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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1896755
Phoenix takes his neuropharmacology test and later reads his Spanish Bible, thinking...
Phoenix had clicked through the presentation slides for his friend as she did her lecture for the first class.  The German student did his lecture after hers was finished.  All of this right before the first molecular neuropharmacology exam of the semester.  Everyone was nervous, whether they wanted to admit it or not.  Phoenix had memorized all of the many lists that the professor had given, attempted to keep all of the information straight, and made sure that he knew how to do a drug dosage calculation.  These were the things that most of the class expected from the test.  The lectures in the first class did not take long, and left about 40 minutes between the end of class and the exam time, and it was time to study.  Everyone had their notes, index cards, and books out.  Phoenix was not panicked, but had a sense that his expectations were going to be dashed by the professor.

Once a warrior, always a warrior.  Phoenix thought of it in Spanish, trying to distract himself from the test long enough to make sure that he did not muddy his mental organization of the material.  Una vez un guerrero, un guerrero siempre.  Phoenix thought of other phrases in Spanish to distract himself.  One of the main ones that he looked at in his notebook before he took the test was this: La presencia de Dios es fuerte dentro de ti.  The presence of God is strong within you.  Phoenix prayed after he read it.  The phrase was a quote from his pastor from a few months before.  Phoenix needed to get in touch with his pastor, who was just recently back from sabbatical.

Mike.  The professor.  He was a truly brilliant man with such intelligence that it was intimidating to Phoenix.  He wanted to know this man, but he was afraid of looking dumb in Mike's presence.  Mike insisted on being called Mike, but Phoenix got away with calling him "Sir."  Phoenix was not comfortable with calling a man that so intimidated him by his first name.  Professors took on officer status in Phoenix's mind.  It had taken Phoenix a long time to bring himself to call any of the professors by their first names, which they all preferred, of course.  Phoenix had begun calling them by their first names more out of social conformity than out of a sense of comfort.  Mike entered the room and handed out the tests.

The first neuropharmacology exam of the semester was a shock to everyone.  No one expected what they were seeing on the exam.  There were 10 multiple choice items, which were reasonable and fit the expectations that Phoenix had developed in his mind.  The essays, however, blew everyone away.  "Describe the pharmacological actions of this drug," and "describe the pharmacological actions of that drug," and "name two toxins and describe their pharmacological effects," and "describe the second messenger system of the G protein."  No lists.  No calculations.  Phoenix drew many pictures to illustrate his points and wrote very little, hoping that he could get his point across visually where his words were insufficient.  It took everyone less than 40 minutes to complete the test.  Everyone had the impression that they had done horribly.  Some were angry.  Others cried.  Phoenix and a few of the other graduate students sat downstairs near the food court to visit about the test while they made sure everyone was finished with it before their next class.  Mike walked by and asked, jokingly, "Why isn't anyone talking to me?"  Phoenix joked back and greeted him with his customary "Sir," asking him how he was doing.  "I'm good.  How are you doing?"  Phoenix told him that maybe that was not the best question to ask.  "Oh, you all did fine.  I'm sure you did.  You all did just fine.  I know it."  Phoenix was laughing inside at Mike's confidence in their ability to answer questions they knew absolutely nothing about.  Mike walked on and the graduate students, Phoenix included, decided to go back to the classroom.  They all hoped that Mike's expectations that they all did fine on the test were met...

Phoenix gave his friend a ride home after their last class of the afternoon and then went into his office to read his Spanish Bible.  He was free for the afternoon.  He had earned that.  What he chose to do with that time was entirely his option.  He began trying to decipher what some of it meant.  He was still on the introduction page of Genesis, and had been since he had gotten his Bible several days earlier.  He thought that the best way to learn Spanish, though, was to use what was familiar to him, and the Bible was definitely no stranger.  Phoenix began to look up words and put things together.  For a few moments, he saw a pattern in the language.  He went with it and, beyond not knowing the exact meaning of the words, was able to gain comprehension from context and sentence structure.  Phoenix was doing it - he was learning Spanish again!  He had always been so fearful of getting something wrong that he would only attempt to learn Spanish in the presence of a professor, which meant that he had to be in a college Spanish class.  He was doing it now, though.  Without a professor.  Just Phoenix and God.  That was all the explanation Phoenix needed.  His expectations would be met - his expectations of learning Spanish.  It had always been with him.  He just never stepped out into the realm of possibility with it.  He always had to have a crutch before.  Now it was clear.  He could - and would - step out in faith with this language.  Phoenix's expectations were before him, and it seemed that everything was falling into place to bring them to fruition...all he had to do was believe.
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