Off the Shelf
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The Exam

Once upon a Thursday dreary, as I pondered facts and theory,
Doubtful I had ever studied physiology before.
While I nodded, almost napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my house’s door.
“You should use your card,” I shouted, “to get through my house’s door.
I must study even more.”

Ah, distinctly I remembered, it might be a school group member
Who, perhaps, did not have access to the house’s key card door.
Eagerly I stopped the study all in hopes to find a buddy
So the night would be less cruddy, cruddy from that study chore —
For the last and hardest test of that section I abhor.
Cramming for a passing score.

There I sat in desperation not to botch my education,
Memorizing information I had failed to learn before.
So that now to still the fleeting of my mind, I kept repeating
“Tis some friend of mine entreating to review on the third floor.
I beg that you help me study; your assistance I implore.
Studying alone’s a bore.”

Soon enough my prayer grew stronger. Unable to study longer,
“Med,” said I, “or Dental, truly your assistance I’d adore.
For I was this close to sleeping; fortunately you came creeping,
So I’ll try to keep from weeping, weeping on my house’s floor.
Maybe you could help me study.” Here I peeked outside the door.
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into a book I’m reading, for a passing grade I’m pleading.
Now the last thing that I need are noises I cannot ignore.
But my study time was fading, how long should I risk awaiting
Someone who would not mind aiding me to get a passing score
(Somebody of whose existence I was not completely sure)?
Better to complete my chore.

To the task at hand returning, all my brain now primed for learning.
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“I know!” I cried (really guessing), “Surely someone’s out there texting!
Though the sound’s a little vexing, and in taste that’s rather poor.”
Once again I rose from study, now knowing what was in store:
“Tis a phone and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the portal, seeing something not quite mortal,
In there stepped the rotting body from my first year class of gore.
Through the entryway he staggered, my old rotting pale cadaver,
Leaving me to stand and blabber as he moved across the floor.
In a chair he sat and stayed; around the room his eyes explored.
Sitting, looking . . . nothing more.

Now with terror I was brimming as the carcass started grinning,
Looking at me with a gaze that straight into and through me bore.
Still, it looked like those remains that I had studied with great pains
And whose arteries and veins I’d once spent hours looking for.
“Are you,” I asked, “dead or living, the assistant I’ve begged for?”
Quoth the body “Study more.”

So I thought that this delusion must be due to my confusion
From my Herculean efforts, started only nights before.
For we cannot help agreeing that no formerly dead being
Would judge study room sightseeing worth reanimating for.
No one there could ever help me try to get a passing score.
Was I doomed to study more?

But the body sitting lonely spoke to me those two words only,
Like it had rejoined the living simply for this brief rapport.
Nothing further did he utter, and my spine began to shutter,
Thinking I was now a nutter not a student anymore.
Still, the only words he muttered were the two I most abhor,
Telling me to study more.

Heeding, then, his one prescription, driven on by new conviction
Bolstering my past ambition to achieve a passing score.
Hours more in that room sitting, high yield facts I tried committing
To my memory, forgetting things that I had learned before.
In my mind that raspy voice crescendoed to an angry roar:
Every word was “Study more!”

Suddenly the sky grew lighter, concluding my overnighter.
My exam was fast approaching, so I started toward the door.
But as I began to stand, the body grasped me by the hand.
Reissuing that command which I was helpless to ignore.
There I froze, as though the ghoul possessed the Gorgons’ stare of lore.
All I heard was “Study more.”

And that figure, never moving, still is with me, ever looming
Here in my unlikely prison on that cursed and blighted floor.
Trapped within this wakeless dream, leaving me in silent scream
Helpless in that demon’s scheme, with no hope to hold out for.
And my mind, fatigued and anxious, knows the fate it must endure:
I shall forever study more.

Abigail Cline (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Medical College of Georgia

Abigail Cline, PhD is a third year medical student at Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. She received her doctorate from University of Georgia in 2012 in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Her current interests include Dermatology, Medical Ethics, Medical Education, and Translational Medicine. Her hobbies are baking, working out, and movies.