An excerpt from Helen DeGeneres’ exciting new novel
By Rebecca Peterson, Humour Editor
The hallways before you stretch into infinity as you trudge, solemnly, to your class. You walk with the gait of a condemned prisoner making their way to the noose. The notes and flashcards in your hands provide little comfort. It is too little, too late, and the vows you made at the beginning of the year to stay diligent in your studies are mere tatters of what they once were. You stopped taking your school agenda seriously by the third week of classes. Your regret is measured in the drops of sweat on your brow, the tremors in your heart, the three days of sleep lost—not to studying, but to procrastinating, promising yourself one more hour of Netflix before hitting the books.
Only, that hour never ended, and the books remained untouched. Your shame is palpable. The students part around you like a stream around a rock with poor time-management skills. Their judgment would hurt more if you weren’t so completely dead to the world that if an elephant were to charge down the halls, your only reaction would be to lay down in front of it and pray for sweet release.
You reach the classroom, and you survey your fellow classmates, hoping to find a kindred soul—or better yet, someone who is clearly worse off than you. The room reflects the width and breadth of the human experience. Some flip through notes, bury their noses in textbooks like ostriches finding solace in a pile of sand. There’s that corner of students who laugh to one another, feet up, because they never take notes and never study. The midterm does not touch their soul the way it touches yours. They’re probably going to pass. You hate them.
You take your seat and try to tell yourself that you’ll be fine. Studying on the SkyTrain counts. It’s all you need. You’re not convinced. Neither is the student next to you, whose crisp, clean notes speak of a person who wrote up their own study guide, and probably woke up at six o’clock this morning for a jog, a mug of green tea, and a round of flashcard memorization. You try very hard not to hate them, too.
Your professor arrives, smiling, likely remembering their own academic struggles and feeling a general sense of schadenfreude in the face of your suffering. They are grave, however, as they pass out the tests and remind everyone the penalties for cheating in a post-secondary institution.
You immediately panic. You are not cheating. You have no plans to cheat. But you’re convinced the answers might suddenly scrawl themselves over the palm of your hand, that your phone will wind up in your lap under your desk with a stolen cheat-sheet lighting up the screen. The prof will see this, and there will be a public beheading in the main hall at noon the following day, after your friends and family are informed of your academic dishonesty and overall mediocrity.
You take a deep breath. You’ve done this before. You can do it again.
You look down at the Scantron sheet. It asks for your name.
You have forgotten your name.
You call the prof over for help, but when they hear your question, they shake their head. “I can’t tell you the answer to that,” they say. “You’ll have to figure it out for yourself.”
You stare at the page a moment longer, and finally pencil in “Doritoface Monsternutz,” a placeholder answer until you remember.
You move onto the next question, and grip your pencil hard with terror. It asks for your Student ID number.
One thing’s for sure: You’re not passing this exam.
You accept the inevitable, and cast your soul into the void. The pencil drops from your slack grip. You are forever nameless, and forever free.