Math class. Janine sighed miserably and doodled on her paper so that she looked like she was hard at work. She hated math. Why couldn’t Jayden take her math classes for her? They were triplets, for goodness sake! What was the benefit of being one of three almost identical girls if the math oriented one couldn’t sit in on the tedious, horrible, mind-numbing math class for her? They could easily switch places. Janine knew that Jayden had English class right now. She would probably be happy to change places with her.
The teacher droned on and on about As and Bs…or maybe it was Xs and Ys. Did it really matter? What was the point? Couldn’t they go back to fractions or percentages? She kind of got those concepts. But trying to figure out when a train going fifty-five miles per hour on a train track was going to run into another train going sixty miles per hour from the opposite direction was pointless. In her mind, she reasoned that someone was sitting in a control room and would stop one of the trains before they crashed into each other. Made sense to her!
She had home economics next. And even that class wasn’t all that fascinating. She’d thought it would be perfect for her, since they got to cook. She really enjoyed cooking. The idea of mixing spices and herbs to make something delicious was a fascinating idea to her. She loved to experiment in her mother’s kitchen. Well, when Jasmine wasn’t doing the same thing. She’d have to get home faster than Jaz this afternoon. Her mother only allowed one of them to cook at a time and Jaz was starting to get a bit crazy with her baking lately. Really, why did her sister need to make yet another cake? They could only eat one cake at a time. Her mother was starting to take Jasmine’s baked goods down to the fire station for the fire fighters lately, just so that there wasn’t all that sweet stuff in the house all the time.
At least when Janine cooked, they could eat the results. Well, most of the time, she thought with a cringe. That turkey the other day hadn’t turned out exactly right. She wasn’t exactly sure why it turned out so black on one side and almost raw on the other. Maybe if she…
“Ms. Hart?” the teacher called out.
Janine jerked upright in her seat. “Yes?” she responded, praying that he hadn’t asked her a real question.
Mr. Matthews raised his eyebrows at her response and Janine instantly knew that he’d already asked her a question that required more than a yes or no answer. “Could you work out problem number thirteen from the homework on the board?” he asked. It was obviously the second time he’d made the request.
Janine swallowed and looked down at her paper. She had no idea if her answers were correct or not. Jayden had offered to look at her math homework last night, but Janine had shoved the work into her notebook, promising that it was correct. Now, she wished she’d taken her sister up on the offer.
Good grief, she hated writing out her answers on the board. It was such a nightmare! She was always the last one to finish and she looked stupid trying to figure out how to multiply all the numbers correctly. Why couldn’t she be more math oriented? Why couldn’t math just make sense?!
She walked up to the board, her feet almost sliding along the tile floors in an effort to delay the inevitable. She looked at her paper, then at the blank space on the board and reluctantly picked up the chalk. Ick! Chalk was gross! The feeling of chalk on her fingers make her skin crawl!
She took a deep breath, then started writing out her answer. She just put the numbers up on the board that she had on her paper, not even bothering to work through the problem in her mind once again. When she was finished, she turned around and hurried back to her seat. Yep, last one finished. Again!
Janine had no idea if her answer was correct. She crossed her fingers. Then, for good measure, she crossed her legs and, because she was so tired of being wrong, she crossed her toes inside of her shoes.
The teacher went through each students’ answers one by one. When he reached Janine’s problem, he hesitated and Janine’s whole body deflated. What was the point of crossing one’s fingers if it didn’t work? For crying out loud, this luck thing still had yet to kick in, she thought.
As the teacher spent the next few moments explaining what Janine had done wrong on her problem, Janine slid lower in her chair. Mentally, she escaped from the cruel, heartless world of math by thinking up ideas on what she was going to cook for dinner. And contemplating growing her own herb garden so that she could always have fresh ingredients.
When the bell finally rang for the end of the period, Janine breathed a sigh of relief and hurried out of the classroom, keeping her head down so that the teacher didn’t call her back and ask to see the rest of her homework. There was no telling how many other problems she’d gotten wrong last night and she really didn’t want to have to redo them tonight. She was looking forward to her culinary experiments instead!
Micah’s mother smacked a plate of food down in front of him. He stared down at the brown pile of possibly inedible fare. “Here, eat this for dinner tonight. Your father won’t be coming home, so don’t wait up for him.”
Micah looked down at the bean stew in front of him and almost gagged. He hated beans. They had beans several times a week, but he supposed it was better than…he wasn’t sure what it was that his mother had served last night. Mystery meat was the best thing he could call it and even that might be an insult to “meat”. He was only sure about the “mystery” part.
“What is dad up to?” he asked and instantly regretted his question.
“He’s being an idiot probably,” his mother stated with a grunt of disgust as she wiped her hands on the torn, stained apron. And for the next ten minutes, she complained about how stupid, lazy and disgusting Micah’s father was.
Micah shoveled the food into his mouth as quickly as he could. When he was done, he picked up his plate and washed it in the sink, setting it on the drainer. “Gotta go, Mom,” he said and hurried out the door. He actually didn’t have any place he really needed to be. But he hated sitting in that tiny, two bedroom apartment. His mother was always angry about how life had treated her and his father, when he came home, would do or say anything he could to provoke her temper even more. The two of them were miserable, but they couldn’t afford to divorce, so they worked hard to make the other one more miserable.
A part of him suspected that they actually preferred living and hating each other rather than separating. They seemed to almost take joy in causing the other to be miserable. It was a sick sort of relationship, but if it worked for them, he wasn’t going to judge.
He swore to himself that he would never marry. In his mind, marriage was the equivalent to entering into hell. There was no escape and every moment was used to torture one’s spouse.
No, he preferred just enjoying the company of the ladies. There were so many girls in school and each one fascinated him. They were all so lovely – he wasn’t sure which kind of a girl he liked the best. Probably the blondes, he thought, thinking of Sasha’s soft smile and the way she liked to kiss him after school by the gymnasium door. Or maybe it was the brunettes, like Lidia. Yes, Lidia was very nice and equally soft, but she was the touchy-feely kind. So maybe he preferred the other ones, the kind that let him do the touching.
He headed to the library and found a shelf of books that he hadn’t explored yet. Besides studying and experiencing members of the female population, his favorite pastime was reading books and learning everything he could about the world. Lifting up a random book, he found a chair to relax in and started reading. For the next several hours, he read whatever he could put his hands on. One book after another, he skimmed through the words, speed reading the ideas and absorbing all of the possibilities. He loved reading, uncovering information. His mind was quick and, as he read through the fascinating texts, he thought of several ways he could use that information. He was going to get out of this village, he promised himself. He was going to get out and he was going to do things that other people only dreamed about doing. And he was never, ever going to marry!