Gentling rubbing throbbing temples provided the illusion of relief without actually carrying through with the promise. Another futile second and the hands dropped, defeated, and eyes flared open again. Angry red lines coursed away from pools of deep blue that framed anguished black pupils. Creases above eyebrows and worry lines appeared in the recently vacated spaces.
Neighbors cast furtive glances, some of concern, some of blame, and some of boredom, and they were all ignored. There was no time or energy to deal with their intrigue, there was only pain. Constant. Intense. It burrowed further in, disrupting the normal flow of tissues and synapses. Eyes closed once more for balance but the bursts of light cascading in synchronized waves against eyelids required hands to go fumbling in search of something solid to cling to.
Balance restored, slowly. Achingly slowly. The throbbing headache remained.
Dark thoughts, twisted and writhing with mischief, found a way to surface when no others would or could: quick ways to end the suffering, names of those at fault for the current agony and how best to serve a fitting revenge, and the long road to recovery hidden in shadows and chains. The abused heart lurched haltingly as it became wrapped in despair. Knees grew weak. Eyes, still hidden protectively behind their lids, rolled upwards. Gravity did the rest and cooling air rushed passed falling limbs…
Some lurched forward others wrenched back from the falling girl. No matter anyone’s intent the result was the girl fell flat on her face. Finally having passed out. No one was surprised. They were dropping like flies. That’s what midterms often did to first year med students. She, like many in the study group, had been knocking back energy drinks for the last 90 hours. That mixed with roughly ten hours of sleep if you were lucky meant everyone was on edge. Now this? All the test scores were going to be forfeit if the parties responsible for cheating didn’t step forward.
Marcus had his doubts any cheating had taken place. The teachers were suspicious that their study group in particular had scored so highly. Hello? They were a study group and they had all been working their collective buts off to make sure they were ready for this first big hurdle. None of them had gotten where they were today by cheating. He would wager his right arm against any in his group being the culprit. However, it didn’t make sense for anyone else in the class to have cheated. Mack was looking rather shifty, but they all were twitching from sleep withdrawal and borderline caffeine overdoses. He and the rest of the study group surrounded Maria. While they tended to this incidental patient the rest of the class settled deeper into their seats. No one would be confessing any time soon.