At lunch, I took a seat across from Trent. The cafeteria was louder than usual as everyone was getting geared up for summer break and sharing plans with each other. Trent wasn't eating and instead studied a sheet of paper. I asked, "What's up?"
Trent kept his eye on the paper and pulled a pen from his shirt pocket. He circled something and mumbled, "It doesn't fit."
"What are you talking about?"
Trent turned the paper around and pushed it toward me across the tabletop. On the page was a series of meaningless, random numbers. Trent had circled one of the numbers near the right margin of the page. I didn't get it.
"There are seven columns of numbers," Trent said. "In most cases, the value of the numbers increase from left to right in a predictable manner. There are some outliers, but that number I circled doesn't fit."
I studied the page. Trent's explanation appeared to be true. The numbers in the right most columns were higher than the columns on the left. But the number Trent had circled also fit the pattern. I asked, "What makes you think that this one doesn't fit?"
Trent's hands rested on his hips. "Can't you see it? It deviates more so than the others, barely perceptible, but nonetheless detectable."
Nobody else at the Gemthe Academy talked the way Trent did. He had turned into a real nerd. "If you say so."
"I know so," he said and tapped the side of his head with an index finger.
Wanting to change the subject, I asked, "You doing anything special over the summer?"
He rocked in his chair. "Yeah, swimming in my grandmother's pool and working. She wants me to look at papers like the one I just showed you to find numbers that don't fit."
"Is she going to pay you to do that?"
"Yeah," he said but offered no other details.
I told him about my upcoming trip to New Mexico.
Trent looked at my itinerary. "That's cool."
After school, I walked with Trent to meet up with Judge Severn. Trent opened the passenger door and climbed in.
I held the door open and leaned in. "Hi. Just wondering if you have any news about my brother?"
Judge Severn looked at me and removed her sun glasses. "I called Jacko's school this afternoon. He's still there, confined to his room. Mr. Gomez has agreed to keep your brother there until we can find a home for him."
Her words put me at ease. "Can I go see him? Maybe this weekend?"
"I don't believe that would be in Jacko's best interest."
"How could not seeing my brother be in his best interest?"
The corners of Judge Severn's lips turned down. "I understand how you might view what I said as counterintuitive, but Jacko seemed very angry with you. I spoke with the psychiatrist on staff. She feels that a period of separation may ease Jacko's current trauma."
YOU ARE READING
The Story of SingTeen Fiction
[2018 Wattys Short List] - Sixteen-year-old Sing strives to do well in school so that he can find a decent job and provide a better life for his crippled mother and younger brother, Jacko. That goal becomes derailed when Sing is falsely accused of a...