Back in my own flat I frantically scrabbled for my pad, called up Mercedes and Lancia. The image of those two old ladies formed within a window. Mercedes, the older one wore her vintage clothes and pearls, her crinkly hat with its veil-edging and only came up to the shoulders of her companion. Lancia, equally the old lady seemed somehow younger than her miniature companion. They both stared at me with fixed, inane grins.
“I’ve just come back from my exam,” I told them.
And my mind went back to that other, sprawling room with its office and desk in the raised section and the bedroom in the lower. I had lain on the bed and carefully written the answer to question one in black felt pen on the duvet. It had been a multi-part question and I had covered most of the surface with my answer. Now in horror I realised that there had been four questions on the paper and time was ticking away.
I immediately rushed out of my apartment and ran back to the examination hall, feeling a molasses-like resistance all the while. I took a short-cut up a steep, grassy bank and felt the stalks ripping from my fingers as I fought for grip, purchase eluded me.
Finally I was back in that room again. This time I sat at the desk, a vague thought troubling me: where was the invigilator? The office area was littered with papers, so where were the examination questions? A frantic search located them and I immediately set to work on question 2.
Soon I had finished, and made my way back to my flat. I called Mercedes and Lancia again. They reappeared in exactly the same pose. I started to explain when I realised to my dismay that I had only answered two of the four questions. And would they accept an answer written on a duvet? Would they even notice it?
It was too late, the exam time was up. ‘This is ridiculous’ I though, ‘It was a GCSE exam, absolutely trivial. I could do those questions in my sleep.’
And then I thought to my horror: ‘Is it possible I might fail?’