105 comments

High School Contemporary

"There were three..."


"Point??"


"...None." 


Silence, then: "...For what?"


He sighed at her. "Did you even read the text? Fifteenth century not interesting you?"


Eyes glued on her phone, she casually responded: "Nein."


“Look, I can’t do ALL your homework for you. December 26 or so, Columbus' ship Santa María ran aground and was lost,” he soldiered on.


“It was among… five total?”


“Argh! Three ships, not five: the Santa María, Pinta and Niña! I thought everyone knew this stuff.” Exasperation threatened an eclipse of his current good deed. “How did you even make it through grade school?!”


“Google,” she said, scrolling. “Eight days a week!”


He was nearly fed up. “Put down the damn cell phone. It doesn’t really matter if Dick Van Dyke turned 97 today, or that Bruce Willis has dementia now, or what hair color Nicki Minaj chose this week! What matters is that you are not gonna pass this particular class if you can’t put some effort into this report,” he downed a slug of Coke and ran a hand through his hair. She was smart, but playing dumb was her favorite act. “Ok, we can do this. Start small: do you know the significance of Columbus’s voyages?”


“Nein!” She glanced up and checked for a smile.


Instead, he grimaced. She decided she'd get serious: “Ok, there were originally three ships, now there were two. They were on their way towards – what history calls – the discovery of the Americas.”


“Yes!” he nearly shouted triumphantly. “Ok, getting there. Now, he had three voyages, and it took eight years until the voyaging was all complete. The significance is that the voyages are considered as marking the beginning of globalization.”


“Wasn’t it four voyages?”


“She shoots, she scores! I can’t tell if you were paying attention at some point, or if that was a lucky guess, but I’ll take it. At least you didn’t say “six” or “two” or really any other number.” He finally had a hint of a smile. “Now, can you just choose any of the focus topics regarding the consequences of Columbus?”


“There’s only six. What about Indi’ans?”


He choked. “God forbid!” 


“Why not?” she asked, feigning bafflement. “We’re calling them Indigenous Americans these days, so I’m just shortening it. “Three Indians” isn’t the same as “three Indi’ans” – can't you tell how I’m saying it??”


“Sure: you’re saying it like a national embarrassment,” he said. “I cannot even be bothered educating you on just how wrong that phrase is – I have a big enough job on my hands already.” Stretching, he switched tracks: “Last time I ate was breakfast; got anything? It’s nearly 3 pm.” She shrugged, so he rummaged through the fridge, put together a sandwich, then returned. “Let me check the topics… hmm,” he said, peering at the list. “How about the last choice: European Consequences?”


“Too boring.”


“There’s no choice numbered seven-plus… just chose!”


“...nein?” She figured maybe this time was the charm.


Nope. “Stop saying that! If you wanna study some German, fine, but it certainly won’t help you pass this class: you gotta get a 50% or better grade on this report or you are taking history all over again.” He paused. “Wait, are you interested in Mr. Evans or something?”


“Of course not, it’s just that we have 28 more days – nearly a month! – until it’s due. You know I do my best work under pressure,” she whined.


Tossing her a Coke: “Just ate – want anything?”


“Not for me, thanks.”


They sipped their drinks in silence. At 19, he hated hanging around highschoolers now, but she needed the help.


“I won’t always be around here helping with your self-induced crises you know, sis,” he said. “I can’t be the only serious sibling. Only thing keeping me from getting on I-71 and heading back towards college right this minute is that I haven’t told Mom goodbye yet. You keep stalling. Last night, you had us doing pizza and video games. The night before, it was watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure…” 


“69, dude!” she interjected, laughing at the catch phrase. He took a deep breath and continued, “I’m really worried that you have such a lackadaisical attitude about your grades. I know you’ve never failed, and I know that you’re smart, but nothing makes up for the absolute squandering of time that you seem set upon. Do you wanna be stuck in Cassity the rest of your life, completely doomed?”


“Hey, what’s wrong with Cassity?” she asked, missing the point. “Mom says that she and dad spent the best times of their 39 years together, here. If he’d made it longer, then those would have been good, as well.”


He laughed. “That’s funny, because she’s confided in me – more than once – that it felt more like 93 years together, sometimes there at the end.” He switched back into a serious vein: “Look, I don’t wanna tell you your business, but you bet – if it was me – I’d be trying a lot harder at getting away from this place. If you’re happy enough, then all good, but there’s a great big world out there, full of lots of discoveries at least as interesting as those that Columbus made. So, think about it, okay?”


