My hand was tight holding a pen, trying to answer questions on a form. But my mind just went blank. I couldn’t process any thoughts anymore. The numbers and letters were still taunting me, telling me I was not good enough. Then a man stood in front and started to read names. My eyes still fixed on the floor, aiming to amplify every syllable that he spoke in the hope that I would hear a very familiar name. My name. Those who were called walked out of the room, with glints of triumph in their eyes. Every name called was a prayer that the next would be mine. But I didn’t hear my name. I wasn’t called. And then he uttered mumbling sounds. I heard the word ‘reapply’ and ‘six’. The rest turned into a long buzz. The numbers and letters in my head were jumping up and down, rejoicing to a noise of an indiscernible beat.
I heaved a deep breath filling my lungs with oxygen that powered my hesitant leg muscles to stand up. I walked out of the room. Moments later I was inside an elevator with the rest who failed the examination. An awkward silence hanged over us like a swarm of bees. No one dared to speak. Except for one.
“Jessica passed because the set of exams given to them were different. Much easier I bet.” A young woman behind me whispered.
I felt a sudden urge to stab her with a pen, wondering how she could find such words be comforting, when in fact they were just figments of an attempt to nurse a torn ego and a pathetic way of seeking lost redemption.
Once again, I saw my self in their faces reflected on the elevator’s gleaming walls. Defeated. Inflicted by emotional rabies. Mouth frothing with self-doubt likes a dog ready to die. It was a long way down. Jumping out through a window would’ve been a faster and easier way--straight to the ground.
I suddenly found myself wading E. Rodriguez. The afternoon sun was angry on my skin while gastric acid devoured the lining of my stomach. A perfect condition for a miserable person that I was. Few minutes later, I was sitting comfortably inside an air-conditioned bus, almost heaven compared to the blistering hell outside. I was heading home at last. As I sat there watching blurred images of people and places that passed by, I contemplated on what just happened.
I failed. I thought I could easily accept it but I was surprised that I couldn’t. It was hard to accept the fact that I was defeated by number series, scrambled letters, word analogies, word meanings, and common sense. My ego was desperately trying to reason out.
Could these things really measure what’s inside my head? The capabilities and the skills that I have honed through fifteen years of learning? There’s not even a single question about my profession! Does failing this prove that I am not good enough? But they’re not going to use this type of test for nothing, right? They’re not stupid. Perhaps I am. I feel like I am.
I felt nauseated. There was a building desire to vomit the ugly feeling of doubt and despair in the pit of my stomach. I wished that I could. It would’ve been easy to stick a finger in my throat and just let it all out. But it was a long way home.
After nine hours, I was inside an emergency room filled with patients whimpering in pain, which unfortunately included my mother. I wished I was the one lying on that bed, crying, wearing needle-pieced skin, and suffering the intolerable pain caused by urolithiasis. It wouldn’t matter I figured. It was a fucked up day after all for me.
“How was your exam, Ron?” My mom asked, forcing a smile, looking up to her son. She looked so proud and optimistic. My expression was the total opposite. She was looking at the person that fulfilled her dream to become a nurse. But not quite. I just felt sad as I entertained the shadows whispering from the white walls.
“They said they will call me if I pass.” I lied and faked a grin. I couldn’t tell the truth. A disappointment wouldn’t anesthetize the pain, would it? She gave a smile and closed her eyes. She fell asleep and I sat on a foot stool by the bed. I opened a pink-colored book and started to read, thinking a few pages might carry me through the night.
Failures and tribulations come and go like a dark night. And twilight would draw closer and life would be once again renewed by the sparks of a new sun.