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Math is the only thing I can rely on. It keeps me grounded and my head full of variables so it doesn’t wander anywhere it’s not supposed to. I’m a creative person and my mother always said that I should have focused more on the arts, but I disagreed. I’ve seen writers and artists who have put their heads up in the clouds and never come down.
Dreams of dragons float up without a sound
Visions of exponential decay plunge to the ground.
“Why don’t you have a girlfriend, Cassius?” my mother once asked. “You’re young, handsome, and smart! Live a little! You can’t stay buried in fractals and blueprints forever!” I’m always in my bedroom working on my hobbies: fractal art and architecture.
“I never felt the need for the love of a girl,” I answered. I mean, what am I going to say? Hey baby, I’m a derivative and I want to lay tangent to your curves. Awkward, just awkward.
“Do you feel love at all? All this godforsaken math has made you go numb!” Okay, that stung. I feel! I just prefer to bury feelings under equations and tables.
I walk down the stairs into a dark living room. The house is empty. It’s just me here.
My thoughts are undergoing evolution
Turning into an empty set with no solution.
I don’t bother turning on the lights since I belong to the darkness. I don’t deserve to do the deed I’m going to do in the light. Anyways, back to love…I lied to my mother. There is a girl I love--Julia, my neighbor, and she’s way out of my league. Math nerds don’t date queen bees. I gathered up the nerve to ask her out for dinner, but I made a mistake. I asked her in front of her friends.
“Hey Julia,” I said shyly. “I’m Cas, your neighbor, and I-I was wondering if you might go to dinner with me sometime.” Nothing was said for the longest time until one of her friends chuckled.
“Isn’t he like the rocket scientist here?” some guy quipped. The rest of her friends started laughing and Julia frowned at them, giving several of them warning smacks. Once they shut up she turned to me and said that she would go.
I was pretty shocked and kind of had this feeling that it was too good to be true. It was. I picked up Julia to go to the restaurant, but her guard bees showed up and dragged their queen away.
I never tried to ask her out again. Instead, I resorted to just silently observing her from a distance and loving her no less.
My heart is throbbing with beautiful pain
Because she doesn’t belong in my domain.
I go to the kitchen, which is also dark, and feel around for the metal protractor my father gave me before he died. I think back to when my love of math first started when I was six or so.
My dad was an architect so he was sort of a math nerd as well. We were both sitting on the back porch, watching the Arizona sunset. Mom brought out a hot cherry pie and asked if we would like to have a slice.
“Set down the pie Lillian,” my dad told her. “I want to teach Cas something.” I grinned and Mom looked suspiciously at Dad before walking back into the house.
“What am I going to learn today?” I asked my father.
“Today, son, you’re going to learn about Pi,” he answered.
“Yes, Pi,” Dad said. I shrugged and watched him pull out his calculator and flexible ruler. “Now Cas, pies are in the shape of a circle, right?”
“Yes,” I replied. That was a stupid question.
“Circles happen to be a very special shape because they involve a number called Pi,” he explained. “Now, take the ruler and wrap it all around the rim. Tell me the number when you are done.” I did as he said and give him the number, which he tapped into his calculator. He gave me another order. “Now, measure how long it is across.” Once again, I did as he said and he tapped at his calculator for a few seconds before showing me the answer. I gazed at the number on the calculator, not knowing what it means.
“What is it?” I asked.
“That, Cas, is approximately 3.14, the number called Pi.” I grinned goofily, liking that there are two different kinds of pie. One’s a number and the other’s a delicious dessert.
“I like pie,” I said, referring to both kinds. My father laughed.
“I thought you would.”
My father’s gone now though. He had a heart attack and now I have no one to share my love of math with. My mom thinks I’m numb and even the math geeks think I’m freaky.
If you say complaints go in circles, I know that’s a lie
They rise like and that’s nothing like Pi.
I don’t like only math. I like physics too, especially the part about Einstein’s theory of relativity. I like picturing myself travelling almost as fast as the speed of light alone in a spaceship. Time dilates at relativistic speeds so I enjoy pondering about what I could get done with all of that time to myself. I am so obsessed with the concept that it occupies my mind all the time. I found the derivatives of the equations for length contraction and time dilation, and I even designed my own spacecraft.
Unfortunately, this Neanderthal spotted me working on my spaceship and started taunting me until I punched him in the nose and told him to back off. Of course, standing up for myself didn’t work out too well since he just knocked me out, giving me a concussion. Right before I blacked out, I heard lyrics from “Across the Universe” by the Beatles play in my head.
“Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box. They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe.”
I couldn’t go as fast as the speed of light if I wanted to. It requires infinite momentum so therefore, it requires infinite energy. The universe has a speed limit, matter has a speed limit, and I have a speed limit. Why can’t I become limitless? All my life people have pushed me down to the ground to limit me because they know I can become limitless. You know what though? Tonight, I’m going to become truly limitless and no one can stop me.
My fingers grip my protractor in one hand and my sharp, pointed compass in the other.
Limits exist on graphs and across the universe,
But they do not exist (DNE) beyond life, which I call a curse.
