3
min

Cheat

Image of Mollie Rosie

Mollie Rosie

10 readings

8 votes

In competition

Kenny approached his midterm exam with all the confidence his older sister had whenever she paraded into a dressing room with size 4 jeans. It was the Monday after spring break, and Kenny's professor, who he felt must have taken some sick pleasure in sabotaging his classmates' plans for Miami and Vegas, placed a stapled test packet face-down on each desk. Today, the class would be tested on chapters one through five. Or was it one through six? Needless to say, he hadn't studied, and it made little difference what chapters would be covered.

It wasn't exactly Kenny's plan to sabotage himself during his spring break - it was just that a week had just passed with no reminders, and the date had simply snuck up on him without warning. Kenny strolled past the first few rows of seats, and by the time he had picked his spot in the classroom's epicenter, he had decidedly come to the conclusion that he would cheat.

But not the typical cheating that he had witnessed in high school, where his classmates would devise wild methods like concealing answers on the face of a watch. Or on the bottom brim of a baseball cap. Or rolled up inside the body of a ballpoint pen. No, these approaches were too risky and took almost as much effort as it took to study outright. He was a freshman in college now, and he had graduated from such remedial methods the moment he had graduated from high school. And besides, to achieve any of these feats, he would have needed to know about the midterm well before the minute he stepped into the classroom.

Kenny sat down and stealthily scanned the room. He figured that once the test started, he could better decide whose paper from which he could swipe answers. His classmates all had on stony poker faces, but he knew they would fall as soon as the clock started. And so, just like Big Sis in the department store dressing room stall, Kenny's confidence was strained and approaching complete delusion. But he had no choice but to trust his instincts or face forced withdrawal from the class.

The clock started, and just as Kenny had foreseen, the sale-faced masks melted off each of his classmates one by one. He looked to his left, and he could see small beads of sweat sprouting at the temple of Jennifer Parker to his left. This was not an automatic disqualifier, for she was a habitual over-sweater, and therefore today's perspiration could simply be a normal extension of her condition. He would come back to her later.

His eyes moved to Casey Brier, who was sitting right in front of Jennifer, and chuckled to himself when he saw Casey dramatically cough into his hand and pause, revealing smeared ink blotches in his left palm. What a simpleton, he thought.

Next, he observed Suzie Fisher who sat at the desk diagonally from him on the right. Suzie's foot tapped violently and incessantly, fueled with the caffeine pills of an apparent all-nighter. He wouldn't be copying her answers. He had tried the whole "no sleep" tactic before and had found that this strategy only placed distortion into his brain and weights onto his eyelids. Suzie's eyes crept to the paper of the student on her left. Exactly, Kenny remarked, rolling his eyes. Anyone who would try to cheat off of Marshall Wallace must have lost all lucidness.

For a moment, he felt sorry for Suzie, who had spent all night studying for a test that she would inevitably fail. But this wave of sympathy left as quickly as it had come. He was running out of time.

It was clear that due to some unfortunate mix of ill-preparedness or lack of preparedness at all, no one in the desks adjacent to his would be passing this midterm. He had to expand his horizons and venture out to the desks of his more distant neighbors. His eyes narrowed as he tested the vigor of his prescription glasses. But no precision of even the best ophthalmologist could create lenses that would decipher the answer bubbles of papers this far.

He moved back to Jennifer, whose perspiration had become so voluminous that through her sweatshirt, he could see dark rings of sweats around her armpits. This was more dampness than usual - not a good sign. He couldn't tell if the extra perspiration was due to pressure brought on by ill-preparedness or just general test anxiety, but Kenny figured that Jennifer was his best bet to a passing grade considering the circumstances. He promptly filled in the bubbles according to those on Jennifer's answer sheet.

He waited a few minutes after Jennifer turned in her test to walk to the front of the room where his professor was sitting idly behind the classroom computer. "Here's my test."

His professor peered over at the stack of answer sheets and test packets. "Kenny?" she called as he turned to exit.

"Yes?"

"you forgot to write your name, dear."

"Oops." Kenny pulled a pencil out of his back pocket. At the top of the test, right below the bold letters printed "Logic 101: Midterm Examination," he wrote his name in sloppy, defeated script.

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Image of Katla Ignis
Katla Ignis · ago
I love how relatable this is! Kenny’s predicament and cool-headedness made the story very compelling.
I think you’ll like my story, “Do You See Me?”. The link to it is here: https://short-edition.com/en/story/3-min/do-you-see-me

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