Today's word from the random word generator is: gibberish
And so, without further ado....
What Leibniz Never Learned
by Karen Fayeth
Anton dropped his head into his hands with a deep sigh, allowing frustration to wash over him.
He had so many things to say, deep, powerful, urgent emotions, and all he could squeeze out onto the pages of his spiral notebook were gibberish lines and jumbled words.
If only it were as easy as the calculus he loved so much. Figuring derivatives of complex equations happened with ease and grace.
Math made sense. Feelings did not.
He turned to a clean page and wrote down a problem, crafting the most difficult math he could think of and then solved the equation without breaking a sweat.
Math = Easy. Clean. Pure.
Words. They sucked. They could be misinterpreted and used against you. Fumble over the wrong words and people laugh, they make fun, they misunderstand who you are at your core.
Words were squishy like jell-o. Numbers were clean and simple and rarely misinterpreted.
Anton sighed again. Be that as it may, words were what he needed to use right now. No calculations could explain how he felt about Lisa.
She was his graduate teaching assistant for his hatefully required English Lit class. She was a lady who liked words.
It was Lisa's hand that wrote the red ink C minus grades on every one of his papers.
She also left comments like, "Where is the heart of Anton in this story?" and "It's ok to use adjectives."
Anton would never have believed that he could love a girl who was anything other than a math or engineering major. Maybe even a physics major, but that was pushing it.
And yet here was this raven-haired beauty, with eyes the color of periwinkles and a smile as bright as the North Star.
"Hey, that's not bad," he thought, then scribbled down "North Star and periwinkles" next to the first derivative and just before the next.
For inspiration, Anton dug into his desk drawer and withdrew the file labeled "Creative Writing." He fished out the paper that had netted him the worst grade and stared at her writing.
He sniffed the page, hoping to capture a momentary whiff of her smell, a mixture of rose oil and chamomile.
Hmm, he thought, and then scribbled down, "roses and chamomile"...that might be something.
She was right, his heart wasn't in his words. He wrote assignment papers in the last minute before class, fulfilling only the word count requirements (a number!) and caring less about things like sentence structure and meaning.
Anton ran his finger over the lines of the words she wrote, examining each letter with a scientific eye, measuring their weight and calculating the angles of the swoops in her pen stroke.
Lost in moony love thoughts, he was snapped back to reality by the thunderous return of Lars.
"Oy! Anton!" shouted his Australian rugby playing couldn't-be-any-more-different-from-me roommate who filled the corners of their dorm room with beer, cigarettes and cheap cologne.
"Hey Lars," Anton replied in a quiet voice, hoping his roommate would follow suit.
"Lend me a twenty, mate, I need beer!" Lars shouted.
Lars always borrowed money and never paid Anton back. He should tell him no. But if he did, Lars would only hang around the dorm room blowing unkind sounds from his tourist version of a didgeridoo.
If peace could be bought for the price of twenty dollars, maybe the math worked out in Anton's favor.
He sighed again and pulled his RFID blocking wallet from his back pocket.
"Here," Anton said, thrusting the note at Lars, "Go drink somewhere else, I have work to do."
"Oooh, someone's knickers are in a knot!" Lars taunted, then swiped the twenty from Anton's hand, scampering out the door. In as much as a 280 pound rugby player could scamper.
Anton turned back to his desk and looked down at his notebook.
The blank page stared back.
Anton closed his eyes. "Feelings," he thought to himself. "What am I feeling?"
"Mad. Goddamn Lars!"
"Ok, no. Not that feeling," his mind replied, sternly.
So he thought about Lisa. He thought about that day she wore a sundress with small yellow flowers with bare legs. He could see her feet in the tiny sandals she wore.
Anton had a thing for girl's feet. It was not something he mentioned to his friends, obviously.
Ok, the mental image was working. He was feeling something akin to a feeling.
"Yeah, that's the stuff," his brain encouraged.
He let his mind wander to fantasies of Lisa holding his hand as they walked together to the math building.
He thought about how all those other math nerds would lose their shit when they saw him with a girl.
Oh yeah, this felt good.
"Now!" said his mind, "Write! Write your heart!"
Anton scribbled furiously on the paper, opening the floodgates and letting the words fly with the fleet winged feet of Mercury the Messenger.
Oh sweet release of all that was pent up inside!
He quickly tore the page from his notebook, folded it roughly and stuffed it into his jeans pocket. He ran from his room to the admin office in the English building.
He found her name on the wall of mailboxes and carefully placed the note inside, heart racing out of his chest and into his throat.
Spent, he returned to his dorm room to wait.
The next day, Lisa noticed something in her mailbox. Usually it was empty, but a few Luddite professors still refused to use email.
She smoothed open the folded piece of notebook paper and read:
Uh, hey. I noticed that you smell really nice and I think you have, like, really pretty feet, too.
So I was thinking, maybe you and I could go get a coffee or something?
Yeah, so, talk to you later."
The note was left unsigned.
Shaking her head, Lisa deposited the piece of paper in the trash.
It wasn’t the first stalker-y note she'd ever received, only the latest.
"What Leibniz Never Learned" by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.