The New Math

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By Iris N. Schwartz

Ninth-grade math: effortless? Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division: common sense. English, history, social studies, science: a breeze. Four breezes.

Algebra: tangle of numbers, letters, punctuation. Chalk hieroglyphs commandeering blackboard. Trap set not with cheddar but equations. Waste of Carly’s (otherwise) nimble mind.

Unless Carly “guilted” her parents into hiring tutors. Cheated. (She could write on: her palms; her sneakers’ soles; paper folded accordion-like, hidden up sleeves.) Stole copies of previous tests. Popped classmate Shelley on the head, grabbed her notes while she was unconscious.

Carly required A’s. Had a reputation. Needed Valedictorian status, multiple Harvard degrees. By any computation necessary.

Iris N. Schwartz is a fiction and nonfiction writer, as well as a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Her work has appeared in such journals as 101 Words, Algebra of Owls, Bindweed Magazine, The Flash Fiction Press, Guttural Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Jellyfish Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Pure Slush, The Tribe Journal, Use Your Words, and The Wild Word. Her first short-short story collection, My Secret Life with Chris Noth: And Other Stories, will be published by Poets Wear Prada in autumn 2017.

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