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The little red alarm clock kept breaking the silence in the room. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Her hands nervously tapped the table, her mind letting her think of only one word. Deadline. She reluctantly gazed at the alarm clock, afraid to let any distraction get into her mind. Four hours till the deadline, she quickly calculated. Her tapping on the table increased to a crescendo as the lights went off in the rest of the house. Music from a wedding function near her house trespassed into her room through the heavily curtained windows. A golden opportunity lay in front of her, but only one word struck her mind. Deadline.

She stared into her blank notebook, all eager to get covered in writing. It looked as if the blank pages said Come on, Alyssa, you can do it. Just think. The eagerness in those blank pages stressed her. She tapped her legs under the table, thinking of everything except what she was supposed to do. She rubbed her eyes with her left hand and gulped. Such nervousness, only because of the word Deadline. She despised this word now.

Thoughts of her English class teacher crept into her mind, her furious eyes and the shabby looking bun. Alyssa, you have failed me again, she heard her teacher say in front of the entire class, followed by the giggling of the class, her friends tsch-tsch-ing and the teacher furiously staring, all these images distracted her. She held her head, shook it angrily and glanced back at the clock. Half an hour had gone by, but her mind had still made no progress. Cracked her knuckles, drank some water and took a deep breath. A creative thought appeared hazily but left without a satisfactory outcome. Her eyes were eager to break out into tears, but she gamely held on. Her head felt heavier, a few tears nonetheless escaping down her cheeks, which she quickly wiped off.

Then, it was as if a bright ray of sunshine hit her mind. She remembered what her History teacher had said once. Students, her teacher’s voice echoed, Lou Holtz once said that “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” I know high school can be tough for all of you. But remember what I just said and enjoy the ride as much as possible. Deadlines are a part of life. In fact, it is life. Work with it. Don’t stress about it. Show it that you are not afraid of them. And by the end of this month, I do need your assignments. Alyssa let a giggle out. All out of the blue, an idea struck. That was it!

She glanced at the clock, no longer afraid. Three hours till the deadline. A key to the golden opportunity. For the next 2 hours, Alyssa wrote and wrote. She drank three glasses of water and rubbed her hands together all the time, but she didn’t stop. A beautiful thought travelled from her mind till the tip of the pen, finally letting itself be heard. Now only typing it out was left. Within 20 minutes she had it on her laptop, proof reading and then re-proof reading. Email sent, the laptop screen said. She glanced at her clock again. Three minutes left, she observed with a satisfied grimace.


Written a long time ago, ironically for a competition that was due in 2 hours.

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