I stared blankly at the chicken-scratch my math teacher was writing on the board, blinking and furrowing my brows in confusion. Why the heck were there so many variables in just one problem?! And where did that “5” come from?! Was she trying to give me a headache?
I looked down at my notes, which took up almost two full pages, and tried to figure out how to work the example problems. I examined the dang things but only succeeded in confusing myself even more. I was just about to raise my hand when the lunch bell rang. My teacher had lunch duty, so she quickly hauled out of the room with her Lean Cuisine.
I sighed and gathered my things together, my mind still attempting to solve the equations I had written down. I was in such a hurry to get out of the classroom that I bumped into someone, causing me to drop my books and him to drop his bag.
“Ah, sorry!” I said, keeping my head down.
“No,” he said. “It’s alright.” He bent down and began to pick up my books.
“Oh, no, that’s okay,” I said as I knelt down beside him. “I can get them.”
He chuckled, and I looked up to see who it was. Eduard von Bock. The smartest boy in the class. In the whole school. I had spoken to him and seen him in the hall a few times. He was supposed to be really nice. He seemed to be so far.
“Here.” He handed me my books. “What’s your name?”
“_-_____,” I muttered. “I sit over there.” I pointed to my desk on the far end.
He nodded and smiled. “I’m Eduard.” He held out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Slowly, I lifted my hand to meet his, managing a half-smile as we shook. “N-Nice to meet you, too. . .”
He took up his bag and stood up. “So, _____, where do you usually go for lunch?”
I lowered my head slightly. “Um, the library.”
Eduard blinked. “Really? So do I.”
I know, I thought.
“How come we haven’t seen each other there?”
I clutched my books tighter. “Um. . .well, I usually just sit in the back and read the whole time. . .”
“Well,” he said, “would you like to sit with me during lunch?”
I felt my face heat up. “R-Really?”
He smiled. “Of course. Come on.” He started out the door, and I followed.
“_____, you don’t have a lunch?”
I kept my face downcast as Eduard looked at me. “U-Um, no. I don’t eat lunch. I don’t really like eating in front of people. . .”
He nodded. “Oh. Okay.”
I glanced at my math book on the table. “Hey, Eduard?”
Um. . .If you wouldn’t mind. . .could you please, um, help me with my math. . . ?”
“You’re having trouble?”
I nodded. “All the problems look like Swahili to me. And I can never really understand the teacher’s explanations. . .”
He smiled, letting out a sweet sigh. “Of course.” He scooted his chair closer to mine, causing my face to heat up. “May I see what problems you’re having trouble with?”
I reached for my math book and opened it to the page describing how to solve equations with imaginary numbers. I also pulled out the notes I had been taking, which had my many failed attempts at solving the problems written on them.
“Ah,” started Eduard after looking at my notes for a moment. “Here’s the problem. You didn’t change the 'i-squared' to 'negative one'.”
I tilted my head, actually looking up at him with a confused expression.
“Whenever there is an ‘i-squared', it converts into a 'negative one',” he explained.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Those are just the rules.”
I looked down at my math book and sighed. “Math is so confusing. . .”
Eduard chuckled. “Don’t worry. You’ll get it.” He patted my head, and I felt so tiny under his hand.
Two months later, I had improved significantly in math, and it was all thanks to Eduard. We had grown to be good friends, but I was afraid of my own feelings for him. You see, somewhere along the way, I started liking him. Not the like I had had for him when he first started tutoring me. I didn’t like him. I liked him. And I really wanted to tell him how I felt.
But there was a problem.
Eduard had been avoiding me for almost two weeks. At first, he would only talk to me during our tutoring sessions. But now, he won’t even tutor me anymore. I started to worry and wonder if it was something I did. Then one day at lunch, I spotted him in the library. He was seated at the table where we usually sat, and his head was down with his hand covering his mouth. I noticed a piece of paper on the table in front of him, his other hand on top of it.
“Eduard?” I said.
He jumped at the sound of his name and looked up. A bright shade of pink colored his cheeks.
I wanted to ask if he was sick, but decided to just get to the point. “Why. . .Why have you been avoiding me?”
Very shakily, he stood up and handed me the paper. “I, um, have a problem for you to solve, _____. . .” With that, he walked out of the library.
I blinked, bewildered, turning in the direction he had gone. “What. . . ?” I looked down at the paper in my hand, and unfolded it. It was a math problem.
9x - 7i > 3(3x - 7u).
On the top of the paper was written neatly, “Solve for ‘i’”. I blinked, then sighed and sat down. I grabbed a pencil and began working on the problem.
“Alright, let’s see,” I muttered to myself. “Three times three is nine, and three times seven is twenty-one. . .Subtract the nine, and that makes zero. . .Negative twenty-one divided by negative seven is positive three. . .And switch around the greater-than-less-than sign. . .”
“There.” I examined my work, feeling a bit proud of myself. “‘I’ is less than three times ‘u’.” I then tilted my head in confusion. “Why would Eduard just make me solve one problem and then just walk awa––”
Then I saw it. My eyes widened, and my face became hot. I covered my mouth to stifle a gasp, and I dashed out of the library, leaving all my things there. I ran down the hallway for a few minutes before I finally saw him. “Eduard!”
Eduard stiffened, standing transfixed with his back to me. Slowly, he turned to look at me, the blush still covering his face.
I stepped toward him, panting from all the running I had done. I held up the paper. “I-I. . .I solved the problem. . .”
He nodded. “Good. . .”
I bit my lip. “D-Do you. . .Do you really. . .”
He pursed his lips together for a moment, then nodded slowly. “Yes, _____. . .I like you. And. . .I’ve liked you ever since I met you. . .”
I stood staring at him, speechless. My heart was lodged in my throat, and my eyes were very close to tearing up. So, not knowing what to do, I reached out and wrapped my arms around his waist, clutching him tightly. He froze for a second, but then returned the embrace. “Ma armastan sind, _____,” he whispered into my hair.
I smiled. “I love you, too, Eduard.”
He smiled back and lifted my chin with his index finger. He slowly lowered his head, and his lips gently met mine. My eyes opened wide, and I’m pretty sure I had a huge blush on my face, but soon I relaxed and kissed him back.
Now, you’re probably wondering what caused that whole romantic tidbit. I’ll tell you: It was the answer to the math problem he gave me.
i < 3u