It gleams before me in the morning sun, taunting me, laughing at me. The beast I have to conquer; the dragon I have to slay. I take a deep breath along with a sip of my magic potion, the rich dark taste fills my mouth. It warms my insides as it slowly goes down. I feel it return a little of my strength. It almost makes me believe I can do this, almost.
Around me, my comrades all seem ready for battle, readier than I am. They walk ahead as I stand there frozen with fear and exhaustion. I watch their retreating backs as they get smaller and smaller, until they disappear from view completely. I feel ashamed as they start on the journey I too have to take. They face it with much more courage than I ever could. Admiration and sympathy war with my shame.
I’m running out of time. It’s a fact that’s becoming more and more apparent to me with every second that passes. If I don’t start this now, If I don’t survive this soon, there won’t be any point in doing it at all. I’ll be too late.
I try to move my feet forward. Just one step at a time, I tell myself. My body doesn’t listen. It seems no drink is magical enough to make it. The thought of my friends, in the warmth and safety of their rooms, haunts me. In the end, it doesn’t matter. We all have to embark on this quest at one time or another. You can delay this day, you can hide from it, but there comes a time when you just have to face it head on.
I sigh at the thought. It’s 8:45am now. There are no more minutes to waste. I take the last sip of my coffee, drinking in the last of its awakening spell. I square my shoulders and face my beast straight on. The main walkway looks like a long white serpent; each step a scale on its cruel skin.
It wants to take me down, but I think of the Clancy auditorium. I think of my lecture with its not-so-comfortable chairs, waiting for me. I think about my attendance and the mid-semester exams. That gets my feet moving.
Finally, I too begin to brave the dreaded, unavoidable walk from the lower to upper campus. After all, I can’t let the serpent win.