Brain Wipeout

I’m dead. I’m so so dead. Why me???

I stared at the thin stack of papers before me, scrunching my face as I furiously attempted to recall the answers while battling the ticking clock, parched pens and extreme sleep deprivation that seemed to have burned away the vestiges of my struggling brain cells. 

“The reason for the Wall Street Crash…” I mumbled softly. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my classmate crane slightly closer to me, trying to get a hint from my ramblings. Don’t look at me, laughter rings hysterically in my head, the fact that my mouth is moving more than my pen shows that I have no idea what I’m doing

Frantically flipping through my mental textbook, I try to dig out the answer to no avail. The exact page, images, even the colour of the highlighter I used comes to mind, but not the text. Gah! 

Staring so hard at the printed questions before me, my brain wandered. Funny, isn’t it, just a few pieces of processed wood can determine your future, and how years are spent preparing to fill up these sheets, only for it to desert you the moment you flip it open? 

Just kidding, it’s not funny at all. 

My breathing became shallow, the room appeared oppressive. The terror that I couldn’t answer a single question clouded my vision. 

In the tiny exam hall with the 7 other people taking History – the underwhelming number of exam candidates speaks volumes – I was seated right in front of the examiner. As the panic consumed me and I looked up in despair with my mouth open to silently cry and scream, I locked eyes with the examiner. Her expression was neutral, but with our eyes we held a conversation. 

“Tough, huh?” she said, with a crinkle of amusement at the corner of her eyes.

“That’s an understatement, my brain has rebooted and I forgot to save my progress before it shut down.” I hugged the table miserably. 

“That sucks, but you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not the first person this happened to, nor will you be the last,” her eyes filled with pity.

“That’s not comforting at all,” my mouth dropped as I shook my head vehemently. “Every single memory file in my brain has decided to go on vacation and I’m left with… I don’t even know if there’s anything left!”

The neutral expression evaporates from her face as a smile cracks out on her face. A soft laugh breaks the silence and the other candidates look up, their focus disturbed. 

Pretending to be doing more than just chatting with the examiner in the midst of ‘exam conditions,’ I returned to face the paper and made a last ditch attempt to trace my footsteps to what happened in class when this topic was discussed…


“Class, this is your new teacher, Mr Quiverly, please make him feel welcome. He’s a very good teacher with plenty of experience teaching students.”

After a string of underqualified teachers who had no idea what they were doing and less than a year left until our finals, those words were music to our ears. Finally! We didn’t have to struggle trying to piece our syllabus together by self-studying. We treated him with our utmost love and care, looking to him as our saviour who would help guide us through the darkest trenches of our educational battle. 

It seemed, however, that the fate of the class of 2022 was simply destined otherwise. Mr Quiverly’s main method of imparting knowledge was getting us to practise past year papers that he never marked, all while sharing to us the countries he’d travelled to, his rich connections and how intelligent his son was. While that would’ve made for an interesting way to market his son out during matchmaking, it was disastrous in the classroom. In between struggling to cram not only the terms of the Versailles Settlement and all the names of the key figures with un-Asian spelling into my brain, knowing that Michelle Yeoh apparently learned Taekwondo with Mr Quiverly was one extra fact that took up space in my already overloaded brain. 

Asking Mr Quiverly specific questions wasn’t much better. When asking him questions that he didn’t have an answer to – and he didn’t have an answer to many questions – his de facto response was, “You don’t have to know this, it won’t come out on the exam.” 

This went on for the rest of the year, which led to a very disgruntled moi. I admit, I could’ve just gone home and googled all the answers to my questions instead of asking him directly, but the petty voice in me loved to press his buttons. Whenever he said anything, I went home, fact checked what he said, and called him out on his bluffs in the next class. 

Was it satisfying whenever it happened? Yes. 

Do I regret it? Absolutely, 100%. It wasn’t that I spent all my time proving Mr Quiverly wrong instead of studying… but let’s just say that it was… a significant amount of time. 

Now, staring at the exam paper, the memory of me asking this exact question to Mr Quiverly a few days ago surfaced. Of course, he gave his standard answer. WeLl Mr QuIvErLy, It’S oUt In ThIs ExAm. But that’s besides the point. My nails dug into my head as I thunked it against the table. Geez, you couldn’t have spent more time studying? Why, oh why, did you have to antagonise Mr Quiverly instead of minding your own business? 

Well, you get what you give, the voice in my head grumbles. Now look at what happened. If you ignored him and focused on the task at hand, your pen wouldn’t have stopped moving. 

Stop speculating about what’s done, I sigh. It’s too l-



My distressed neurons finally put two and two together, and all the information flooded in. Grabbing my pen, I raced to pen down my answers. Paper after paper was filled, but just before I started the last question, a voice split the silence once again. 

“Candidates, you have ten more minutes. You are not allowed to leave the exam room.”

Stiff hands trembling from the cold and so much writing, I forced letter after letter onto the paper, my determination to snatch all the marks I can rock solid. Finally, the last sentence was eked out, right in time for the final announcement.

“Please put down your pens. The exam is over.”

Throwing down my pen, I collapsed to the back of my chair and waited for the papers to be collected. 

I did it. It’s over. It is finished.

Written By: Marinella Lotte

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