The Final Level pt. 4

It was all drawing to a close, still some last minute business but done with assessments and taking notes,

Bade farewell to peers and teachers alike, a fun day at the junior campus the prize,

A makeshift carnival the order of the day, inner children coming out to play,

Wasn’t feeling it at all, sadly, the previous weeks and months had taken their toll,

Treated like an outsider by the population so two middle fingers towards the fuckers,

The formal was up next, wore a white suit just like I did in year ten,

Sat on the sidelines watching the others, couples dancing, friends reminiscing, got me wondering if in ten years they’ll still be together?

Then came graduation, finally got my flowers for my efforts,

Couldn’t give two shits about it, just wanted to go home and be done with it,

Slim and pale in that photo, school blazer, tie and trousers fitting loosely,

Could’ve doubled as an alternative rocker and just as cynical and angsty,

The showdown is on, the final boss out there still smouldering,

Fourth term the battleground, time to put to test thirteen years of grinding.

Term three break no picnic, it was heads down and studying,

Eat, sleep and revise twenty-four-seven, weekends temporarily non-existent,

Expecting torture but truthfully found it strangely enjoyable,

Reading notes on my lonesome while the radio’s playing, quite the soothing experience,

Day one of testing finally arrived, initial confrontation with that final boss,

My specialty up first, feeling confident compared to most,

Still in the days of handwriting, putting pen to paper, of battling dominant hand cramping,

Regurgitating notes memorized onto paper, trying to sound coherent while the mind and heart are racing,

Day after day knocking ‘em over like bowling pins, strangely felt on top of things,

That strict routine paying dividends, felt that hitting the nineties was possible,

First week done and dusted, confidence rather high,

But the beast still lives, might have in store for me a big surprise,

Second and third weeks came and went, time away from the arena spent in my little room,

Took breaks when I could, not for long, Rocky soundtrack helping to set the mood,

That bus pass been gathering dust fast, P-plates ensure I can commute on my lonesome,

Still feeling strangely relaxed, pre-examination jitters had long passed,

The final week arrived, at last, two more hurdles before freedom,

‘Not long to go, Kiddo, go out guns blazing.’

Took care of the first before the second and last,

The final school exam ever, 13 years went by so fast,

Entered that great hall one last time, accompanied by the final group of peers and teachers I’d ever see,

Nothing but dry eyes here, won’t be exchanging hugs and kisses with ‘em, just want to get this over with, hop in my ride then leave ‘em,

Took a seat not far from the door, Rocky soundtrack pumping through my mind once more,

Plenty of writing will be involved, guaranteed that hand will be sore,

Pen to paper, jotting down responses while the hours are ticking,

Finished with half an hour to spare, finally, the final level completed,

Sat down in silence in a state of semi-meditation, taking in this winning feeling,

Dismissal arrived once three hours had elapsed, gathered my things then walked out the back,

Straight to the parking lot, two now-former classmates bade me farewell,

Grudgingly waved back, saw them off with a glare, hopped in my ride then drove off out of there,

Arrived home early, relief washes over, school’s out forever,

No blaze of glory as previously envisioned, student life ending without celebration,

The kid gloves are off, real life is about to begin,

Which way will you go? How far will you reach? Choice is yours, Kid, it’s yours for the taking.


Snail mail came knocking weeks later, moment of truth finally arrived,

Waiting for this a long time, let’s check out that UAI,

Fell short of the desired mark but still a passing grade,

Felt let down in way but a pass is still ok,

The next step is clearer, but that’s not to say it’s set in stone,

Still adrift at sea, sailing to nowhere on a dingy boat,

Much to their annoyance, their first-born seemingly on a hiding to nothing,

Failed to plan, planned to fail, thirteen years of schooling with nothing to show for it,

Then the Tax Office came calling, the work front taken care of,

As for further studying, signed up for a Cert IV TAFE course,

Seemingly back on track, feeling on top of the world,

Could only get better from here, sadly it just wasn’t to be,

Cut off from that nice-paying job, back to square one once more,

Good times, they never last, got me feeling gutted and ripped off,

Need to press on anyway, hoping for something better ‘round the corner,

In the distance a storm is brewing, thunderclouds are gathering.

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