piercing eyes burn straight through me. i feel exposed and peeled open, as my last rational thoughts drizzle through the gaps between my fingers and pile up on the ground like wet sand. i take my shaky steps like the earth is depending on me to prevent her from quaking. and as the hands on the clock reach out to strangle me, i break a sweat and try to choke out words. i fail, and the judging eyes judge. the fragile silence is broken by whispers.