A. Bathroom stall, six minutes until calculus. He uses his dad’s credit card to cut neat white lines on the copy of The Two Towers he stole from the library this morning. Don’t worry, he’ll give it back. He only has a few chapters left. A one dollar bill does the trick. (No need to show off inside a high school bathroom stall.) Teacher won’t notice, classmates won’t notice, friends won’t notice. No one cares what a genius does in his free time as long as he gets perfect scores and raises his hand before speaking.
B. Red Bull number seven on top of a caffeine pill. She knows the sugar is bad for her vocal cords, but the audition isn’t until tomorrow. Worry about exams today. Honey tea exists for a reason. She feels like puking, but can recite the entire study guide, equations and all. Something about being surrounded by effortless genius inspires her, even if she rots her teeth and has heart palpitations in the process.
C. Bathroom mirror, five minutes until she has to be in calculus. She touches up her lip gloss and smiles at her flawless reflection. She wants to be reviewing the second integration technique they learned last week, but she knows those aren’t the numbers most important in her life. Height, waist, bust, shoe size, dress size, ACT, SAT, GPA, calories consumed, miles run. Get those in order, then you can have fun with indefinite integrals and graphing limits.
D. They’re called boyfriend and girlfriend. They wait outside calculus class before it starts, perpetually bound by the same set of earbuds, listening to NPR and bands with names like “Psychic Teenagers” or “Neverland PD.” (“LOOK AT HOW INTERESTING WE ARE.”) They don’t speak about anything other than what Ira Glass tells them is topical, analyzing without context, creating pseudo-philosophies, running their brains on stationary bicycles. You would think they’re happy.
E. An elaborate setup: classroom door locked, lights turned off, cheap plastic fan oscillating, back door propped open with a broken desk, teacher sneaking a joint out back and grading quizzes. The only kids who might recognize the smell are the ones who understand enough to keep their mouths shut about it. He hasn’t been sober since second period. Advanced placement calculus is bearable; remedial trig and basic algebra are not. (He feels his soul wither every time someone asks for the Python-agon theorem.) Is this purgatory or hell?
F. All of the above.
A. The boy listening to his iPod before you walked into class drove by a car crash this morning. He stared. He felt guilty for not crying, but he did turn down his music.
B. There was a car crash on the side of the road, 1000 yards away from the theater building. Event witnessed by 4 people, aftermath witnessed by 122 people. 1 car, 3 bodies pulled from wreckage. 2 survivors. There will be an empty seat in your biology class tomorrow.
C. The girl you just glared at for noisily crunching her empty energy drink took a turn too quickly in her car this morning. She thought the noise behind her was the radio. She didn’t look back.
D. Your neighbors got into a fight about who gets to shower first this morning. For one of them, it will be the last conversation they have.
x = Insecure, change clothes. x = Nothing matters.
y = It is 30˚ outside. y = Throw core out the window.
f = Sleep. f = Roll a joint.
g = Late to class. g = Spill coffee, burn leg.
x = Go back to sleep. x = Finish homework.
y = Everything is the same. y = Cry.
f = Zone out. . f = This is pointless.
g = Play hooky. g = Believe her words, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
x = Forget deodorant.
y = Blast techno music.
f = Wish for sixteenth birthday.
g = Every day is the same.
14. THIS QUESTION IS IN THREE PARTS, ANSWER ALL SECTIONS COMPLETELY
Observe the chart below:
Rate of decline:
A. Bathroom stall, six minutes until calculus. He reads the copy of The Two Towers he checked out from the library this morning. He’ll return it today. He only has a few chapters left. He might just skip class. Teacher won’t notice, classmates won’t notice, no friends to notice. No one cares what a genius does in his free time as long as he gets perfect scores and raises his hand before speaking.
B. She lied and said she wasn’t sick. The anti-Ferris Bueller. She’ll be able to take her exams, but she might as well give up auditioning with a fever. She feels like puking, but can also recite the entire study guide, equations and all. Something about being surrounded by effortless genius inspires her, even when her temperature is in the triple digits.
C. Bathroom mirror, five minutes until class. She touches up her lip gloss and smiles at her flawless reflection. She dropped calculus in the first week. She knows those aren’t the numbers most important in her life. Height, waist, bust, shoe size, dress size, ACT, SAT, GPA, calories consumed, miles run. Get those in order, and don’t waste your time with anything else.
D. They’ve been called boyfriend and girlfriend, but they’re just best friends. They wait outside calculus before it starts, perpetually bound by the same set of earbuds, listening to NPR and bands with names like “Against Me!” or “Wingnut Dishwasher’s Union.” (Teenage punks support each other.) They see every terrible part of humanity in the news programs they watch together, but they are determined to fight. You can tell they’re happy.
E. A simple setup: desks in a row, teacher at his desk, a few overachievers going over the study guide before the bell rings. The teacher browses scores for last night’s game, passing the time. The only students who greet him are the kid with the track marks, the smart girl who wears too much makeup, and the girl who can’t do math worth shit, but sings like an angel. He doesn’t mind that the others ignore him. Advanced placement calculus is bearable; remedial trig and basic algebra are not. (He theorizes they project their hatred of math onto him.) Maybe he’ll get out one day.
F. All of the above.
Who is the greatest mathematician of all time?
Abigail Hodge was born in the swamps of Florida, and there have been no official sightings since. She has been published in Chapman University’s Calliope and e-research: A Journal of Undergraduate Work. She also created the webseries Roommate Needed and has a short film in production with the same crew. To keep up with theories about her whereabouts and report possible sightings, you can follow @hodgex2000 on Twitter, or call a meeting in your local town hall.