The Young Writers Project: Danielle Reigle

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(Host) What is it like to take the S.A.T.’s? Today, as part of a collaboration between VPR and the Young Writer’s Project, 15-year-old Danielle Reigle takes us into the future with her poem, The Room .

(REIGLE) Two years away I can see it now…..
Saturday morning. Nine fifty.
My mind is clouded over. The man with the gray
mustache says upstairs, third door on the right,
number 117.

Half way up the stairs panic grips me in a vice.
My mind starts to go blank,
all those months spent learning and reviewing
all for nothing.

I push through it sprinting past fear and doubt
slipping through the door as the Watcher
closes the gate to Hell behind me.
I take my designated seat, third row back
second from the left.

As the test booklets are being passed out,
I glance around the snow-white room
with the blue and black speckled tile floors
and a "Math Is POWER!" poster on the wall.
In the front row is Anne, sitting straight up
perky in her pink American Eagle t-shirt
and her beach-blond hair,
straight from a bottle.
I’ve got her pegged as the P.S. Perfect Scorer.

Just one row behind sits Derek.
Not as confident as Anne
all he needs is an 1100 for his football scholarship
but unlike blitzes and touchdowns,
an 1100 won’t come easily to Derek.
Out of the corner of my eye
I spy Joel spying me.
Probably analyzing me
like I did Anne and Derek.
What does he think of me?

Just the plain one, average in every way, shape,
and form. From my straight, shoulder length brown hair
to my solid, but not extraordinary, 3.5 GPA.

Open your test booklets to page one.
The monotone voice sends my train of thought
careening off the tracks.

I look down and three letters stare back
glaring and gloating at the same time.
S. A. T. Three letters and three hours
to decide our futures.
To separate the Harvards
from the community colleges.
And to find out where the rest of us fall.

I look around once more and
there are looks of panic on every face in the room.

I can almost read their thoughts.
All I need is an 1100…
Maybe Yale won’t look at these scores
if I boost up my extracurriculars…
Why did I promise my parents I’d go to college…?
In three hours the nightmare will be over.
The Watchmen will open the gates of Hell
and everyone will leave.
Mingling with the others
but only thinking about ourselves.

Tomorrow nobody will remember
what color shirt Anne had on
nor what score Derek needed
for his scholarship.
No, heads will be filled with second guesses,
and hurried applications because suddenly
safety colleges will
sound like a good idea.

Whatever the result it’s just a number on a piece of paper.
We went to Hell and back and survived.
That which does not kill you
only makes you stronger.

The monotone voice breaks through once again.
Take a deep breath, open to page one, pick up
your number two pencil,
and begin.

Danielle Reigle is a sophomore at Middlebury Union High School. She lives in Weybridge.

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