20. Immaculate Misconception

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20. Immaculate Misconception


“Well?” I ask him. “Is Eureka a terrible idea, or what?”

“Maybe,” Mr. Aschen answers. “There must have been a better solution than smashing all his work.”

“Sure, he could have quietly quit and turned in the work he’d completed, but you’re missing the point. If Steven planned to be soft about it, he never would carry through with it. It had to be done while we stood there and witnessed it or Steven would convince himself against it, and it would never happen. So it’s not about the best possible solution—the best solution takes more than fifteen minutes. It’s about the solution that’ll actually get done.”

Mr. Aschen only nods, expression indecipherable.

“Then, here’s another one,” I say.


Senior year, December

I stretched out my hand, fingers spread.

Five points, five lines, five minutes until school ended for the entire Christmas break. My palm blocked out the teacher in front of me, who looked hung over again.

Eureka working its way back into our lives was like the pressure change before a coming storm. David was out there, somewhere, influencing everything we did even without making himself known.

I’d stopped smoking weed every day. I wanted to be clear and focused for whatever came. I wanted to remember every second. Eureka was a jealous addiction, and wouldn’t allow for any others.

“I’m bored. I’ve seen this episode like a billion times,” Geoff moaned beside me, referring to the day’s events. “Is this what man was born for? To sit in desks all day and accomplish nothing? We’re achievers, my friend.”

“What has mankind ever achieved?” I leaned over and whispered to Geoff.

“Uh…okay, I’ll play. Airplanes? Trains, cars, the moon landing? The Internet? Pornography?”

“I think those are all complications, not advancements. What do you think life is like in the Third World?”

“A lot more death,” Geoff replied.

“A short meaningful life, or a long useless one? Which is better?” I asked. “I think that’s the problem with America, you know? We have everything handed to us. We don’t know what to do but grab as much as we can and keep it to ourselves.”

Geoff spied a female student ahead of him. “I wouldn’t mind grabbing some for myself anyway. God knows I could use some.”

“You don’t, though. You don’t need it, I mean. You just think you do.”

The bell rang, and we walked together to the parking lot.

“Since when did you know what the hell is wrong with America?” Geoff asked.

“I’ve been noticing things lately is all.”

“I think you’ve been noticing the inside of your own ass. You should pull your head out and think about what’s wrong with you,” Geoff said.

“Nothing,” I mumbled.


“Nothing is wrong with me,” I said, and as the words tumbled out, I realized this was the first time I’d meant it. For once, I didn’t feel like some average, poor white trash kid. Eureka made me special.

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