Ten Seconds To Pray (A Short Story)

I was sure I had failed this one.

My professor walked about the class room with a pile of essays in one hand, calling out names. I could see the flashes of red pen as the papers were handed to their owners. My paper would be around the middle of the alphabetically sorted pile, neither at the beginning or the end, giving me thirty seconds to wish I hadn’t wrote the majority of the essay the night before it was due.

The ever familiar, always monotonous off-white walls stood tall, hemming me in on all sides, a brown door at the front of the room affording the only escape, which could hardly be made without drawing attention. My palms started to sweat and I rubbed them on my jeans. No, I had to stay and see my grade.

Professor was at the Gs now. Twenty seconds to hope against reality that my essay was actually half decent. I glanced around, as if searching for some salvation. My gaze was met once again, by those whitish walls. Surely these walls had witnessed many  a student as I, messy haired and bleary eyed, hand in their overnight paper. Surely they had seen the faces of the failed, the students a few points under an E. The walls must be mocking me as they conversed with the bookshelves that lined their surfaces. The whiteboard too, had to be joining in their criticism. Will the young ever learn? They must say, one to another.  Are all generations the same? They must scoff. Surely the clock hung among them as the only passive bystander, ticking off seconds that brought me closer to my undoing.

My Professor was at the Os. Ten seconds to pray for mercy. Perhaps a miracle would happen, and my grade would change in the few moments left of my life in composition class. Perhaps a random kid would pull the fire alarm, or the power would fail. Perhaps a massive earthquake would rock the U.S., causing the worlds volcanoes to erupt, sending America into a state of emergency. Perhaps the apocalypse would begin.

He was at the Rs. Dear Lord, please come now.

“SAMANTHA JONES.” The name finally sounded from my professors lips like words of doom from the mouth of prophet. The floor beneath my professor’s feet creaked, no doubt joining the walls in their mockery. The ticking of the clock slowed. This is it. I thought. This paper would be my last. I would fail my first comp class, my low grade being such an embarrassment that it would get me kicked off campus. Then I would end up living in my parents basement until I was forty, even though my parents didn’t have a basement.

I suppose I’ll have to live on the roof then.

My professor slid the offending paper into my outstretched hand.  I gulped and flipped to the essay’s last page, my hands shaking as I looking for the single digit percentage that would seal my fate.


I slumped back in my chair with relief. It wasn’t a pretty grade, but it would pass.

Hey God, you know what I said about the volcanoes? Can you hold that off till, you know, my next paper’s due?



Thanks for reading! If you liked my story, feel free to comment.

*Note: This story is something I was inspired to write by an ordinary circumstance and isn’t necessarily representative of my experience or reality.

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7 thoughts on “Ten Seconds To Pray (A Short Story)

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