For Children

Rose Yardeni

The Test

7th & 8th Grade Prose Winner

The loud speakers blare with the morning wake-up siren. I sit still for a moment in my
bed. Then I remember what day it is - today is the test. As I get up, I look around my small,
white room, in my small, white house. There is really nothing special about my room, or house, it
is the same as every other house in my section. I walk to the bathroom and brush my hair.
Today is Wednesday, shower day, but I don’t really feel like a shower. We can only shower
once a week because there is not enough water, or food, or anything for that matter. That is why
we have the test. Once a year for every 13 year old. I don’t particularly know why they chose
age 13 to give the test. If I had to guess, I would say it’s because you aren’t fully an adult at 13,
but you also aren’t fully a child. The test was established in the year 3010. The government
needed to decrease the world's population somehow, and the test seemed like the only logical
way.

I walk into the family room and there is an uneasy feeling in the air. I see my mom, sitting
in her usual spot at the counter, but today is different. She looks at me as a tear rolls down her
cheek. As I walk over to her I look down at my wrist and I see the frail thread of a bracelet that I
have had for years. I can’t think about Aurora right now. I look up at my mom and she offers me
food, but I don’t want my morning meal today. I just sit next to my mom and think about my life,
my childhood... all a waste unless I can somehow pull through today. I look at my mother, my
sweet, caring mother, and I remember all the cold winter nights she and I made soup for dinner,
and all the times we stayed up late talking. My thoughts stop when my dad walks into the room.
He doesn’t bother to look at me, after all, all I am to him is a disappointment. He works for the
government and he knows everything about the test, he also knows everything about me. He
knows that I am not a huge fan of the test. He has always wanted me to follow in his footsteps
and work for the government, but I don’t want to.

I decide to go back to my room and change into my daily uniform. A white t-shirt and
white pants. There isn’t enough room for big clothing factories, so we can only wear the white
uniform the government gives us. I look up at the clock on the wall, 8:55 am, the test starts at
10:00 am sharp and if you aren’t there on time... well, I’m not going to say what happens if you
aren’t there on time. The test usually finishes at about 5:00 pm, at least in my section. I
remember when I was younger, the day after the test was always a weird day. I hated seeing so
many sad parents, but I also liked seeing the smiles of relief on parents' faces when their kids
arrived home for dinner. It was days like that when I was grateful I was an only child, and didn’t
have any older siblings.

Honestly, I hadn’t really started thinking about the test until a few months ago, when they
mentioned it at school to tell us we weren’t allowed to study, so we would all have a “fair shot.”
At school they barely told us any details about the content of the test, but I know it will be
stressful, and I do not do well under pressure. So, in other words, this test is not designed in my
favor. I look up at the clock again, 9:10 am, I have twenty minutes until the bus will arrive.
I leave my room and go back into the family room, where my mom is still sitting at the
counter. I go over and hug her. It is the least I can do to ease her stress. I decide to look around
the house one last time. I look at our plain couch, and our clear glass coffee table in the family
room. I look at our plain kitchen with our white counter and white cabinets. I look at the row of
identical white houses outside my window, and I see parents hugging their kids and wishing
them luck. The bus is about to arrive. I say a final goodbye to my mom, and I hug her for as long
as I can. I don’t bother to say bye to my dad. I look out the window and there is the dull bus with
square windows, I say one last “I love you” to my mom, and I am off to the bus ride that will
decide my destiny.

I walk onto the bus and finally find Aurora among the ocean of white. We barely talk, we
are too nervous. We just hug each other and promise that even if one of us doesn’t make it we
will see each other again on the other side. We pass through the whole section until we finally
arrive at the tall, glass, government building. There are multiple men in white hazmat suits
standing by the doors. After we get off the bus, they bring us into a big auditorium, and at the
front there is a stage where the government head, Hadriana Marcellus, stands with a
microphone. “Todays test will decide your fate” she says “You must get a 90% or above in order
to pass. We will test your reasoning, your problem solving, and your natural ability to perform
specific tasks and react to a range of different situations.” Her voice echoes off the walls and I
get chills. I look at Aurora. Terrified is an understatement for the look on her face. “You will all
be given the test 50 at a time in rooms of ten, and the first group will leave when I am done
speaking.” She smiles. “Good luck!”

They call our names ten at a time in alphabetical order. Aurora gets up, I wish her good
luck and tell her I love her. I wait for about an hour, and then I hear screams and shouting, then
slowly silence. Yup. The first group is done. I hope Aurora made it, but the chances of me
finding out are slim. They start calling the next group, I hear my name, “Pandora Domitia” I get
up. I walk towards an opening to a hallway. A man with a hazmat suit grabs me and ten other
kids and brings us into a white room with ten chairs. We each take a seat. He gives us each a
wristband to put on and when we tap it a hologram test will appear in the air in front of each of
us. “You may begin,” he says. I tap my wrist, and here is my test. My nerves get the best of me.
I start hyperventilating-- where am I? What am I doing? I can’t think. I finally calm down. “At a
toy factory it takes two machines 50 minutes to create 10 teddy bears. How many teddy bears
can one machine create in 30 minutes?” The first question, ok, not too bad. The questions get
progressively harder but I keep my calm, which I didn’t think I could do. The questions start to
be about solving daily problems, and they get increasingly more confusing. Then it is giving me
reasoning problems with patterns of shapes where I have to pick the next one. I finally finish. I
hadn’t bothered to look around during the test but now that I am done and my score is loading, I
look up and see that most of the kids in the room are looking at their scores, some crying, some
laughing. I look back at my test, my heart drops. I can’t breathe. 89%. I did better than I could
have ever imagined but it is still too low. I am 1% away from having a life, and being an adult.

I hear the door open behind me and I suddenly am grabbed and dragged into another
room. I am strapped into a cold metal chair, I look to the right and I am not alone. I fight
desperately to escape the chair, as do the many other kids in the room. They start about ten
kids down from me. I hear screams. They are moving closer to me. Slowly the screams get
quieter and quieter until it is my turn. I feel the cool serum from the syringe sink into my skin.
“No!” I scream “It’s not fair!” and then everything disappears.