Note: The students in this story are at the end of their senior year of high school. They have all turned 18.
All libraries are quiet. But today the library at Darlingdale Senior High School is especially quiet as the calculus students sit their university entrance exam. The long desks in front of the reception at which students normally sit to study have been cleared away and replaced with classroom desks spaced evenly apart. In the front row a young woman wearing the uniform plaid skirt and blue blazer is squirming in her chair. She raises her hand.
Mrs Hope, the calculus teacher, rises from her seat behind the reception desk and approaches the girl. "What's wrong?" she whispers.
"Can I please go to the toilet?"
She crouches so that her head is level with the young woman's. "No. You were told before the exam that bathroom breaks wouldn't be allowed. You'll have to hold it."
"Okay. I'm sorry."
Mrs Hope returns to her seat.
The young woman turns her attention back to the exam, but it soon wanders back to her full bladder. She looks up at the wall clock. Only twenty minutes into the exam. Two hours and forty minutes to go.
She silently curses herself for drinking so much coffee this morning. But she needed the coffee to wake herself up. She didn't sleep at all last night, because she was so nervous about today's exam. Her entire future is riding on it.
She silently chides herself for letting her thoughts wander. She resolves to get a good score on this test ― good enough to get her into the university of her choice, into the courses of her choice. Into the career of her choice. She refocuses on the exam, writing faster to make up for the lost time.
She doesn't realise it, but she oozes desperation. She is sitting with her legs tightly crossed, biting her lower lip. Her foot is tapping on the carpeted floor. Her plastic chair creaks as she rocks back and forth. It's not long before she loses concentration again.
Over the next few minutes she comes to realise that she's not going to get a good score on this test if she doesn't empty her bladder soon. It's too much of a distraction. She plucks up the courage to raise her hand again.
Mrs Hope comes over. "What is it this time?"
"I know you said no before, and please don't be angry with me, but I need to go to the loo. Can you please make an exception in my case? Please?"
"No, I can't, I'm sorry. I'm bound by school policy. There's nothing I can do, I'm afraid. You should've gone before the exam." She shrugs her shoulders and returns to her desk.
Bitch! the young woman thinks but doesn't say. She didn't go before the exam, because her car had trouble starting this morning and she only pulled into the school parking lot two minutes before commencement.
She sighs. She now knows she's not going to get the score she was hoping for. She will have to be content with a pass. That is her new goal. And she sets about achieving it. Her brows furrow in concentration as she reads the questions and writes down the answers.
Yet not twenty minutes later ― twenty minutes of crossing and uncrossing her legs, of blowing through puckered lips, of pressing her hand to her crotch, of shifting her position on her chair ― she raises her hand again.
Mrs Hope comes over again, visibly annoyed. "Yes?"
"Look, I have to go to the toilet. What happens if I just walk out and go?"
"Then you will automatically fail."
"Fail? Can't I arrange to take the test at some other time or something?"
"No, you can't. I suggest you get back to work and stop distracting those around you with these interruptions. Uh! I don't want to hear any more from you!"
"But Mrs Hope, I will fail the test anyway if I can't go."
She is already walking away and doesn't respond.
The young woman doesn't know what to do. She doesn't think she can hang on till the end of the exam, but even if she can, she doesn't think she'll pass, not with her bladder distracting her like this. One thing she does know is that she cannot fail this exam. She may or may not be able to hang on till the end, but if she walks out on this exam, she will definitely fail. And so she stays.
She continues with her exam as best she can, though she frequently has to stop writing to concentrate on holding her bladder; continues for forty minutes.
Then a tear runs down the young woman's cheek. A stream of pee hits her chair with a sound reminiscent of tap water running into a bucket. Owing to the quiet environment, everyone in the library can hear it. The stream continues for over a minute. During this time the young woman, in denial, keeps writing.
But when the snickers start among those sitting near her, the reality of what she's done hits her. She runs out of the library, ignoring the increasing laughter, runs to her car, and drives home, not caring that she will fail her exam and not be able to go to university.
When she arrives home, her mother, having heard the car pull up, stops her housecleaning and runs to meet her at the front door. "You're back early. How did it go?" She sees she is crying. "Are you all right, darling? What happened?"
"Mum, I wet my pants! In class. I didn't finish my exam; I'm sorry!"
"What? So what happens now? Do you take it another time?"
"No, Mum. I automatically fail. I won't be able to get into uni." She cries harder.
"Oh. And I suppose you now expect us to pay for you to repeat your senior year. Well, I can assure you that won't be happening. We gave you your chance, you blew it. Live with the consequences!"
The young woman has stopped crying. She looks at her mother with an expression of growing bewilderment.
"And another thing: if you want me to let you into this house, you're going to have to march straight to the place that used to be your naughty corner when you were little and sit there with your panties over your head until they dry out. If you're going to behave like a child, I'll treat you like one!"
Speechless, the young woman hesitates only a moment before taking off her panties and pulling them over head. They are white and the material is see-through where it is wet. She positions them so that she can see through the leg openings. The centre of the wet patch is right under her nostrils.
Her mother stands aside, and she makes her way to the naughty corner, thinking, One day, Mrs Hope, this'll be you! I swear it!