my eyes are stinging,
the lifeless computer screen stares back at me offering no reprieve.
my hand is cramping,
and the pencil looks like it’ll snap under pressure.
too many tabs open on the screen,
too little written on the paper in front of me.
the blankets are practically calling my name
but sleep can be sacrificed.
because sleep can be fixed.
a couple more cups of coffee,
cover up the eye bags with foundation.
smile. smile. smile. put on that
good student smile.
a ‘b’ can’t be fixed.
the ‘good job’ a teacher says when handing back a paper is like a drug.
seeing an a+ circled on the top of that paper.
that’s my high.
yet the euphoric feeling stays for less each time.
slowly, i crave more and more.
why did they just say good? did somebody else get great?
withdrawal; less sleep and a couple more tubes of foundation.
“your happiness is more important than your grades,”
friends, family, therapists repeat.
why don’t they get it?
the feeling after the first high.
the elusive 100 is what i chase.
my own messed-up version of happiness.
not a 99 or 98 or 97
not a so close good try but just not good enough.
i can’t look at a 94 and be proud anymore.
can’t look at it without thinking,
where did all those other points run
Ezri Rohatgi (she/they) is a 14-year-old freshman living in Southern California. They're an avid reader and loves adding books of any genre to their collection. In her free time, she enjoys pursuing her interest in politics and social justice issues and is always up to date on the recent news. You can always find them doodling on some assignments or curled up with a warm cup of tea.