today’s assignment: Tell me how you felt about math through an experience.
I was running as fast as I could. My chest burned, and I was losing steam. I glanced at my watch careful not to lose my balance as I skipped every other step. Ten after twelve. Shit. My math final started ten minutes ago. And all I could think about was that he was in there. He probably wasn’t even concerned that I was late. He probably didn’t even care what happened to me at all. I almost didn’t care that my hours of studying resulted in no confidence at all. I would fail the exam no matter how many hours I studied. So why study? He’d make an A. I’m sure his mind wasn’t clouded with the memory of our heinous fight from earlier that day. He’d do fine. He was good at math. Finally, I’d reached the fourth floor. My hair stuck to the sweat on my forehead. I didn’t lose speed. I just kept running. I approached the closed door of the classroom, took a breath and rushed in. I felt all eyes on me. I hated it when you could feel the judgement of others. They had no clue what I’d been through that day. He didn’t ever look up. I took my usual seat right next to him. He was so close but so far away. I was invisible to him. I’d never been invisible to him before. It hurt.
My professor rushed over to my desk and placed the exam in front of me. She gave me a reassuring smile. Uncomfortable, I broke eye contact. I clutched my pencil and stared at the first question so long the font started to blur. I scanned the first page. no. The second page. no. The third page. no. no. no. no. I knew none of it. I couldn’t even remember going over it in class. All I could remember were the awful things we’d said to each other. I couldn’t get the replay of him leaving and slamming the door behind him out of my head. I felt my breathing start to accelerate and before I could stop myself, the tears flooded from my eyes. I looked up, hoping they would seep back in. I couldn’t catch my breath. I lost it. He never looked up. I frantically wiped my eyes. I had to remember something. Anything. This was the only math class required for my major. I’d basically selected my major on that one fact alone. I hated math. I scanned the room. Everyone worked so diligently. Their pencils danced happily across their papers with each right answer. I knew nothing. My pencil laid idle on my desk. I rested my head in my hands and felt the tears squeeze through my fingers. I felt a hand gently pat my back.
“Joey, come with me.”
This was it. I was failing my math class. And he didn’t care. I followed my professor into the hallway.
“You are not okay, Joey.” My professor’s heavy foreign accent made those insulting words sound sweet. “Don’t panic. Just breathe. I have another section of this class taking their exam after the weekend. Would you like to just come back then after you’ve collected yourself?”
Are you serious? She understood? She wasn’t failing me? She was going to let me take the exam another day even after I came in late and caused a scene? My voice was trapped in my throat, so I just nodded my head. She collected me into a hug and told me everything would be okay. Before she released she whispered in my ear: “He loves you, you know that.”
I pulled away and flashed a weak smile through my tears. I walked blindly back to my desk and collected my things. I could feel the entire class’s eyes on me. Well, almost the entire class. He never looked up.
I made a B in the class.