I had no reason to be worried about the not-so pop quiz scheduled for my 1 o’clock class, I still had this nagging worrying feeling. I read over the material again at 9:30, a half hour before my first class of the day and well over 4 hours until the pop quiz itself. I also had the nagging feeling of my head beginning to act up again. I could only hope to shake the headache by 1 pm.
“I see you reading here every morning,” I look up from the text book. The bench outside my next class was across from another Professors office. Every morning, I would sit and review the material for Brit Lit, “Your GPA must be high, 3.5,” she smiles.
“3.8,” I correct.
“Good job,” she praises and slides the key into her door, “Miss studious,” she laughs and walks into her office, leaving the door open.
I go back to reading. My head throbs, wiping the smile from my face. I put the book down and dig out my wallet. I get two pills out and swallow them. I pull the book back into my lap but I can’t focus on the words. The pain is distracting and my vision begins to blur.
One o’clock sneaks up on me before I can realize it. That happens with a migraine, I lose time. It’s not that I lose consciousness or anything, the pain just blurs everything together. It’s when I surface from the pain do I realize how much time has passed before I sink back under.
I get to my class 4 minutes before it starts. I collapse into my seat, my head throbs with the movement. I fish out my wallet, get a half a vicodin and swallow it with some water. I would begin to pray for it to work, for something but all there is, is pain.
I got the warning to leave but it was so early in the morning, I decided to stay for my classes. I should haven’t even come to campus today.
I am paralyzed by pain but the part of me that doesn’t hurt is paralyzed by fear. Fear of failing this quiz. So far, I have a perfect in the class, aced every paper and test. Now I’m going to fail. It’s not for a lack of reading or studying, I poured over the material three times, it’s because of this migraine, this fucking headache. I’m going to fail because my head is at war with me, is punishing me, malfunctioning on me.
The quiz is passed out. Part of my mind starts to rationalize the inevitable failure. It’s okay because I have a headache. It’s fine because I’ve aced all the other quizzes and the professor drops the lowest quiz at the end of the semester. I’ll just study extra hard for the next one, ace it. Then the failure will be erased. It’ll be fine.
As I chant the mantra, “it’ll be fine” in my head, I feel panic turn my stomach, bubble up, burning my throat. Is it bile or panic? Or both?
I don’t hear my friend enter, she gives me one look and can see but I don’t know if she says anything, I don’t hear her. All I can hear is the pounding in my head like a drum. It’s all I can think about.
Failure. Pound. It’ll be fine. Pound. No, it won’t. Pound.
The pile of quizzes being waved in my face is what breaks me from my thoughts. I take one and pass the pile back, tightening my grip on them so they don’t slip out of my fingers. I look down at the quiz. Three questions. I pick up the pen and watch the tip tremble, my eyes sweep to my fingers tight around the barrel and then to my whole hand which shakes.
Pound. It’ll be fine. Pound. No, it won’t.
I stall for a moment, waiting for the vicodin to kick in, for the flood gates to open and the answers pour from my trapped mind. Another student stands up across the room, to turn their quiz in. I feel pressured for time now. There’s pressure inside my head and now all around me. I begin the quiz.
I completely bullshit the answers, hoping their vague and specific enough to count for something. My handwriting is nearly illegible. I hope that works in my favor too. I hope he just assumes I got it right because he knows I’m a smart kid.
At the bottom of the quiz there’s some space left.
“I read the material but had a migraine – couldn’t think. Sorry”
And turn it in, face down, and I feel ashamed. I can’t look the professor in the eye. I return to my seat and cradle my head in my hands, fighting back tears.