She tucked a stray hair behind her ear – a sign he knew well from their childhood. She was anxious. “I think part of it is that I just don’t know what I wanna do after high school,” she said. “It seems safer and less scary if I just imagine my whole life as unchanging, than if I try thinking of new paths I might follow if I can get a 75% grade in this class.”


He kissed her forehead. “Think bigger. I’ll return at 10.”


***


Challenge summary: This story has the first 50 decimal digits of the series of Pi. Each paragraph has not only the corresponding next-in-series number or number pair – either outright/buried in the text or as a homonym – but each paragraph also has that same number of words. As an added challenge, I avoided using the words "one" and "to/too" when there wasn't a 1 or 2 necessary in that word group. Math is beautiful, big fan. :)


3 . 1 4 15 9 26 5 35 8 97 9 32 38 4 62 6 4 33 83 2 7 9 50 28 8 4 19 71 69 39 93 75 10...

February 17, 2023 20:50

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

105 comments

Kathy Trevelyan
13:32 Feb 27, 2023

I really enjoyed this Wendy. I had no idea that the numbers were pi, and was intrigued, trying to figure out how they were related! A good story and a clever interpretation of the prompt. Glad you put the explanation at the end!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
15:28 Feb 27, 2023

Thanks so much for the kind words, Kathy! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Penelope Conlon
10:45 Feb 27, 2023

I really enjoyed the conversation between these siblings, and completely forgot about the mathematical prompt you were writing to till you explained it at the end! Amazing! Go you - loved it.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
15:29 Feb 27, 2023

Well thank you so much for that, Penelope - your comment made me smile! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
02:52 Feb 27, 2023

Very interesting ideas, you doubled up on math with the word count and the number present in the paragraph, how clever!!!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
04:25 Feb 27, 2023

Thank you so much, Alina - I appreciate you giving it a read and taking the time to comment! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tara Leigh Parks
02:44 Feb 27, 2023

This is super imaginative, fun, and intelligent. I love certain types of riddles and games, but math has never been my strong point. You have demonstrated a lot of cleaverness and talent in this story. Very original. Love the title. Also, you have great dialogue, like: "“'Why not?” she asked, feigning bafflement. “We’re calling them Indigenous Americans these days, so I’m just shortening it. “Three Indians” isn’t the same as “three Indi’ans” – can't you tell how I’m saying it??'" and the 93 years section. It all works for the prompt but it w...

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
04:23 Feb 27, 2023

Thank you so much for the lovely and encouraging comment, Tara! :) I appreciate it!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
20:59 Feb 26, 2023

This reminds me of a student in my class who recited the first 200 digits of pi from memory while blindfolded. Fun use of the challenge!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
21:29 Feb 26, 2023

Oh boy, I cannot imagine! Thanks, Madeline. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Zack Powell
05:29 Feb 25, 2023

Wendy, you are a brave soul. I was never going to touch this prompt with a ten-foot pole. And to do it in such a sly way was truly genius. Really love that you hint at the math sequence in the title, so even before the explanation at the end, we're already primed for the number words to come up. I had a lot of fun reading this and trying to keep track of when/where the 'key words' occurred. Sure enough, you did it. Really impressed by this one, and the fact that you were still able to tell a story while under this stipulation. Not an easy ta...

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
05:41 Feb 25, 2023

Thanks so much, Zack - always a pleasure to see your name on my threads, and I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts (and in such a very flattering way!). I am so glad you enjoyed it! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Amanda Lieser
05:49 Mar 03, 2023

Hey Wendy! Wow! Ok, so this one was a story I read, but certainly needed a re read. Especially after the lovely author’s note. Math has always gone over my head a bit so I liked that you helped provide that guidance. While this story addressed the challenge, I also really liked that it was a story. It felt like a conversation that I would have had in high school-back when we all thought we knew it all and would die on any mole hill we deemed worthy of being a mountain. Nice work!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
14:54 Mar 03, 2023

lol I love the way you put that, and boy it does take me back! :) Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging review, Amanda! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Chris Mueller
03:23 Mar 03, 2023

Fantastic story, Wendy! I'm just going to have to trust you on the math stuff. Math is not my forte. How do you write so fast? Haha.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
03:27 Mar 03, 2023

haha Thanks, Chris! I appreciate the compliments. :) I always want to say "Just focus on quantity over quality - anyone can do it!" when someone asks that, lol. :) Ideas aren't difficult for me, but I have a whole lot of writing courses to go, before my stories are where I want them to be. :) Thank you VERY much for the encouragement!

Reply

Chris Mueller
22:15 Mar 03, 2023

Wendy, if you don't mind me asking. You mentioned writing courses. Do you do them online, or do you go to school? If so, can you recommend any?

