He awoke and prepared to school, just like any other Monday, but he was smiling even more so than usual. Today’s the day... he thought as he walked the short distance from his house to school. It was cold out, but his bare arms never really did feel it; and even in the rain he’d reject the warmth of the crowded bus for the cold of the peaceful morning.
His stomach churned and clenched with every step, but his mind was set. It was set three months before. It was set days before when he started to doubt his thinking. To him, everything was muted and dim, yet radiant at the same time. He was going to complete the task he gave himself, even if he was the only one.
Three months before, he had an idea that could overthrow an entire system. That was if anyone joined in. For the next two months, he started writing blogs and bulletins on several websites, using various usernames and passwords to protect his identity. As the weeks went by, there were very little responses to such a grand idea. The weekend before the given day was when he started to have second thoughts about it. He was mostly worried about what the reaction from his parents and peers would be. Would they see him differently, shun him, even punish him? In the end, he convinced himself he would stick to his decision, no matter what the consequences. It was his right to do so; anyone else could do so if they wished.
Thoughts rushed and whizzed through his mind as he walked the crowded halls. He thought he could see people cringe, grimace, and stare at him, but he knew it was his mind playing tricks. After locking away his things, he mixed with the line moving into the library, the stage for the event. Signs on the door warned against bringing in food, drinks, electronics, and reminded to bring in #2 pencils. A big sign above the doors had the command: “Quiet while test in process.”
As he walked up the rows of desks and their occupants, he was unaware of the events he had set in motion. A great stir had started three months ago the minute he sent the multiple blogs and bulletins. The news spread like wildfire among the nation. The lack of excitement at his own school was what made him think he failed to spread the news efficiently, but he was afraid any signs in the halls would bring the principal right to him. Oblivious to the actions taking place, he sat down and stared into space as the teacher read aloud the directions to the test. Millions of students, in thousands of schools were doing the same thing at that moment, just listening, their own stomachs tight with apprehension and nerves.
No one moved when the teacher stopped to scan the crowd and continue with the strict instructions. After another short pause, she eyed the clock on the wall and at the right time announced: “You have one hour for part one. Then you will be allowed a short break, then you will start part two. You may begin.”
No other students in the library moved to open their booklet or their pencils. Each just sat straight up, not even looking at each other. Only he looked around at his fellow students in astonishment. Not even the best students, the ones who would’ve obeyed the instructions, opened their booklets. All were statues that wouldn’t move, no matter how many threats the teachers issued. With his eyes tearing, he turned to the front of the library and sat up straight in pride. And so did millions of other students.
Not one student passed the test.
6 January 2007