A range is a limit. 

The number that the faceless faces outside the classroom window use to see if you’re worth anything. A range is a number that they rank you with. The letters F –  D.  Achieved and Not Achieved. A range is what they call you. Pathetic. Brainless. Idiot. 


It’s easy to get over the first time. Easy to just smile along and laugh. Easy to encage a desolate heart. Easy to burn whatever part of you they deem unfit. 


A range is the limit that they set for you. 


Exams. I can’t help but cross my heart. Hope to die. Stop breathing for a second because I fear the ticking. Feel the ripple across my arms as the calendar flips over. Wondering just how bad I’ll fail, how bad the teacher will grimace, how cold the ruler will be on my hand. Feel it warmer with every slash. Fade into an autumn red. 


Even now I flinch. Even here. Safe under the bed sheets.The moon shining outside. Warm everywhere but inside. Cold with every touch. Reading a book I’m probably not paying attention to. Not watching the time that somehow scrolls faster than my fingers. 


Where did the time go? I know I shouldn’t ask. The blank between remembering is unquestionable. Everytime you blink, you forget the second you lost. No one knows exactly what happens in that second. No one can find out. Hours, minutes, seconds it’s all the same. 


Like sleep. Tired bones and muscles in a blanket in the darkness. Aching at every joint. Laid like bricks in a weak construction. Only to wake refreshed. Forgetting every dream you had the other night. Every promise you made to change yourself. Every nightmare that haunts you, eventually comes to an end. Every monster slain. Every fall, broken. Every darkness is lightened by light. 


They tried calling my parents, the first time. I could have laughed. The school thinks I’m a spelling mistake that they can fix with a red line and click. A misdrawn line to redraw with a straight ruler and a steady hand. I wish I was. I wish I could be reprogrammed to think like they want me to. 


Especially now that it is 2 hours till my alarm clock rudely wakes me up again. I wish I could just hit power off, wake up fully rested and charged like the phone I spent the night staring at. Not with eye bags that hang close to my chest. A morning in which I wasn’t dizzy, unprepared and banging my head every five minutes because I fell asleep.


So let me – before the black takes me again and I have to hit snooze five times before I wake up; tell you just how much I hurt, how much I regret. I’m the lowest value. Rock bottom of the unending hill. I’m at the other end of the range. Step over me and gain everything. Step over me and take every breath. Push me down. Even further.


Written by Haran Thirumeni and edited by Maisarah Madawi. Published on 27/8/23. Header image by Marianna Wang.

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