There are two kinds of people, just like the two types of functions: bounded and unbounded. Bounded functions are restricted to a horizontal band, like sin(x). Unbounded functions, like 2x + 1 are free to do as they please with no horizontal restrictions. Most people are bounded and that includes Julia and me. However, it depends on how they’re bounded that really determines who they are. Julia’s family never bound her, just her friends. Me, I have no friends, just family, science, math, peers, and life. They all limit me. I am done with this twisted world. I grip my metal compass that has been warmed by the heat from my hand and I raise it to my heart…
I can’t do it. I sigh, ashamed by my cowardice and I head out my front door to go for a walk. Maybe the cold night air will help me sort my thoughts out.
I am bound like cos (x) to life by my fear-
That if I die, it won’t be any better than here.
Is there life after death? Everybody asks that philosophical question. Even science can’t explain some things, like where matter came from. Maybe someday science will be able to explain it, but not now. I always thought that religion and God and all of that crap were a way for people to self-deceive into thinking that there is an explanation for everything.
You see, people can’t just accept that there is no explanation at the moment. They have problems, just like I have problems with accepting things the way they are. Sometimes I’ll be working on a math problem for a few hours and the answer will be one. I’d get upset because how could that long and ugly problem be something so simple? It’s just not right. I’d spend even more time trying to prove it otherwise. Maybe I missed a step or something. However, the answer never varied. It would always be one and nothing would ever change it.
The realization has just hit me. Nothing will ever change. I’ll still be awkward, math-loving, Julia-less, and bounded me if I decide not to do this. If I do this, something will change. I don’t care if I go to Hell. Hell can’t be worse than this unchanging universe within a universe I live in.
I am as unchanging as the number one,
So the compass will make sure that some change is done.
Before I die though, I want to see Julia one last time. I walk by her house and peer inside her bedroom window, like I do everyday. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those perverts that look inside girls’ windows to watch them change. I just watch her puzzle over her math homework that I could help her with. Sometimes she dances to music in her pajamas and I can’t help but smile at her. She’s not there though, so she must be out on a date or something. This saddens me. I wanted to see her one last time, but I guess I can’t get even that.
I start to head back home, my mind made up, but I hear a scream behind me. I spin around and look for the source. I find it soon enough. Julia is struggling with this guy around our age. I pause for a second. Should I go try to rescue her? The guy is a lot bigger than I am so I don’t know if I’ll be any help. What does it matter? I think. I’m going to die anyway. I drop the protractor and compass, sprinting over to Julia, who just socked him in the nose. The guy reels back, holding his nose with his hands. That’s my girl. The guy roars, calling her a female dog and charging for her again.
Only, he doesn’t actually get to her since I ram into him, knocking him to the ground. I see his face before my fist smashes into it. He kind of looks like Superman with that curl in his hair that girls find so adorable. Gosh Julia, why did you pick the Superman guy? They’re always full of themselves and think they can get anything they want from women.
I get a few good punches in, but he’s stronger than I am so he practically throws me off of him and I land on the ground. I scramble back up and see that he has pulled out a knife. I look at Julia’s frightened face and then back at the guy with the knife.
“Go away, Mike! Leave before you do something you regret!” Julia berates him, her long, blonde hair all wild and mussed up. She’s still so beautiful.
“Listen to her,” I command. “Go away!” Mike doesn’t listen to us though, he lunges for me and his knife plunges into my heart. A shriek escapes from Julia and Mike just stands there dumbfounded until he finally runs away. I’m back on the asphalt and Julia is by my side, whispering my name and stroking my hair. She pulls out her phone and calls the cops, but I think we both know I’m done for. It’s what I wanted, wasn’t it? Death? I’m not so sure of it now. There’s no turning back though. Life doesn’t count up, it counts down and I’m going to reach zero anytime now.
Seconds go by, a mere unit of time
Until they reach zero, neither composite, nor prime.
A red rose blossoms on my sky-blue shirt. It’s so unsymmetrical that I almost cry. Wait, I think. It has slight rotational symmetry. I feel a little better now. I lay there dying and I’m thinking of shapes and symmetry. There’s translational symmetry, reflection symmetry, scaling, all kinds of symmetry. Geometric shapes flash through my mind, their corners softening until they don’t seem like corners at all.
Julia’s fingers are in my hair and I feel her presence, but I am utterly alone. Death has always been something done by yourself, and I understand that. I look at Julia for the last time before closing my eyes. Tears are running down her face, but she gives me this weak smile, trying to make me feel better. My eyelids droop and soon they close.
Fractals rush by. The whole concept of fractals is based on imaginary numbers. That’s what I liked about it. I could be creative with math, even the numbers have imagination. However, they still had those general rules that kept me from floating into the clouds. I’m falling into one of my favorite fractals right now. It’s shaped like waves crashing into each other, water pouring into the infinite design.
I fall and fall and fall until I’m surrounded by stars and floating across the universe. All of the stars fade away one by one. I watch every last one of them dim, slowly getting me closer to that one color that will tell me if I’m really dead.
I fall through fractals and stars endlessly
As I embrace death shamelessly.