Trigonometry This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , sorry, CT
I remember the game the other girls used to play back in middle school. The cool sensation of ink against warm palms, the curve of names and numbers that were, for reasons that went unspoken and unquestioned, indisputably binding. A boy, a time, a game of chance - and if you happened to glimpse the first before the second had come to pass, asking him on a date was the only option. Some girls enjoyed the challenge, the thrill of playing with fate, but most learned quickly that it was a gamble in which they had little to gain and much to lose - because if the boy from third period was (tragically) head over heels for you and (comically?) hideous everywhere in between, it was better to let him pretend that maybe you were star-crossed lovers after all, separated by two orderly rows of disorderly students and a world of difference that lasted long after the echoes of the final bell had faded into the background again. But I never played and that meant I never learned, never truly realized that curiosity could kill the cat (and maybe other things, given the chance). So I took my inquisitive eyes and my too-big sneakers and my bracketed smile and I used them all to learn.

The other girls lost interest in their challenge soon enough, but high school came and suddenly attention-seeking escapades lent a pulse to the idle buzz of hallway gossip. They were short shorts and low grades while I was all uncertain angles, and maybe someone with the patience to solve for sine might have discovered the x and y of me that nobody knows, but the trigonometry of the soul is hard to learn and harder to teach. So I played at the formula for ambition and they became words like effervescent and capriccio, phrases that glowed with all the grace I wished I had but seemed suddenly too heavy on the tongues of the very girls they depicted. And that is when I decided I would rather express beauty than epitomize it, because what is written lasts longer than that which is winsome. (Dark curls will never change the world, but a constitution might.)

The heartbeat of the party down the street is no distraction to me now, though I sometimes stop to wonder when contradictory identities like cynic and escapist came to define me. I can say with certainty that they began somewhere between eyeshadow and dark circles, between strobe lights and the pallid glow of a computer screen, but sometimes that chasm seems so infinite, so permanent, that I wonder if maybe all the makeup did was bring to light something that has been here from the start.

Three houses down, the clean snap of a beer stopper. The glory of rebellion swells within them, and the roar swells with it.

I write.





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