He’s focused
his timetable pinned
on his wall – a planner
marked in colours
for the different subjects:
Maths, English, History, RE.
Revision days and each exam
circled in black. His stomach
squeezing tight as he walks
to school with Corinne
testing each other on the way.
At night he takes the valium
he got off Mac to relax him
help unwind and get to sleep.

Once he sits down in the hot school hall
Frankie knows it’s his one chance
to make up for all he’s missed
to prove what he can do.
Day after day he sits
and lays down pencil, rubber, pen
waits for the teacher’s signal:
You may begin,
then turns over his question sheet.
A bottle of water’s all he’s allowed;
he sweats it out – scribbling
words, ticking boxes
chewing the end of his thumb
frowning, then scribbling again.
Time’s Up!
The words drag him back to the real world.
He looks about in mild surprise
as another three hours
have disappeared in front
of his very eyes

Then suddenly they’re all over, and he can let go.


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