the night before, I had the most wonderful meal. Baked sweet potatoes and green beans ripe and full with juice served with a small cut of beef peppered with the the slightest yet most tantalizing spices and so tender it melted on your tongue. And desert! A sweet slice of pumpkin pie. Perhaps all only marred by my choice of Diet Coke to ease it down.
And afterward, I watched television! The joy of having someone else think and decide and I had to but observe the spectacle. Logged into Second Life and chatted and shopped. When everyone logged off, I retreated to my Thinking Island (you'll never find it) and watched the virtual sun rise and fall. Just because I could.
Sleep came easy and for so long. Nearly ten hours spent drifting through the reality constructed by my deepest subconscious. I dreamed peaceful dreams not plagued by the nightmares which rose during my formerly frequent 'cram jams'. Nightmares of poor grades, poor GPAs, dropped scholarships, loss of face and respect, fear that perhaps you don't know what's going on. And those other special demons which have visited me for the past three years, and some longer still. It was a deep and peaceful sleep last night. The kind where you don't need coffee and a shower to drag yourself out into the world.
Yes, mine was a much more relaxed world since I cast off any attempt at preparing for any kind of pop quiz. And they thought me strange, and during their trips to and from the library in ceaseless study would nod their heads ever so disapprovingly that I would be so reckless as to not place hours upon hours of preparation and surely fail as a result. Yet in the tiniest corner of their minds, just as my own screamed to study, theirs begged to join me.
There was no quiz this week.