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
22:47 Mar 03, 2023

Hi Chris! There's one starting March 6th through Globe Soup (it's an email course) called "How to Write Stories that Win Contests," which will be the first course that I will have taken. :) Hopefully Reedsy will let me post this comment, lol. I'm looking forward to it, though, and the name itself is enough for me to be excited to see how it goes! I think you can still sign up, if you're interested. https://www.globesoup.net/how-to-write-stories-that-win-contests-course

Reply

Chris Mueller
02:45 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Wendy! I will check it out.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Susan Catucci
01:56 Mar 02, 2023

Okay, sis, you're talking to a "calculator, don't fail me now" math wiz don't-wannabe. And I can't begin to understand, like so many things in life, how you did it, but you presented enough in words I did comprehend that I not only got it, I loved it. I'd like to know what sort of formula came up with the likes of you! In a word, DANG!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
02:03 Mar 02, 2023

Girl, you are so awesome. :) Thank you so much for the support and fantastic review. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Amanda Fox
21:30 Mar 01, 2023

I love this idea - well executed on the prompt, and a fun story to boot!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
21:31 Mar 01, 2023

Thanks so much, Amanda! I really appreciate it. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Darryl Roberts
02:52 Mar 01, 2023

Great story, but also very clever use of the prompt. You managed to do it very organically without feeling forced.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
02:54 Mar 01, 2023

Thanks so much, Darryl - appreciate you giving it a read, and the kind words. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Ruth Simms
19:05 Feb 28, 2023

No offense intended, delightful story, however, I thought the contest was for strictly dialogue, no other descriptions or actions. But maybe I misunderstood the challenge.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
19:57 Feb 28, 2023

There are 5 contest prompts each week. There was one for dialogue-only, but this contest was a different one, for mathematical integration (says at the top of this page, which one it's for). None taken, and thanks for the compliments on the story! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kathryn Kahn
20:45 Feb 27, 2023

Wendy, I loved this. So clever! I was trying to figure out the puzzle -- what the numbers mean -- but I kept getting distracted by the story, so that's great storytelling.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
15:47 Feb 28, 2023

Hey, thanks so much, Kathryn - that is incredibly encouraging, and I appreciate it! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Shane Murray
20:41 Feb 26, 2023

Wendy, very clever! I always get a kick out of Pi as well when used like this. Don’t know why but it’s one of my favorite mathematical principles.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
20:45 Feb 26, 2023

Thank you, Shane! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
John Lindquist
20:11 Feb 26, 2023

Cleverly done. To write a story within the confines of Pi seems fun and difficult. A good read, thanks.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
20:16 Feb 26, 2023

Thanks, John!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sue Hunter
17:54 Feb 26, 2023

This was such an interesting take on the prompt, great work!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
17:54 Feb 26, 2023

Thanks, Sue! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Andrew Fruchtman
16:09 Feb 26, 2023

Yikes! Awesome challenge. I avoided this prompt and picked others. Guess I was intimidated. You nailed it. Amazing.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
16:14 Feb 26, 2023

Thank you so much for the kind and lovely review, Andrew! I really appreciate you taking the time to read mine, and I am definitely going to seek yours out now out of curiosity! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Molly Kelash
16:06 Feb 26, 2023

This is great! I am in awe that you not only included the number within the paragraph, but that you ensured the number of words corresponded to it. AND you managed to make it so funny. Plus, the title is P-E-R-F-E-C-T! Must have felt good when this all clicked together with such mathematical accuracy!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
16:07 Feb 26, 2023

Thanks so much, Molly! I'll admit, it was pretty satisfying, but when I saw how very many good math prompt responses there are this week, I was simply grateful to be among such awesome reading! I really appreciate your lovely comment. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Thom With An H
03:54 Feb 26, 2023

I have to imagine this was actually fun to write. There is something about math that can be beautiful and to honor it and also write a good story is really impressive. Forget Burger King, screw McDonalds, to hell with Taco Bell. I’m exclusively a fan of Wendy’s.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
03:57 Feb 26, 2023

Aw, you! :) Your puns are awesome, and here you flatter me with my very own. :D Thanks so much for the encouraging review, Thom - I admire your work immensely, so I am extremely delighted that you enjoyed this!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Helen A Smith
03:31 Feb 26, 2023

This is striking and original Wendy. Something I could never have attempted. Well done

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
03:43 Feb 26, 2023

Thank you so much, Helen! There were so many great math prompt participants this week that I am thoroughly enjoying other spins on it! Appreciate your kind words. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply