Stories from the Past: I Probability Like You


Let's have fun on this TGIF! A new short story for your enjoyment! Some of this is true and some of it has been embellished and some of it is definitely not true. The sentiment is all there, though. Have fun figuring it out!  :)

I Probability Like You
“Why do you keep talking about him?  Do you like him or something?” my desk partner Stan teased me.
My heart took a parabolic plunge to the floor.  Did he have to say it so loudly?  So jokingly?  Right there, in the middle of math class?  Couldn’t he have waited five minutes, like until after the bell rang? Couldn’t he have waited until after the person in question, sitting a mere two rows behind us, had shouldered his backpack and left the room?
I tried to keep my facial ticks in check.  I opened my mouth twice in attempt to answer the question.  I could only manage a croak. “What?”
Stan repeated himself.  “Do you like Matt or something?”
Great, he just said my crush's name for everyone to hear.  I wanted to hide under my desk like a radicand under the roof of a square root symbol.  My palms were sweating. 
If he wasn’t listening before, Matt was certainly listening now. 
I toyed with the pages of my math book.  I shuffled my homework over the desk.  My legs twitched, and I could barely keep my feet rooted to the carpet.  I could feel Matt’s eyes boring into back of my skull.  Was he waiting for my reply like Stan was?
I squinted at Stan. “What did you say?”
“Oh, my god” Stan set his No.2 pencil down and leaned against the plastic back of his chair.  “You like him!  You totally do!”
Pinching my mouth shut, I begged him to stop talking with only my eyes.  I held them open so long, tears started forming at the edges.
Stan laughed and pounded his desk.  His huge guffaws silenced the entire class.
Great.  Now, everyone was staring at me.  I was a floating point outside of the curve, a red dot alone on the graph.  Did everybody know now?
I darted a glance behind me and locked eyes with Matt. 
In that second, I knew he knew.  In that second, I knew he was figuring out when I stopped labeling him as a friend and began thinking of him as a crush.  In that second, I knew our friendship would never be the same again.
I covered my blushing face.  How did I get to this unbearable, embarrassing moment?
I started my freshman year with a new look—my parents bought me contact lenses—and a new outlook—high school was a place for my social life to begin.  I was determined to shed my shy demeanor and make friends.
I auditioned for the school play.  I joined several clubs.  I approached three girls gossiping in the library before school one day and stumbled into their clique—albeit a book-club clique, but it was mine all the same.  So far so good.
When I met Matt, it was January.  Because I wanted to try out for the tennis team in the Spring, my first and second semester schedules were not the same, and I was transferred into Mr. Moskowitz’s ninth-grade algebra class.   Matt was my desk partner, since his last name was alphabetically next to mine.
At first, he only talked to me to explain Mr. Moskowitz’s picky rules: headers on homework was always Name, Date, Class, Assignment; he hated when students wrote on the back of paper; if paper didn’t have three-ring binder holes, students were required to punch them; no restroom breaks, period.
Then, Matt took to pointing out students in the class.  Since I was the only transfer, all of the students knew each other already.  He explained that Sally in the back of the room secretly chewed gum, a substance banned by Mr. Moskowitz.  Charles, who sat right behind us, his real name was Lindsay.  Lindsy, the tall girl with doe eyes, was super smart.  And Stan was the class clown.
After the first test of the semester, Matt realized that I was just as smart as Lindsy.  He took advantage of it, but I didn’t mind.
It was like someone put the factorial exclamation point behind my formula.  My social life exploded.  I suddenly had someone to call on the phone.  I suddenly had someone to pass notes to.  I suddenly had a close guy friend; I’d never had one before.
Somewhere between chatting in math class and waving good-bye as we waited for our separate school buses, I began to think about him all the time. 
Would Matt call tonight for help on the linear equations worksheet?  What should I ask him if he came by my locker at lunch?  He looked particularly cute in that maroon t-shirt with the stripes. 
I wanted him to be my Gilbert Blythe, my Todd Spencer, my Logan Bruno, my Patrick Long, my Ned Nickerson!
After Mr. Moscowitz switched up his seating chart at the end of the quarter, I was seated next to Stan, and Matt was two rows behind.  I was only concerned that Matt would be staring at the back of my head for the entire 45 minutes of algebra. Would he think I was pretty if I wore my hair in a braid?  A bun?  A new scrunchie?
It had already been two months of hard crushing and I’d managed to keep it a secret—except from my clique of book-club nerds in the library.  I labeled my crush as an imaginary feeling that never needed to be acted upon.
But, just like imaginary numbers are not really imaginary, imaginary feelings cannot be kept hidden forever.  It took Stan to expose my secret.
The bell rang.
Matt rushed out of the classroom first.  A couple of guys whistled catcalls after him.
I glared at Stan, slamming my silver mechanical pencil onto my textbook with a slap.  “Why did you say that?  Why did you say that here in front of Matt?”
Stan shrugged and packed his things. 
I stood to my full 61 inches. 
He scurried off like a fraction with a gigantic denominator.
As I stuffed my book and notes into my backpack, I couldn’t figure out what to do about Matt.  Was it okay to stop by his locker now that he knew that I “liked him liked him”?  Was he still my friend?
At the end of the day, he still wasn’t talking to me, but he did wave at me from the line at the bus stop.
And then, he called that night. 
I smiled when I heard the voice on the other end of the telephone.  I curled the cord around my fingers and haltingly said, “I’m sorry about today.”
He said, “The probability that I like you back is increasing.”

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