Chapter 57 – White Turned Black (2)
The exam started normally. Louise slowly looked over her test paper. It was a combination of short answers and an essay. Time distribution was the key. If she dawdled on either for too long, she wouldn’t be able to complete the exam. Louise wrote down the answers she was confident of.
About fifty minutes later, she found she was able to fill out most of her test. The questions were as expected, and she was in good spirits, even more so because Professor Juliana Lassen, who did not like Louise very much, was the writer of the exam. Louise, who was now working on the remaining problems, lifted her head for a moment.
‘Stella…is she okay?’
The red-headed girl sitting in front of her was also staring at her sheet with deep intensity.
‘Her hands are moving more vigorously than before. That means she’s well enough to go to the party, right?’
Finding herself burning time on unnecessary anxiety, Louise quickly lowered her gaze. If she had time to waste like this, she’d better go over her answers again.
When suddenly, something caught Louise’s eye. It was a sheet of paper, just below her desk. At a glance, she saw the contents written on it related to the exam.
‘…What is that?’
Did Stella drop it when she was rushing to put away her notes? She must have. Louise looked away from the notes as much as possible, but the presence of the notes was niggling at her.
She felt anxious. She was afraid of being misunderstood. On the notes was a formula she could memorize without having to cheat.
The test continued in deep suspense. Professor Lassen, who was seated at the head of the room at the beginning of the exam, must have been tired of staying still and started slowly walking among the students one by one.
‘What do I do…’
If she looked at Louise, she would definitely see the notes that had fallen in front of her desk. She’d rather say it first. I think Stella dropped her notes. But if she did that, the professor would criticize her for not saying it in the first place.
The professor was drawing nearer from behind. As the sound of her shoes rang louder and louder, so did the thumping of Louise’s heart, and her hand, which was writing down her answers, was now frozen.
‘What do I do? Do I just stay still?’
Somehow she didn’t think it would work. Louise carefully tried moving her feet and caught the sheet of paper on the tip of her shoe.
‘If I pull slowly like this…’
Finally, the notes came right under Louise’s shoes.
As the professor passed by Louise, she quickly turned to her paper again. She didn’t want to give the professor reason for an unnecessary misunderstanding. Professor Lassen wouldn’t grant Louise the virtue of fairness. Finally, the professor passed Louise’s side completely. Louise exhaled in relief.
‘I wasn’t caught…Thank God.’
In many ways, it would be disastrous if she was caught cheating on the test. Not only would her reputation be tarnished, but the school would punish her as well, and she couldn’t possibly hold on to being the top student anymore.
Louise began working on her sheet again with a lighter heart. She thought she should let Stella know when the exam was over.
Professor Juliana Lassen suddenly looked back at Louise.
Louise was startled. Did she see it?
“Have you solved all the questions?”
Louise replied tensely, and Professor Lassen began to approach Louise. Professor Lassen cut Louise a frightening look through her sharp glasses, and Louise’s hair stood on end as anxiety penetrated into her heart.
“Let me check for a moment.”
“Oh, I but still…!”
The professor disregarded Louise’s answer and looked at her paper.
“That’s enough. Let’s stop your exam.”
She folded Louise’s exam in half and lifted her chin. Stop and get up.
“But there’s a problem I haven’t solved yet, Professor.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Louise stared at the professor.
It doesn’t matter.
Louise didn’t understand what that meant. The other students taking the exam had stopped writing and were looking at them.
“Please let me finish the question. I’m not–”
The professor adjusted her glasses, the edges of her mouth pulling into a disgusted expression.
“So you don’t mind me exposing your dishonesty in front of all these students?”
Louise repeated, but the professor didn’t answer.
“Professor, I know what you’re seeing and it looks bad. But it’s a misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding, you say?”
“Then you don’t mind showing everyone the notes you’ve been hiding under her feet?
The room broke into shocked murmuring. The professor looked around and shouted, “Silence!”
“Professor, it was on the floor and I only accidentally saw it.”
The professor simply held out her hand without saying a word. She wanted the notes underneath her feet. Louise had no choice. She picked it up and placed it in the professor’s hand.
“This is interesting.”
The professor looked at the sheet of paper wondrously.
“It’s a coincidence that you found notes fallen on the floor, and it’s a coincidence that information about the test is written on it.”
“I didn’t write it! If you compare that with my test you just saw, you’ll see that the handwriting–”
“What does it matter? Nothing matters except that there’s evidence of your cheating.”
“But it’s not mine!”
“Then whose is it?”
The professor yelled, turning around and waving the notes around the classroom so that they could see the handwriting. A brown-haired student sitting nearby quickly shook her head. Students on the other side reacted the same way. The professor’s eyes were now on Stella, who was sitting in front of Louise.
Unlike the other students, Stella had continued concentrating on her exam, but now she put down her pen and looked up at the professor.
“Are these your notes?”
Stella’s eyes fell on the sheet of paper. Louise closed her eyes briefly in a moment of regret. She was worried that she might have accidentally wronged Stella. Should Louise have left the notes alone? No, the professor would have found it anyway. Louise was worried how Stella would be treated, but Stella answered calmly.
“…No, it’s not mine.”
Louise stared at Stella. Her first thought was a question that went beyond resentment and sadness.
‘Stella Lapis is honest and sweet…and the heroine of this world…right?’
“Louise Sweeney. I will confiscate your bag and lock it in the counseling room.”
The professor picked up Louise’s bag that was sitting beside her.
Louise wondered if Professor Lassen was looking for proof in it. But there will be nothing in it. Except–
At that moment, she realized her letter for Ian was in that bag. A strange feeling that she didn’t want the letter to be taken away overcame her. The last sentence of the letter contained the sincerity of Louise’s heart.
Louise tugged the bag away from the professor, and the half-opened bag returned to Louise’s arms. She couldn’t give Professor Lassen one private thing. The moment she was about to say so–
The professor struck Louise on the cheek.
“You should be ashamed of your dishonesty!”
The professor ripped the bag from Louise’s hands. The handle of the bag broke, and everything in it scattered onto the floor–books, notebooks, and even her thin letter.
A little ink bottle broke and stained her things. Louise stood in a daze as she watched the black ink run over her white letter.
“You’ve always acted wild from an early age, but I think you can make beautiful words. I look forward to your letter.”
Why? In such a ridiculous situation, she couldn’t help but think of his jokes.