I’M settling down to watch Killing Eve on catch up when the email comes through. It’s from the university, the one I’ve been studying at for what feels like forever. It says there’s an update waiting for me on the official university system.
Immediately my heart jumps into my mouth. I am not expecting to hear anything from them until results day at the end of June. The fact that they are contacting me now sends me into a panic.
‘Don’t panic,’ Chris says, as I frantically tap at my laptop, trying to log onto a system where I can never remember my password. I reset the username, reset the password and then I’m in.
‘You have one announcement,’ it says.
‘I’m not expecting an announcement,’ I say.
I click on the link. The wheel of doom pops up to say that the system is thinking about letting me in. It turns and turns; I struggle to sit still.
And then I’m in.
‘Strange,’ I say, reading the screen. ‘It says there’s feedback.’
Puzzled, I look at Chris, then taking a deep breath, I click on another link. There is no wheel of doom this time. Instead, it’s fast, no messing, no chance to prepare myself. Here are your results.
‘I’ve passed.’ I turn to Chris. ‘I’ve got a merit!’
‘That’s good,’ he says.
I nod. ‘But the results aren’t supposed to be out until the end of June.’
I read the feedback which is all about the novel I submitted. Chris reads it over my shoulder. ‘There’s a few typos,’ he says.
He has a point. The feedback seems rushed. Some of the characters have been confused.
‘Well, that must be it,’ I say, feeling a bit underwhelmed. I’d been hoping the feedback would help me turn my book into a bestseller.
‘Well done,’ Chris says. ‘Shall we watch Killing Eve, now?’
‘No…something doesn’t feel… right.’ I start to type an email to my tutor, thanking him for the feedback, saying I’d not expected it so soon.
When I’ve sent it, I phone my mum, because she has supported me through every chapter, paragraph and word.
‘I’ve passed my master’s,’ I shout into the phone, feeling the tears welling up.
‘Have you!’ she shouts back. ‘That’s wonderful!’
My tears start. All those hours of writing, snatching time whenever and wherever I could. Before work, after work, during my lunch hour. They have all been for this moment. ‘I’ve done it!’
The next day, I get another email from the university. This time from the tutor. ‘You’re not meant to be able to see that! It’s not been moderated. It needs to go to the exam board at the end of the month.’
So, I’ve not passed yet. I call Mum. ‘We can’t celebrate yet. The results aren’t official,’ I tell her.
‘It’s too late, I’ve got a cake.’
I smile. ‘We can have that anyway. You’ve not said anything to anyone have you?’
On the other end of the phone, Mum goes quiet. ‘No,’ she says eventually. ‘Apart from Olivia, who’s doing a talk about it at school.’
‘And Auntie Karen in America.’
When I get off the phone, a text from America is waiting for me.
‘Congratulations sweetheart! I am so happy for you…’ followed by a picture of a bottle being opened.
‘Thank you, but not official just yet.’
For the next few weeks I worry that the moderator will not agree with the tutor and that the examiner won’t agree with the moderator or tutor. I worry that I won’t pass. I worry….
Whenever I can I log onto the university system to see if there is any sign of the official result. It comes on the final Friday in June. Unlike last time, there’s no feedback but there’s an official looking section that tells me the master’s is mine.
‘Woohoo!’ I dance. I cheer. I feel so unbelievably proud of myself.
I phone my mum. ‘It’s official,’ I shout.
‘That’s good,’ she says, but without the excitement of last time.
I tell Chris. ‘You’ve done well,’ he says, then changes the subject. ‘Shall we watch Killing Eve tonight?’
The second time round, no one is sharing my excitement. I call Olivia, being seven she is bound to get excited about it. She gets excited about everything.
‘I’ve got my master’s degree,’ I tell her.
‘I thought you’d already got that?’
‘Well, I had…sort of.’
‘Is Uncle Chris there?’ she says. ‘I want a word.’
While I’m walking taller, delighted to have my degree, everyone else has moved on. I’m expecting another cake, but there’s not even a crumb. There are no congratulatory cards or celebratory meal.
‘I’ve done well,’ I keep saying, but no one is listening or maybe I’m just boring them.
There’s nothing else for it, I go to the Co-op and buy myself the chocolatiest cake I can find. I devour it in front of the telly, settling down to watch Killing Eve.
‘A master’s in writing,’ I say.
‘Shh,’ Chris says. ‘It’s about to start.’