He tapped his pencil against the paper, impatient with the lesson.
“You need to calculate the square root of…” the teacher explained. Brant tuned out the math lesson and stared out the window. Looking at the leaves, he calculated how many leaves would be on a single tree. The variables were endless. How tall was the tree? How big were the leaves? Was it a deciduous or evergreen? What rate did the branches grow?
“Brant! Are you paying attention?” the teacher called out.
Brant turned and looked at the board, the teacher standing in front of a complicated question. “Yes.”
“What’s the answer to number five?” the teacher asked, obviously not believing that his student was understanding the lesson.
Brant’s eyes skimmed the numbers, his mind quickly calculating the information. “It’s four point nine one three.”
The teacher blinked and turned to face the board, obviously working through the problem himself. When he came to the same answer, the teacher nodded in Brant’s direction. “Right. Well…pay attention, okay? We might go over something you missed.”
Brant slid down lower in his chair, looking forward instead of out the window, but he still wasn’t paying attention. He’d already gone through the entire math book and knew the information. But the school didn’t have any math classes higher than this one. He was bored, so he went back to his mental calculations, trying to calculate the number of floor tiles in the entire school. Fifty classrooms on the second floor. Sixty five on first floor, not including the administrative offices. Double the square footage for the choir and band rooms…then there were the hallways and the bathrooms. Twenty-six thousand, eight hundred and sixty…two.
“Class dismissed,” the teacher called out.
“Brant!” one of the girls in class yelled to him.
Brant stopped and waited, because it was Missy. Missy was pretty and fun, with a hilarious sense of humor.
“Brant!” she breathed. “I was hoping you could give me some tips on that math lesson,” she asked, looking up at him with big, blue eyes.
Brant stared at her, wondering why her mascara was all clumpy around her eyes. He suspected that she thought it made her eyes look bigger, but the reality was, it just looked like she had blobs on her lashes. “Uh…”
“Please?” she whispered, leaning forward. “I really could use your help.”
Brant gave in because…well, because he was a gentleman and if Missy really needed help, he’d give her a couple of hours. “Sure. Meet me in the library after school. I’ll help you then,” he told her, then turned and headed to his locker. He had football practice and didn’t have time today. Besides, he knew Missy and she probably understood just fine. But there was no way he would accept an invitation to her house. Not with those lashes!
As he walked to the locker rooms for football practice, his mind calculated the cost of marketing something. Unfortunately, Brant had a data driven mind and he didn’t have enough information. He didn’t know how much materials might cost, or transportation costs, marketing costs might be dependent on those other expenses.
It was all a fascinating exercise, he thought.
She stood in the middle of the kitchen, glaring at her father. “I want to learn more!” she argued.
Petro Lianar stood by the stove, stirring the soup and waving his daughter’s comments away. “You no need to learn more! You know enough.”
Gianna’s hands fisted by her sides. “What’s wrong with going to school in America? People from American come here to Italy all the time to study!”
“Of course they come here to study!” her stubborn father returned. “Italy is a beautiful country! Everyone wants to study in Italy!” He grabbed the loaf of crusty bread from the counter, tearing off a chunk and dipping it into the soup to taste. “You will stay here and learn more here,” he announced.
Gianna rolled her eyes. “Papa, I’m old enough to go to America on my own. I don’t need your permission.”
He spun around, horrified that she would disobey him. “You would leave your papa? You would leave me and go halfway around the world to a place where people don’t respect their elders? Where they don’t say a prayer before every meal? You would go to a place where there are guns and drugs and men who…”
“There are guns and drugs here, Papa,” she argued right back. “If you think that drugs and violence are exclusive to America, then tell me how the mafia started in Sicily?”
He dismissed that argument because it didn’t support his statement. “Pah!” he threw his hands in the air. “You will stay.”
“I will go. I want to learn. Americans are very business savvy, Papa. You know that I want to own my own business papa. Just a small boutique. I want to learn and understand how Americans work.”
He shook his head and placed a hunk of bread near her, silently ordering her to try his soup. “You will stay here and have babies. Just like your sisters.”
Gianna laughed. But she also picked up the bread, walking over to the stove. Dunking the bread into the soup, she paused to kiss her father’s rough cheek. “My flight leaves in four days, Papa. I already have a job. The man you know in Denver, Colorado contacted me. I interviewed two months ago when I visited Denver. I’m going to work for a very large, very important company.” She tasted the soup and nodded. “This is delicious.”
“Of course it is good. I made it! I don’t put too much basil in it like your Mama does. My soup is always better.”
Gianna’s eyes widened. “Don’t let Mama hear you say things like that. She’ll…”
“I’ll what?” Angela asked, stepping into the kitchen. “Did you tell your papa?”
“Tell me what?” Petro asked. “Come try the soup.”
Angela walked over and kissed her husband’s cheek before taking some bread to taste the contents of the pot. Nodding with approval, she said, “It needs more basil.” Then she turned to her daughter. “You told him then.”
“I told him, but he won’t accept that I’m going.” Gianna sighed, shaking her head. “He thinks I should stay home and have babies.”
Angela turned to her husband, an angry glare in her eyes. “My Gianna will have babies, but when she is ready, you buffoon!” she told her husband. “You will no tell my baby girl when she should and shouldn’t have babies!”
Petro threw his hands into the air, his stubborn personality rising up. “But she would be happier here!”
“Says you!” Angela snapped. “You are not our Gianna! Our little girl needs adventure! She needs to spread her wings before she makes her nest and settles down. You cannot push this, Petro!”
“Fine!” he snapped, throwing his hands in the air. “But she no need to go to America! She stay here!”
Gianna had had enough. “She,” Gianna burst out, using her name since both of her parents were talking about her as if she weren’t here, “will go to America and come back home when she is ready. And not a moment before.”
With that, Gianna turned and walked out the door, furious with her father for thinking that he knew what was best for everyone. Babies! Right. As if she were ready for babies! Yes, in the future. But not yet. Not now. First of all, there were too many things she wanted to do before she started the adventure of parenting. Like take a ride in a hot air balloon in New Mexico! Or climb the Rocky Mountains! Gianna wanted to see the shows in New York City and then walk through Antelope Canyon in Arizona. She wanted to see the towering redwoods in California and so many more things! And she wanted to learn the American way of doing business! That was her goal!
After all of that, then she’d marry a handsome man and have babies. In that order. With a sigh of satisfaction, she tossed several more shoes into her suitcase. It was going to be a fabulous adventure, she told herself.