We continue down the towpath. My feet are getting sore in the wellies, though, and when we reach the common, I let Aristotle run around without a lead, and I sit on the stile for a while. I’d briefly forgotten about my exam, and now I’ve remembered, my stomach starts to flip about like a fish.
Why am I so nervous? It’s only an exam. My life doesn’t depend on it (no matter how much the teachers make us feel it does). I could not show up for it, and the world wouldn’t end.
Once the idea is in my head, it’s hard to shake it.
I could miss the exam. I could disappear for the day. Yes.
I have about half an hour before Dad and Clare will get up for work. I make a plan in my head: get dressed, find some money, and get a bus into town. I’ll hide for the day. I could find a quiet spot in the central library, and read. I could sit on the common all day. The sun’s shining. Come to think of it, a few hours of Vitamin D seems like a better use of my life than sweating it in an exam hall.
Yet Dad’s voice keeps shouting down these thoughts. Even in my wildest, silly moments, his voice is always there. He’d be saying something about sixth form entrance requirements, or UCAS, or my CV. All things that sound far too grown up to actually apply to me. It’s the tone of voice that gets my attention. The tone of disappointment.
So maybe I should take the stupid exam. It’s English Lit revision in the afternoon… I could also bunk that. After all, everyone needs their Vitamin D.