Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Exam (09/12/13)
TITLE: THE EXAMINATION
By Bruce Phenix
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The examination drew closer. I began to reason with myself: others had passed, and they didn’t seem any brighter than I was, so it couldn’t be that hard – could it? But as the days went by, I felt less and less confident in my own ability, and I knew deep down that only a miracle could save me.
Thursday 16th. The day had arrived, and I presented myself at the test centre. As I looked around, the sinking feeling in my stomach was mingled with a sense of bewilderment: where were all the other candidates? Surely I wasn’t taking the examination alone? The receptionist looked surprised to see me. “Can I help you” she enquired. “I’m here for the examination,” I said uncertainly. “I’m sorry, there must be some mistake,” she replied; “the examination was on Tuesday 14th, the day before yesterday.”
I turned and walked out slowly, in a daze. My legs felt as if they didn’t belong to me. It couldn’t be! Why hadn’t I checked the date? I’d got Tuesdays and Thursdays mixed up before, but never with such devastating consequences. What could I do now? There were no re-sits. What a total mess! What a disaster! What a humiliation! My whole life seemed ruined, wasted.
The following week a letter came for me. It looked like the sort of envelope that contained examination results, but as I opened it I reflected that in this case it must just contain confirmation of my failure. But no… I must be dreaming… examination results in my name… 100%, a perfect score… it wasn’t possible. I sat down slowly. It was too good to be true; in fact it couldn’t be true, it must be an error, a human error… I’d have to ring them and tell them there’d been a terrible mistake. I couldn’t accept these results, which I’d done nothing to earn, nothing to deserve.
I rang the test centre with a heavy heart and was put through to the administration office. I explained what had happened and then listened, open-mouthed, to the clerk’s reply. I couldn’t believe my ears. He said there was no doubt that someone giving my name and candidate number had taken the examination on Tuesday 14th. “You’re telling me,” I said incredulously, “that someone took it for me, in my place?” I hesitated, my mind racing. How was it possible?
It was a perfect mystery, but it was also a perfect miracle. Somehow, through this person’s actions, all my failures, all the time and opportunities I’d wasted, had been wiped out; I was saved. The clerk spoke again: “Is everything all right, Mr Abrahams?” “Y-yes,” I stammered, “everything is quite all right now.”
“I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten… You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.” 1
“For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” 2
1 Joel 2:25 (RSV)
2 Hebrews 2:16-18 (NRSV)
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