Infinity + One

Infinity + One by Amy Harmon

Book: Infinity + One by Amy Harmon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amy Harmon
see and the ones you can’t. The real and the imaginary, the rational and the irrational, and every point on lines that go on forever. Numbers have never let me down. They don’t waffle. They don’t lie. They don’t pretend to be what they’re not. They’re timeless.”
    “You’re smart then . . . aren’t you, Finn?” I heard the awe in my own voice. It wasn’t a question. I had never been school smart, and marveled at those who were. “I thought you were. I was never any good with numbers. Math has always been like a murky pond, and me, a hillbilly stabbing at the fish with a pokey stick, trying to get lucky.”
    “That doesn’t make any sense, Bonnie.” Finn laughed softly.
    “That’s my point, Clyde.”
    “You’re your own kind of smart.” I loved the way he said the word “smart.”
    “Smat,” I mimicked softly, and he pinched my side in response but continued his argument.
    “Music doesn’t make any sense to me. I couldn’t pull a pitch out of the air the way you do no matter how hard I studied, no matter how many theorems I proved. Some are born with an ear. I was born with a calculator.”
    “Does it come that easy for you? Like music does for me?” I marveled at the idea. “I’ve never had to work at it . . . or maybe it’s just that it never felt like work to me. The music was just always there, easy for me to hear, easy for me to re-create. I can’t imagine math being like that.”
    “When we were little my dad would ask me and my brother to tell him about numbers. He would say, ‘Tell me about the number one.’ Fisher wasn’t interested, but I was. I would tell my dad everything I knew from my limited perspective. I would point to myself and say ‘one.’ I would point to Fish and say ‘one.’ And he would say, ‘Ah, but Finn, together you are two, aren’t you?’ And I would say, ‘No. One Finn. One Fish.’ As if we were the same—two halves of a whole.
    “As I got older my dad would demand more. And I would recite everything he’d taught me, everything I’d learned. ‘Tell me about number four, Finn,’ he’d say. And I’d respond with something like ‘the first composite number, the second square, and the first square of a prime.’ Not difficult stuff, but more difficult than the ‘one Finn, one Fish’ stuff of my three-year-old answers.”
    “That’s not difficult stuff?” I asked, and I could see my breath puff out from my lips as the temperature in the Blazer continued to fall.
    “No. By the time I was in my mid-teens, my answers included things like Fermat’s last theorem, or Euler’s assertion, or Goldbach’s conjecture.”
    “Holy crap! You won’t feel bad if I don’t ask you to explain what any of that means, will you?”
    “No.” Finn laughed, creating a heavy white plume above my head that dissipated immediately. “Math is lonely in that way. Isolating. It’s the reason my parents split. My mom always felt excluded. She said my dad would go off into his own little world. Then he started taking me with him, and it was the final straw.
    “My dad got offered a position at a college in another state, and my mom said she wasn’t leaving. They gave me and my brother a choice about where we wanted to go. But I was almost seventeen—I’d spent my whole life in Boston. I had friends and I played ball, and deep down, I didn’t want to leave Fisher or my mother, even though I blamed her for the fact that my dad was leaving us. I should have gone, though. Looking back, I should have gone. Because in the end, I left my mother anyway.” Finn stopped short and changed the subject. “You asked me what I believe in. What do you believe in?” I sensed his discomfort, talking about his family, and decided to let him pass the stick this once.
    “I believe in music. I guess music is for me what numbers are for you. There’s power in music. There’s healing in it. God is there in it too, if you let him be. Growing up, in Grassley, everybody was so

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