Parenthesis

February 22, 2017
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When the world turns it's back on you (which it inevitably will) what will you have left?  When my hopes and dreams were crushed, all I had to present the world with was a single, unclosed, parenthesis.

I’ve always been considered smart. It only made sense for me to be like the smart ones, with the smart ones.  I was expected to take every chance to compete academically. The moment I let one of these chances go to waste, I’m eliminated from their minds as a smart person. (The whole thing was just a charade so that our parents could judge each other by their children’s intelligence.) (We judged each other too.) (That’s  how humanity is.)

Despite how sad it seemed, competing could be fun. For me, Academic Games was both something I wanted to do and something that aligned with my duties as a child of a judgmental society.

It was the ephemeral spring of my seventh grade year, and even though I had spent four years playing, I was still excited at the prospect of winning.

I breezed through all the competitions. It all seemed so easy to me and I figured this could be my year. (The other years clearly weren’t.) And if I did well, life would be so much better. I’d always have the shield of that achievement.

We would be playing Equations- a good game for me. I could go in with limited knowledge and come out victorious (as long as my brain was clear). I just needed to win.

The announcer strided onto the stage, directing us to begin. I felt as if I had the ability to slice something by simply thinking about it. The noise of the room was muted and all I could hear were the dice, rolled by my opponent. They clattered loudly against the table and my opponent’s eyes flashed. His job was to set out on a path that he understood while mine was to predict his moves and try my best to catch up.

We tied that first game, but there was nothing to worry about. My opponent handed me the cubes and I cupped them in my hands, looking up to say thanks. His face and words were a blur, as if we were underwater. The only things that were clear were the gold number and operations on the faded dice.

The cubes cascaded out of my hands, clattering against the wooden table. My time was ticking down as my opponent counted down from ten. What number was he on? What do I do?

i couldn’t think

i couldn’t think

i couldn’t think

someone help me please

“This is your five minute warning. Do not start another game.”

My hands shook as I tried in vain to formulate a solution. How many seconds have passed again?

“This is your two minute warning. Do not move another cube. All correct solutions get a 4, all incorrect solutions get a 2.”

Two minutes left. Two minutes left and I couldn’t think. Someone, anyone, please.  The sand fell to the bottom of the timer, counting down to my impending doom.

Then it clicked. The puzzle pieces in my head sorted themselves out. I had a solution. Eagerly writing, I almost laughed with glee. I finished and drew a smooth circle around my solution.

(10!÷5!*(3!)=6!*6

The last of the sand dropped to the bottom.

We presented our solutions to each other and I cockily checked the other person’s.

I spoke first, “I accept.”

My opponent followed up with a single line.

“I don’t accept.”

He grabbed his sheet back and rewrote my solution, closing a parenthesis and changing the value.

(10!÷5)!*(3!)=6!*6

My pencil fell to floor as my opponent tallied up the score.

I lost.

I can’t believe I lost.

All because I couldn’t think, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t think.

I had nothing left.

When the world turns it's back on you (which it inevitably will) what will you have left?  When my hopes and dreams were crushed, all I had to present the world with was a single, unclosed, parenthesis.






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