I’m going over in my mind the words I wrote in the English exam. Yes, 9.20am is over and now it is 3.20pm. Tracy [Scott] and I bought lunch at the Outlet and drove out to Rotary Park to eat it there. There’s new park benches now, that have new paint and new cement around their feet. We had chicken and salad sandwiches and orange juice and pavlova. The sandwiches were delicious but the pavlova, to me, tasted funny, like the smell of those floral air fresheners.
Anyway, the real air was fresh and clean and free. I stared around at the great big twisted white-trunked gum trees. The wide river bed was dry, gravely and warm. We walked out on it and found a stagnant pool that contained tiny darting fish. I gazed dreamily up the river bank, where the gum trees stretched themselves towards the centre of the dry brown bed. Long, lush green grass grows around the water pump … Tracy called, “Come and help me catch the little fishies!” So I did, but didn’t quite relish putting my hand in the blackness of the water.
She put them in her clear plastic orange juice container; they flipped and wriggled. We went home after that. I enjoyed the ride home, feeling free and mature, sitting in the front, the driver a friend, not an adult. Carnarvon whizzed past. I didn’t ever want to reach the flat.
But I’m here now and thinking about that English exam. I can hardly bare [sic] to now, even though as I walked out of the Civic Centre I was quite confident. In one essay I went right off the track – I know now, when I think about it, what should have been written in it and how it varies from what I did write! As much as I hate to go back over it, I will tell you what I wrote. The question asked whether or not an Australian culture existed. Where I should have perhaps explained Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson I instead went off on a tangent, with Anzac Day and (how could I?) Barry Humphries. So I guess I bombed out on that rather miserably. The other question I chose was concerned with sexism in language. Perhaps I’ll get a fairly good mark for that. Perhaps. Lastly, I did the compulsory section, where we had to pick out the implications and undercurrents in a dialogue between two strangers. We also had to discuss casual conversation based on what we’d learnt from the passage and from our own experience. I did not really understand the passage. Without this basic grasp, one is doomed from the start. But I waffled on for maybe four pages; structureless, confusing and aimless waffle. How could even the most sympathetic examiner give me much of a mark for that?
But what is most painful, in remembering what I wrote, is the smarty-pantsy way in which I wrote my essays. I wrote like a know-all, in a self-satisfied kind of way. It makes me so embarrassed to think of it – why did I have to go like that? I salve the pain by remembering that the paper is marked as an anonymous number. The examiners will be marking so many nameless numbers that mine will not be of any importance. Then my mark will be attached to the name of “Tracy Sorensen” – only the mark, and not the dreadful essays I did today. The writing will not be attached to my name. But still I feel ashamed of it.
And I am tired. All the worries in the world, I wish they could go away so I could lay down and go to sleep for ever. But tomorrow there’s another exam, and all next week other exams, and on the Monday after; perhaps when it is all over I’ll be neurotic rather than relieved. And now the next thing is tomorrow, 9.20am.