NICOLE stifled a weak yawn as she waited for the empty classroom to be filled with students. It was not too long before the inaudible whispers were converted into an annoying buzz in the once silent room. Today was the second day of their examinations. They were only halfway through their examinations, but there were already purplish bags forming under her classmates’ eyes due to sleepless nights.

Most of the time, she would be irritated with students who were too grade-conscious or “GCs” as they were called. In her case, there was always an easier way to pass an exam. She had lived the life of cramming all her studies in an hour or less. Some people might easily dismiss such act as irresponsible. But what they didn’t know was that Nicole had always relied on her bracelet as her lucky charm, which had a way of always saving her. It had gold charms on it which she considered as the reason for its luck. This bracelet had helped her survive the previous examinations and deadlines that she did not take seriously.

She would not have survived her yesterday’s exam if it weren’t for the bracelet that she wore. Due to the fact that she slept over her studies the night before, she was obviously ill-prepared. She then decided to look over her seatmate’s paper for answers. To her surprise, she was lucky enough to fish out some answers without being caught by the proctor who supervised them. She was even told by her classmates who passed by the faculty room that she passed the exam by getting a score halfway the overall total.

Nicole gave herself a smile of relief. She felt confident that she would pass this next exam despite the fact that she only scanned some parts of the chapters they needed to read. She felt someone tap on her shoulder. It turned out to be her seatmate, who now showed panic attacks like everyone else did in the room. Her seatmate was very concerned about his grades for he was one of the top students in their section. She was sure that he would ask something regarding the exam that she didn’t completely understand.

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And so it begins...

“Were the last three chapters in the book included in the examination coverage?” he asked.

Nicole gave him a nervous smile. She couldn’t recall for she only scanned her books. The real truth was that she had no idea what the exact coverage of the exam was. She watched several movies the night before and crammed some information in her brain the following morning. Her seatmate continued to look at her in question.

To avoid embarrassment, Nicole shook her head in order to give him an answer. He smiled upon her response and proceeded to scanning his notes again. She did a small frown of guilt. She couldn’t believe how her classmates managed to spend hours on several chapters while she depended on luck without exerting effort. This made her remember the graded recitation they had two weeks ago.

They were required to read a chapter from the book that would soon cover their exam. She disliked reading it for it was too complicated for her; moreover, it tired her out easily. In the end, she just finished a page. She recalled the way her heart pounded when the professor called out their names in chronological order. When her turn came, she was delighted to know that the question that was given to her was the part of the chapter she managed to read. Ever since these instances had happened, she had always thought that the bracelet she carried contained some magical luck in it.

Her thoughts were disrupted by the sound of chairs being moved. The sudden rush of scraped metal against the cold floor indicated the start of their exam. Their proctor had an austere look on her face. She looked like she meant business when it came to classroom rules; nevertheless, Nicole maintained a cool aura. She knew her luck will save her.

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'Pilosopo' syndrome

The papers were distributed row by row. The exam papers were five pages long. As she scanned the paper, she felt a slight fear for she did not know half the questions in it. Nicole could tell that their exam for the day would be deadly had she not brought the bracelet. She silently wished herself luck and proceeded to the first question. As she wrote her name, she noticed something missing on her wrist. It seemed too plain, like it used to have something around it. She felt a jolt of pain in her stomach. Her hands began to sweat when she realized she was not wearing her bracelet. She tried to reach for her bag when the proctor shouted: “All bags on front.”

Nicole panicked and frantically searched for her bracelet in her bag. The proctor started to notice her. It felt like she was being scanned carefully. Realizing that she had lost her bracelet, she heaved out a sigh and placed her bag on the platform.

Half an hour had passed and she could barely answer the questions. The room was freezing cold but she felt beads of sweat pour from her neck. It had been a long time since she felt this nervous. With the bracelet gone, she could see failure stretching its hand toward her. She had to pass the exam and she needed to find a way. She first looked over for the proctor who now re-checked some papers before leaning towards her seatmate. It felt like a miracle that nobody noticed her as she copied his answers. Suddenly, a shadow formed on her paper. It was not long till she realized that the proctor was already behind her.

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University eyed as tourist destination

The proctor cleared her throat and confiscated her paper without a word.

“Pick up your things and wait outside till the exam ends,” she instructed.

Nicole tried to put up a straight face as she watched the proctor keep her paper in a brown envelope. She felt very upset but it would be embarrassing to show it in front of the class.

The moment she got out of the halls of their room, she felt disappointment wash over her. She couldn’t help but grieve over what happened. All of the things that occurred seemed all so surreal and fast. She lost her bracelet then she lost her grade.

Suddenly, the door opened. She avoided eye contact with her classmates as they began to fill the hallway. For every classmate that approached her, she avoided eye contact. Embarrassment and guilt crept up to her. She heard the proctor ask for her examination permit. This would be given to the dean’s office. Finally accepting her fate, she bent down to browse through her notebooks. A soft clink was heard.

Shock registered on her face when she saw her lucky bracelet on the ground. All this time her bracelet was in her bag. Marie Danielle L. Macalino

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