Circle A, B, C, or D. Circle True or False.
The words may as well be in a foreign language because M can't seem to make any sense of them. He stares at the exam, willing something to click, his brain to un-freeze.
Someone clears their throat and the sound pulls his attention away from the page. He glances up at the clock on the wall above the blackboard and then at the teacher in the front of the room, who sits there highlighting sentences in a text book. The felt tip squeaks as it's dragged across the paper.
M looks back at the exam before him. He adjusts his sitting position, crossing and then re-crossing his legs. He should have used the bathroom before class.
He skips a question and scans the following one. He skips that one too and moves on to the next.
M's pencil has been sharpened down to a nub, so there's hardly anything for his thumb and forefinger to hold onto. His hand cramps from the claw-like grip he's forced to use. He circles a letter then, second-guessing himself, tries to erase it, but his eraser has been rubbed flat. The metal bit on the end of the pencil shreds the paper, making the words underneath illegible.
Just as his panic begins to mount, he is startled by a sudden vibration under his seat. The person behind him is kicking the bottom rung of his chair. It starts with a gentle tap, tap, tap, but soon grows harder and more insistent.
He spins around in his seat to look at the student. A freckled girl is sitting there doodling dreamily on the back of the exam, which she has already finished.
"Young man!" M turns around again and finds the teacher hovering over his desk. The teacher has a hungry look in his eyes and spittle in the corner of his lips.
"We have a very strict policy here for cheating on exams. Cheaters will have their answers disqualified and will be given a grade of zero." Heads at neighboring desks jerk upwards and turn in the direction of the disruption. M feels his face and ears and neck grow poker hot, but he can't seem to string any words together, his mind numb with shock and shame.
His gaze still fixed on M, the teacher grabs the exam and tears it clean in two.