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Death by deadline

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The room looks foggy. The lights are flickering between fluorescent white and dimmer yellow to the tune of crackling electricity. Or are they?

All I can hear is my heartbeat. Pounding.

I blink. It’s like sandpaper is underneath my eyelids.

My fingers move at inhuman speed over the keyboard, flitting intuitively between the letters, a blur above my keyboard. How are they doing that?

Fifteen sources down. Five to go.

Three minutes until the submission deadline. Three. Minutes.

Citation Machine is lagging. CITATION MACHINE IS LAGGING. It takes an extra 30 seconds to generate that citation. I don’t have an extra 30 minutes. Wait, seconds. Yeah, I mean seconds; I don’t have an extra 30 seconds.

Shaking my head, I turn back to the screen and wait for the words to come back into focus. Crisp black letters emerge from the iridescent white light of my laptop screen. Two hours of sleep really doesn’t feel that different from eight.

Those fingers. Her fingers. They continue to fly over the keyboard. Now that the bibliography is finished, they work on footnotes. That’s so redundant. Why do they want a bibliography and footnotes?

Why do they want this paper at all?

What is the purpose?

The girl with the greasy hair continues in her futile quest for academic validation. I pity her.

She is such a small, insignificant speck in this world. A mere dot in the library, which is a mere dot in Palo Alto, which is a mere dot on the Earth, which is a mere dot in the universe.

Nothing. She is nothing. This paper is nothing.

Except 40 percent of her final grade.

Christ! MY final grade.

Three minutes! No, ONE MINUTE.

One massive minute.

Submitsubmitsubmitsubmitsubmitsubmitsubmitsubmit.

Submit. Submit. Submit. Submit. Submit. Submit. Submit.

Suuuuuuuuubbbbbbbmmmmiiiiitttttttt.

Did it go through?

Double check.

C’mon c’mon c’mon.

Yes.

It’s in.

4:59 p.m.

Due at 5 p.m.

Beautiful.

For the first time in an hour.

She exhales.

For the first time in an hour.

I exhale.

 

Contact Phoebe Quinton at pquinton ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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