(Or How My Secret Gift Became Not-So-Secret)
In our last episode, a schoolboy discovered a way to learn math from a very-talkative-and-totally-annoying math teacher. During her lecture, he let his mind wander into a trance-like state in which he had a vision. The vision imparted to him perfect understanding of the math.
Well, I not only got an “A” on my homework, I aced the test Mrs. Fletcher gave at the end of the week. In fact, I was the only one who even passed! Cool beans! I decided to do the mind-wander thing again when Mrs. Fletcher launched into a new topic. It happened again; I had another vision during Mrs. Fletcher’s lecture on “Probability Distributions.”
This time, I saw a smooth hill, kind of like the one in Close Encounters, only rounded, not flat, on top. A skateboarder was at the bottom of the hill and was inching his way up the slope. Only this was weird. The dude wasn’t pushing himself at all; he was just gliding along like he was riding a wave downward, only he was going up. An inky stream of liquid trailed from his skateboard and drenched the side of the hill in his wake. He rode the slope of the hill to the top and then rode it back down to the bottom on the other side, all the while covering the hill in black. He turned to me and waved.
“Dude, that was awesome!” I shouted. Laughter broke into my vision. I was sitting at my desk and the students around me were busting up.
“What was awesome?” Jarrod wanted to know.
“Nothing.” I said.
Cynthia turned around.
“Mrs. Fletcher thinks you were talking about her,” she whispered.
I looked at Mrs. Fletcher. She had a pleased smirk on her face. Sick! She looked like she was going to say something to me but luckily the bell rang. I grabbed my books, papers, and backpack and made a beeline for the door. That was a close call. I was glad for the vision ‘cause now I knew what a probability distribution was, but I was going to have to keep quiet about it. Maybe I could put some tape on my mouth if it wasn’t too noticeable.
This continued for the rest of the quarter. For every math topic Mrs. Fletcher taught I had a vision that gave me perfect understanding. “Asymptotic Functions” was Jack-in-the-Beanstalk on steroids. “Logarithms and Exponents” was a Betty Grable dance review. My favorite was “Tangent Line Approximations”. It was a bunch of girls running the fifty-meter dash—naked. I was acing every test.
I felt kind of guilty because two of my best buds were also taking Advanced Math and were struggling just to keep from failing. I considered telling them about my secret gift, but what if it worked for them too? One “A” in the class was okay; it would be an outlier. But what if suddenly there were three A’s? It would look suspicious. So I helped them as best as I could after school in the library and at home on the weekends. Still, there were limits about what Jeff and Carlos could learn the regular way, and the best I could get them to was a C.
Second quarter was halfway through when trouble hit. I was sitting with some friends having lunch when Jeff and Carlos confronted me; Jenny Vue was with them.
“Dude,” said Carlos, “we need to talk to you…privately. Over there.” He nodded in the direction of the basketball court.
“Sure thing, “ I said.
I gathered up my stuff and walked with the three of them in silence to the far side of the basketball court. I had an idea of what they wanted; in fact, I had just about made up my mind to let them in on my secret. But they had Jenny Vue with them. They knew how I felt about her…was that why she was here? Was this to tempt me? I had to be on my guard.
Carlos planted himself in front of me.
“Hey, dude, we want to know what’s up with you. All of a sudden you’re Mr. Math who knows everything, and we know you don’t know shit!”
“Carlos!” Jenny Vue gently but firmly pushed him aside. “Let me,” she said. Jenny Vue then placed her hand on my arm, which suddenly went numb, and looked up in my face. My eyes felt numb.
“It’s just that we noticed that you are doing better than anyone else in Mrs. Fletcher’s math class. It seems so easy for you.”
“Too easy,” Jeff interrupted.
Jenny Vue frowned at him. “Jeff!” She looked back at me and continued.
“We were wondering if you could tell us your secret. We don’t want you to cheat or anything; just, you know, help us out. Tell us what to do, and we will do it. We promise.”
Oh, man! What could I do? Jeff and Carlos were my two best buds and Jenny Vue was, well, she was Jenny Vue. I stood there searching my brain for a way I could tell them what they wanted without sounding like a lunatic. After a few moments of silence, Jeff exploded.
“Man, he ain’t goin’ to tell us nothin’. He just wants to keep it to himself.”
“Wait,” I said. “Remember in Mr. Chavoor’s class when we read Romeo and Juliet? He said not to try and understand Shakespeare word for word but just to relax and let the words surround you? It was like listening but not really concentrating. Well, it’s like that in Mrs. Fletcher’s class. I don’t really concentrate or try to take notes or nothing. I just let my mind relax, and the words seep in.”
“No, I swear; that’s what I do and somehow I end up understanding the math.” Their expressions bugged me. “Hey, I’m tellin’ what I do and it works for me.” I shrugged. “It might not work for you but you might as well try it. It can’t hurt anyhow.”
We spent the rest of lunch period talking about about Mr. Chavoor, Ms. Hart, and the Great Honk. When the bell rang, Carlos, Jeff, and Jenny Vue had agreed to try out my technique next time they were in Mrs. Fletcher’s class.
It turned out that the technique worked for them, too. One thing that was weird was that none of us ever had the same vision. For example, I experienced “DeMoivre’s Theorem” as a battle between Transformers taking place on a polar ice cap. Jenny Vue saw a series of constellations in which the stars danced around right triangles. Carlos’ vision was of French zombies disemboweling the football team. And for some strange reason, Jeff had a vision of a bunch of girls running the 50-meter dash naked. Hey, whatever works!
We all got A’s in Advanced Mathematics, thanks to Mrs. Fletcher and the visions she inspired. There was no doubt that woman could talk!
Terrible Minds Writing Prompt: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2017/06/09/flash-fiction-challenge-ten-random-titles/
Daily Prompt: Revelation