Recent reports from room 320 in the exam centre confirm that local student Brenda Moreno has just broken her 27th and final pencil during a midterm. She is now reported to be sitting in shock and terror, unable to finish the exam paper.
Nearby, some other students have begun to notice Brenda’s predicament, and are frowning with pity as they clutch their remaining writing implements, hoping that no similar tragedy will befall them. “It all happened so fast,” says Brenda. “One minute I was sitting here organizing my stationary and feeling prepared, and then before I knew it, I ran out of unbroken pencils!” Utensil malfunction is more common than most people think, and the really prepared students always carry extras.
Brenda comments that she had considered rounding out her number at 30 pencils, and is now regretting cutting it short. “Even if I had just one more, I could probably do fine on this test, but my own confidence got the better of me,” she says, clearly feeling stupid.
What remains to be seen is whether Miles Leung, sitting across the row from Brenda, will take a risk to help a friend, and lend over one of his remaining 20. The events of the last few minutes have put all surrounding students on their guard, and Miles certainly would not wish to end up in a similar fix.
“Brenda’s usually really well prepared for writing tests,” Miles notes, glancing sideways as Brenda makes a poorly executed attempt to fill in the blanks with a chipped fragment of graphite. “And then look, the one time she brings fewer than 28 pencils, this happens. It could have been anyone.”
As she desperately pricks herself with a sharpener blade, and sobs quietly while completing the exam with her own blood, it seems that a lesson has been learned by Brenda and all those around her.