By Betty Adams
The University student proceeded cautiously through the jungle of calculations on the paper in front of her. There was a raw natural beauty in higher math that appealed to the biology student but it was wise to be careful. One never knew when a fractal would descend out of the logic tree above. She prepared to maneuver around a particularly dense thicket of derivation when something on her leg started vibrating vigorously.
“Get it off. Get it off!” she yelped as she scrambled to her feet. Her ear buds yanked her head down and her laptop up and her knee slammed into the underside of the table to make thick text books jump for its full length.
It was heartening to know that even this deep in the calculus jungle her fellow travelers could still laugh that hard she mused and she frantically dug down past layers of gum wrappers, car keys, pass cards, and loose change for what she was now fairly certain was her cell phone on vibrate. She forced her brain away from the exploration and swam up through several layers of reality before she hit the answer button.
“Hello?” She asked cautiously.
“Hey Sweetie!” a cheerful voice called out on the other end. “Guess what day Sunday is!”
A mix of affection and irritation met the interruption and the woman cast a sideways glance at the wall clock. More time had passed in the calculus jungle than she had estimated. She was well out of study time into ‘free’ time. That settled her brain set to work trying to answer the question. Sunday meant it wasn’t a work issue. It was over half a year till her birthday, slightly less to his. No siblings or parents had anything important going on either. She didn’t think they had anything planned. Oh no, was it their anniversary? Her pulse raced a bit. It was bad to forget that sort of stuff, right? Let’s see, they started dating in late fall and the trees out side said early spring so it couldn’t be that.
“Sweetie?” the voice on the other end prompted.
“Sunday…” she muttered in response. “Sunday.”
“Sunday, February the fourteenth?” He offered with a hint of mischief in his tone.
No, no, that really wasn’t their anniversary. Dangit! They must have planned something. She reached over to dig her schedule out of her back pack. What was it? A longsuffering sigh came over the line.
“Valentine’s Day Sweetie,” he explained patiently.
“Oh. Oh!” She blinked in confusion as her brain reset. “Right, did we have plans?”
“No. Not yet.” He answered to a rush of relief. “I was thinking of asking you to dinner at our favorite restaurant.”
“That won’t work. They burned down two days after we ate there last,” she informed him.
“Right, the grease fire. How about that romantic place on the coast highway?” he countered.
“There was that mudslide three days after we ate there last,” she answered. “The building is still standing but it took out all their power and plumbing. Hey, what about that place on the beach where we always get the tacos?”
“No, “ he said with a groan. “There was an incident.”
“Oh right. They are still closed down from that freak accident with the Fukushima driftwood the day after we ate there,” she replied as she sat down at her computer again and gingerly reset one ear bud.
“Okay, how about a nice picnic at our local park,” he was starting to sound a little aggravated.
“Remember that squirrel that attacked the ranger right as we were driving out?” she asked.
“Yeah, never knew old Fred could dance like that,” he replied with a laugh, “or scream in that register.”
“Well it was infected with some crazy disease,” she informed him. “They had to bring it to the University for testing and my professors tell me they have no idea what it is or where it came from so the park is quarantined until they get to the bottom of it. Maybe we could just get some strawberry ice cream and hang out on the swings at my old school playground?”
“A great idea,” he admitted, “but the restraining order won’t expire for another two months.”
“Right,” she muttered. “Really, you’d think that an institution of learning would be more understanding about the educational benefits of a little rocketry experimentation. It’s not like that third grader really needed medical attention when all was said and done.”
“So, takeout?” he finally conceded with a sigh.
“My place or yours?” she asked.
“Yours has a better sunset view.”
“Okay, see you later. Love you.”
“Love you Sweetie.”
She ended the call and was about to resume her exploration when the odd silence of the study room caught her attention. The rest of her fellow students were staring at her with a mixture of unease and skepticism.
“What?” She demanded.
“Just promise me that if I ever buy stock in a restaurant you give me forty-eight hours notice before you eat there,” one finally said.
She blinked at that and the room broke into a chuckle. However the collective attention turned back to their studies and she shrugged the oddity off.