It’s the night before the big day. I put my pencil in the sharpener and give it a good twist. Two freshly sharpened pencils for the test. I toss them in my backpack, as I prepare for the following day. I set my alarm for 7 a.m. I turn on my Fire Stick and watch a couple of TASC practice-for-math videos, until I doze off.
Just a couple hours after falling into a coma, I am awakened with the annoying, vibrating sound of my alarm going off. It’s like a light bulb clicks into my mind, and I jump out of bed. My mind is ready, and my body follows the ambition I feel inside.
I brush my teeth, shower, and get dressed mindfully and cautiously, yet conscious of the time. I stop for a second, look in the mirror and take a good look at myself. I tell myself, I can’t believe after all these years, here I am. Finally, all my hard work and effort is being put to the test. There’s no more room for failure.
Before I part ways with the mirror, I look at myself and say, “Break a leg, Mary.” I get a little emotional and shed a tear. I tell myself, I want to pass this test so bad. It’s not a big deal . . . I got this. Then I say, This IS a big deal! I didn’t get this far to stop now.
I grab my backpack and head out the door. I call a taxi, so I won’t be late. The test is taking place in a public library in Brooklyn. The taxi drops me off there, and I get out of the car. “Thank you,” I say, and I run off.
The test begins at 9:30. I look at the library door, and there is a schedule posted that says the library opens at 10. I begin freaking out. I see a woman with two bags sitting on the main entrance steps of the library. She looks at me in my distress and says with an attitude, as she pulls out a glass pipe and a lighter, “Excuse me, miss, but I don’t need a babysitter.” I look at her again, then look away.
I still have time until the test begins. I walk to the store. I call my teacher for some advice before the test. He promises me that I am going to do great and not to worry. I stop freaking out and grab a cup of coffee. I walk back over to the front of the library. The woman is still sitting there, but I also see two classmates from my program.
As I anxiously stand there, waiting for the library door to open, I feel a splatter of what seems like a small drop of paint land on my forehead. Some of it lands on my hand, too. I look down and see orange and white mud on my hand. I look up at the cable wires being held up by poles over my head, and I hear a coo coming from a pigeon.
“Just great,” I run off, squealing, with a feeling of disgust. As I walk away from the front of the library, a bird poops on my forehead! I can feel the wet mud as well.
I stop and throw my bag on the ground. I start rummaging inside it, trying to find a napkin or anything of that kind to wipe my skin clean from pigeon poop. I rip off pages from a notebook and use a sheet of paper as a napkin. I look behind me and just imagine what my classmates are probably thinking.
I rush to the store, and I purchase a pack of wet wipes. I make sure I thoroughly clean my skin. I return to the library right on time, as they begin letting in the examinees.
Now it occurs to me that the pigeon has actually helped rid me of my anxiety. I keep thinking, What are the odds that the bird would choose me? Kind of like one of the probability math problems I’ve been studying in class with my teacher and my classmates.
One thing I realize is that if you believe the world is yours, then everything in it reminds you, every day, that you can achieve anything you want.
Marianna Vargas, who lives in Brooklyn with her four-year-old son, studied at Project Reach Youth in the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone. Her instructor was John Kefalas, and Rebecca Gallager is the site supervisor. Recently, Marianna Vargas earned her High School Equivalency degree, joking that the pigeon in her LR story brought her luck. She enjoys writing poetry and short anecdotes she calls “coincidental stories.”