"There were three..."
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?”
“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...