Bookcase Short Stories


(c) Arike van de Water 2007-2009

A Note on Equations

The fantastic dream had gone and the fear had yet to enter the head of Dikta. She had gone from bed to dresser, from dresser to shower, from shower to kitchen. Only now her eyes were beginning to open. She'd dreamed she was a superstar on a stage where fifty-thousand people, all brilliant mathematicians, cheered her on while she sang the formulas she'd tried to get in her head the day before. Now, as dusty green irisses appeared under lids the colour of hospital-wall plaster, the fear chased out any trace of the songs. It wanted the space for itself. It cast around for a comfortable chair, then settled in for another day of exams and frantic studying, all the better to let the adrenaline flow.

Shaking hands made a sandwich that wasn't healthy, and would probable cause her stomach to get the rumbles by the time the first half hour had gone in the immense hall she was headed, but she didn't care. She needed comfort.

The short bike ride to school didn't make it better. She had three narrow misses with cars that thought three feet was a blasphemous distance to keep from cyclists. One made her break in order not to hit the curb. The rider behind her didn't make it better. He yelled at her as he whizzed past. Dreading what would come next, she started off again.

In the hallway, a last look at her notes was denied her by virtue of the teacher that was herding the thirty participants into the exam hall. Converted from a gym, the climbing racks had a dead look about them with the diminutive tables of the observators in from of them. The lines of the floor ran like crazed graph paper between squat brown-and-grey tables, plastic blue peeking over their edges. Everyone filed into their seats.

Click-click-click went Dikta's pen. Then, a faint humming came closer. The teacher put the test paper upside down on her table “Try not to make that noise during the exam, hmm?” he asked. He went on, the same song under his breath as before. It was the same tune Dikta had sang that night. Suddenly with a strange sense of confidence, she squared her shoulders, cracked her knuckles, and picked up the tune.

“Turn the papers!” Feeling like she'd ended up in a fantastic dream, Dikta turned the paper without fear, and started on her first calculation.