Al Ortolani, Taking the ACT in December

Al Ortolani
Taking the ACT in December

High school seniors file in this morning
to take the ACT. They are taught the future
hinges upon a two digit score that will
open doors. It’s a cold morning,
the roads covered with ice. The proctor
carries a cup of Starbucks and a stack
of essays to grade. She is young, just
a year or two beyond college herself.
The boys tap their pencils, wondering
if she is the one who will
meet them after the test, after their scores
are compiled, after the doors open. The girls
study her more closely: her boots,
her tights, her layered hair, the way
she shuts off her phone
and drops it—finished into her bag.


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