Thursday, 5 June 2008

The First End, The Second Beginning: end of year student short story

She glanced at the clock. 10 minutes left. 10 minutes consisting of 600 seconds. 600 seconds before it as all over. 600 seconds before her hand would stop aching in her great struggle to drain her knowledge through pen and ink onto the cold white exam paper that has been fixed before her eyes for the past 110 minutes or 1 hour and 50 minutes to be exact. Anticipation of the finish was already swelling inside her like an underwater current, waiting to erupt over the brain in a great sense of relief, joy, happiness and the thought of long summer days ahead.
Sarah had come such a long way since those first nervous days and terrified nights and shy hours spent at the D-bar. Her flat mates all turned out to be good enough friends even though the flat above her seemed like a circus come Friday night with music throbbing through her ceiling and the impression that they had a small herd of baby elephants herding from one room to the next up and down the corridor. But that’s to be expected when you live in a block of rebellious, live-for-the-moment, drink-as-much-as-you-can-in-an-hour students. All this would be a distant memory soon.
Since that first fearful conversation with Emily and Hannah on the Storthes Bus that autumn morning they have been great friends ever since which had proven to be worthwhile when it came to April when they decided to start revision sessions together outside of class. With the odd set of pizzas and litre bottles of pop to help speed things along. Sarah doubted she would be as this prepared for her exam without their support, encouragement and help. She smiled to herself in the pleasing knowledge of still having this support next year.
Not long into January Emily suggested they try organising a house to rent for themselves next year. Hannah was all up for it but Sarah was a bit unsure. She didn’t know much about student housing within the town centre and was worried about the cost of it all. Having spoken to her parents about it the following night her Mum persuaded her to seek advice and information from Student Services at the Union. The following morning she called upon her courage again to ask the questions and express her fears, concerns and worries about living in a house in the town. The women there were very understanding and gave her lots of helpful tips, advice, leaflets and suggestions about what to do if she decides to go along with Emily. Armed with so much information and surprisingly a sense of real excitement regarding the very idea of living in town Sarah grabbed Emily and Hannah and had a good long discussion about the idea. In the end of course Sarah agreed which delighted Hannah and Emily all the more. As all three friends lived in opposite directions to each other which would mean seeing each other over the summer would be difficult.
The very next week the three girls registered themselves with the Student Pad website which was supported by the Students Union and began their very first house search. The following week they had three separate viewings and by the next they had already chosen their house which was located just up the road behind Uni in the pleasant area of Newsome. When it came to signing the contract Sarah followed her advice and took a copy of it to the Student Services to go through and check through that all the small print and details were acceptable. The next few days Emily and Hannah went to their rental agencies office to put down their deposit and pay the contract. Sarah did the same the day after having to wait for the post to come through which contained the deposit money gladly donated by her parents.
It all seemed so long ago now to her as she scribbled the last sentences onto the page put her pen down and stretched her arms up into the air. Once the exams were over she would start scouting for a local job preferably in New Look or Waterstones, she’d had enough of selling supermarket goods during her gap year previously. In a months time she would be packing her things and move into the new house with her friends. Then on days off they would spend time shopping, partying, having barbeques in the sunshine or making trips to Blackpool beach and eat ice-cream or candyfloss as they paddled in the waves.
A woman’s voice broke through her visions of the future announcing the exam time limit is over and can all students put their pens down and remain silent as the papers were collected. There was a great collective sigh from all involved with the process. Sarah leaned back in her chair and smiled. This is the life, she thought, the student life. If only it could last forever without the exams of course and perhaps a bigger more regular supply of money.

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