Written by Allison McCarty. 
Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss. 

Originally published as part of the Spring 2019 “Challenge” Issue.
– 

Months. Weeks. Days. Hours. Minutes.

It usually comes down to minutes.

Assignments, papers, tests, they’re all posted months in advance. The dates on the syllabus are distant, almost inconceivable. No need to think about it, there’s plenty of time. Write it on the calendar and forget about it. Put it on the back burner, there are more important things to be doing right now.

Don’t worry, it’ll get done.

Those months turn to weeks, but still, there’s time. After all, how many hours are in a week? Too many, more than enough. No pressure, just focus on the now. The present requires unfaltering attention. The future can wait. There’s still time.

Don’t worry, it’ll get done.

Days. When did it become days? That’s fine, it’s fine. Days are all that are needed. A voice emerges from the depths of the mind, a small sound that quietly speaks of the upcoming deadline. It is minute, just a whisper of caution. Push it down. Silence it. There’s still time. Plenty. Don’t think about it. There’s no need to be stressed when it can be easily forgotten.

Don’t worry, it’ll get done.

Hours? There must be a mistake. The date, that far-flung date, is now? Regret crashes like a wave, followed quickly by self-hatred. It’s happened again, this vicious cycle that seemingly cannot be broken. Time moves along a linear path that we all must take, and another inescapable deadline has been met along the way. It is an impasse, an obstacle of the present that obscures the pathway forward. Nothing has been started, and there are only hours left.

Worry. It’s not done.

It’s minutes. Somehow, there are only minutes. The future is now. There is no more time. Stress. Overwhelming stress begins its bodily invasion, amplifying the voice that shouts from the back of the mind. Anxiety and adrenaline have taken over. The present is quickly seeping away, flowing into the past no matter how tightly it is clung to. The future deadline approaches like a bullet train and tied to the tracks is the overpowering voice of conscience. It screams and begs the all too familiar question as it meets its impending ruin.

“Why do you always wait until the last minute?”

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