Karina, the Math Wiz: Part Six
Karina was back to her normal studying self, and had been for the past few days. It was now Wednesday evening, and the whole family was testing her with facts for the quiz every moment possible.
“What’s the absolute value of -20 x 81 + 50?” Christine asked as Karina seated herself at the dinner table. The Mynci thought for a moment.
Then she’d work out the problem at the speed of light: “-20 x 81... that’s -1620... plus 50? Uhh... -1570. Absolute value... so just 1570. Am I right?” All the while Graphie would look as if she didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or go insane from how fast her sister could answer.
“Correct. What’s 33% of 300?”
“100 if you mean 33 as in 33.33333, and so on, because that’s one third,” Karina answered back in roughly three seconds.
“What’s the capital of Happy Valley?” Graphie joked.
Karina bit her lip as she closed her eyes and tried to think. “Happy Valley? Umm... well... wait. Graphie, that’s not math! Stop doing that,” she snapped. Graphie had been throwing in lots of trick questions. “Give me another real one.”
Christine shook her head as she served Karina a big plate of spaghetti. “Eat. You’ve studied plenty; you’ll do fine.” The Mynci looked up skeptically, but the smell of dinner persuaded her to take a bite. The family ate their dinner happily, glad that Karina was herself again. Karina was glad to be back, too.
After dinner, Karina sat at the table for a few moments, just thinking about everything. The Math-tath-alon. The redo. Em.
“You alright?” Christine asked, placing a dirty plate on the counter and coming over to the table. Karina didn’t reply. “If this is about the redo...”
“Oh.” She thought for a moment before sitting in the chair next to her Mynci. “This isn’t about that Eyrie who pretended to be your friend, is it?”
Christine sighed. “You don’t know whether to forgive her, apologize to her, or forget her, do you?” Karina nodded silently, still feeling tired and empty. “Talk to her,” Christine said finally, “I’m sure she’ll want to patch things up, too. Just say that it was all a misunderstanding. If you can put the whole affair behind you, you really could be great friends.”
The little red Mynci thought for several seconds. “What if she tries to use me again? What do I do then? I’m not good at this stuff. Sure, I know math and science, and all the school stuff, but I don’t know anything about friendship.”
“Nonsense. If you want a friend, be a friend. And just follow your instincts. If she’s making you do something that you don’t want to do, she’s not your friend. Trust your judgment, Karina.”
“Em?” Karina asked during history. All week, Em had been ignoring her, not even looking her in the eye when she sat down beside her. Karina had figured that her siblings had been right about her; she had just been her friend so that she could cheat off her. But she was still a person, and Karina didn’t like anyone being mad at her. She decided to take Christine’s advice.
But Em just continued taking notes. “I’m sorry about whatever happened, and I’d still like to be friends...” the Mynci continued, though in a whisper so Mr. Gwindle wouldn’t hear.
“I heard you talking to them.”
Karina just stared blankly.
“Your sisters. I heard all you had to say. You think I’m filth, dirt, just trying to be your friend to cheat. I’d never do that to you, Karina. Why do you just believe them, how do you know they weren’t the ones lying? I just wanted to be your friend, a real friend. I didn’t want to cheat, Karina,” Em said softly, but her tone not at all friendly.
Karina stuck out a paw towards Em. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, still not sure whether Em was lying or not. The Eyrie didn’t accept the apology.
“I don’t want to be your friend anymore, Karina. I don’t even want to look at you.” Indeed, Em was now staring at her paper angrily. Her voice had been soft and it sounded like she was holding back tears.
“But what? You judged me. That’s all there is to it.”
Karina still didn’t know what to do. She began taking notes as she tried to ignore Em, but she couldn’t. Her heart felt heavy. “Em...” she said again.
The Eyrie looked up, and for a moment, it almost felt as if she wasn’t angry at Karina. “Call me Emerald, please. I only let my friends call me Em.”
For the first time all week, something other than math was primarily on Karina’s mind: Em. It was lunch time, and she hadn’t told anyone about Em’s reaction. Was Em really just trying to be her friend, or had her sisters been right all along? She sat at a lunch table beside Graphie, thinking in silence.
“Gonna eat that?” the Poogle asked, pointing to the chocolate cookie Karina had in her paws. Karina shook her head and handed it over, not completely conscious of what she was doing. Graphie noticed – and took advantage of – this trance instantly.
“Gonna eat that?” Graphie asked again, this time pointing the remains of Karina’s lunch. Again, the Mynci handed her sister her lunch. Graphie was about to take a bite of Karina’s sandwich, when she stopped. “What’s up? We already went through the whole I’m-going-to-fail routine all week... we don’t need that again.”
Slowly, Karina shook her head. “Something different...?” Graphie asked, sniffing her own lunch and comparing it with her sister’s. Karina now nodded.
She put her face in her paws. “Em...” she croaked softly. “She hates me. Really, really hates me. Graphie, I just tried to make peace with her... but she hates me.” Graphie sighed, patting the Mynci on the back.
“This is all about her?” Graphie paused for moment, shaking her paws in the air. “No, Karina... we’ve been over that before. She was trying to fool you, pull the wool over your eyes, she was using you, for crying out loud! She should be crying to you, not the other way around, for crying out loud.”
Karina knew all this was true. “...But what if we were wrong?” she managed to whisper, before collapsing on the lunch table again. “I just can’t have anyone hating me.”
“Even her?” Graphie said, wrinkling her nose. “She never wanted to be your friend. She’s just not that type of person. She’s the type that you are allowed to hate, since she’ll hate you back anyway. Come on, let’s just find Snow Angel and Cutie.”
Still, Karina wasn’t convinced. “...But what if we were wrong?” she repeated.
“Karina, we’re never wrong.”
“Consider yourselves lucky!” spat Mrs. Yimps, her voice no longer pleasant as it was during class. “I rarely give you two bites at the apple, if you know what I mean. I expect you all to ace my quizzes the first time. But, let’s put that aside. Ahh, Karina, I was expecting you.”
Karina had just arrived for Mrs. Yimps's redo Friday afternoon. Her stomach churned; she wasn’t ready, Em hated her, and the Math-tath-alon would be starting very soon. The day hadn’t gone too well as far as her so-called friend “Emerald”, who still was giving her the cold shoulder. But her siblings had helped her study all through lunch. She was ready for this redo.
“Nothing to be ashamed of, darling. Another one of my star students, Emerald, is redoing it, too. She goofed, just like you.” At those words, Karina immediately looked up. Em was hanging her head, standing right by Mrs. Yimps. She tried to look away, but couldn’t. There had to be some way to save the friendship.
Mrs. Yimps hadn’t notice Em raise her brow at Karina, and had kept on talking. “You will have, quite frankly, as long as it takes you. I don’t plan on going anywhere. So take a deep breath, relax, and for Fyora’s sake, pass!” The teacher scowled.
Karina sat in the nearest desk, and got out a freshly sharpened pencil. Em reluctantly sat in the seat next to her. Or was she sitting down reluctantly? Was she trying to get close enough to cheat off Karina... or was she also trying to be friends?
“Sit, sit,” scoffed Mrs. Yimps, test papers now in hand. She began walking around, ordering students to take a seat. Finally, she began to pass out the tests. When she was done, she returned to the front of the room. “Now...”
“May we start?” Em asked eagerly, not looking at Karina at all.
Mrs. Yimps put up her paw, her eyes fixed on the clock. “Five... four... three... two...” She paused one more second. Karina fixed her eyes on her paper.
“You may begin,” she said in a stern, scratchy voice, as somewhere miles away, someone had just announced the same thing at the Math-tath-alon.
To be continued...