Part 2 of my story on the last days of my student life…please note….this is all real…*I think*
The 26th dawns bright and beautiful, I am fully awake and ready. I take a quick break and watch an episode of Cougar Town. I slog on, but feel as if my essay is starting to take real shape. It may sound odd, but I’ve never been one to see an essay take form until the 23rd hour. I feel like I’m making some good points and using references well…so far so good. I’ve gone past tired now and I’m on my second (or is that third?) wind.
As the evening settles over London, I’m in the same place as I was the night before. The other rooms in my house are starting to look unfamiliar. I’ve come to love my prison-come-office, with its piles of books, papers, plates and the coffee stains on the desk. It starts to get chilly, so I turn on the portable heater. Again, it will be another all-nighter.
At around 4 am I notice that the light is flickering. The shadows in the room are actually moving! I knew I wasn’t imagining things yesterday!
I feel the adrenaline grip me, as I prepare to face whatever nightmare I battle in my office. I hit Ctrl+S just in case.
I’m looking around frantically, trying to figure out what’s making the lampshade swing of its own accord. My heart is thumping in my chest and I’m shaking slightly.
I cannot see anything. There’s no shadow lurking on the ceiling, no spider army come to exact revenge for their fallen comrades…there’s nothing there! Yet, the damn light is still swaying back and forth. Then it hits me; I have an epiphany moment, like I’m Professor Robert Langdon in my own version of the Da Vinci Code! It’s the portable heater! The light is swinging in the convection currents created by the heat! My heart actually begins to slow down, now that I can attribute science to my witching hour phenomenon. I check under the desk a few more times just to be sure.
At the 48 hour mark with no sleep, I’m due for another coffee break. My whole body is tingling with caffeine and I need a bigger fix. I decided to make the wunderkind of coffees – guarana with coffee for the last boost towards liberty. I hear myself quoting Henry V’s speech ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,’ while I stare out of the window at the green, tidy lawn of the garden. I shake myself out of it! ‘That was A210 woman! Get a grip; you’ve done that essay already!’
Mighty O is up and gives me a mango for breakfast. I pick it up and start enthusing and gesticulating with it, while I rattle on about my essay, talking him through the arguments and counter arguments. He’s very supportive, even at 7.30 am and my boy is not a morning person.
Once he leaves for work, I’m back at the desk writing frantically.
As I talk myself though the essay, I find myself staring at the mango. I’m not talking to the mango per se; more it has become my sounding board. In a bizarre turn of circumstances, the mango, with its bright, tropical colours, allows to me focus through the fuzz of exhaustion and caffeine overload.
After a few hours, I realise I am actually talking to the mango. *screw it I’ve gone loco*
It’s in my hand again and I’m looking at it as I speak. It’s solid when I feel distinctly incorporeal. I’ve not really spoken to anyone for a week now not even Mighty O. My breakfast mango provides the grounding I need to get through the last hours. Attacking my essay with renewed vigour, I tie up loose ends and add details to conclusions.
It is now 11.30 am and I start my final read through and edit. I need to reduce my essay by 300 words. At 11:44:36 am (UK), I click the send button for EA300 ECA.
After 72 hours and 4,031 words I am finally free. Three years of solid dedication; hard work; sleepless nights and a diminished social life. I’ve now finished my degree. Three years from start to finish, when others were given six. Three years as a full-time student, employee, daughter, sister and girlfriend. I finally did it. I’m finally going to graduate.
The realisation hits me like the Gatwick Express and I break down in tears, still holding the mango in my left hand.