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A Medley of Passion and Joy

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Row, row, row your boat

Jeannie can't help but see the mathematics in the arc of water as it splashes out of the tub, just before soaking her shirt. She laughs and shakes her finger at Madison with a roll of her eyes. But the water sloshes in a rhythm that reminds her of pulsars, and her lips purse, and her fingers absently tap out the binary code she'd need.

"Mom," Madison protests, shoving her arm. "Are you thinking science again?"

"Always, baby," Jeannie tells her, scooping her into the towel. She grins. "You're science too, you know."

"Am not," Madison says.

Jeannie just tickles her until she squeals. After bedtime she'll have to jot down the idea, just in case.

Gently down the stream

"No, no, no, it's not cheaper at all," she argues at the grocery store with a young woman in her twenties. Fingers twitching, she grabs the two bags of frozen meat. "It's not hard, I don't see how anyone can’t see this. 8 lbs for $13.65 is $1.70 a pound, and that other bag is only 5.5 lbs and it's $10.45, which is $1.90 a pound."

The woman looks at her like she's insane. "Look, 13 bucks is more than 10. I'm not stupid."

"That's exactly what they want you to think," Jeannie answers. The look on the woman's face makes her want to throw her hands in the air. "Don't you see? All the things the government gets away with because of the math-ignorance of the population..." She trails off. "I don't even eat meat. Why do I care?"

"I'm going to go buy my cheaper $10 chicken nuggets, okay?" The woman stalks off towards the cashier.

Jeannie doesn't say another word. But she fiercely marks, for her own satisfaction, that chicken nuggets are a complete ripoff when the fresh organic breasts are on sale for $1.30 a pound. That's cheaper. It's basic math, and it's beautiful, even if the cruelty to animals isn't.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

She stands in front of the "window" and looks out into "hyperspace". She never expected science fiction to look like science fiction. Standing in the face of the foundations of the universe, flying through them at unimaginable speeds, she wants to cry.

There's no way she's going to, not with Mer probably watching just around the corner waiting to gloat. Damn him. Instead, she basks in the glow and thinks of wormholes, and wonders what kind of calculations go into the stability they supposedly have. The numbers and figures in her head paint a swirling picture, and set against the inexplicable backdrop of hyperspace, Jeannie feels more alive than ever before.

She grins when the last calculation falls into perfect place. It's a kind of sense that shouldn't make any, and god how she loves it.

Life is but a dream

"I'm not sure if I like Uncle Mer," Madison says as Jeannie tucks her into bed. She's staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars, their sizes not accurate but at least in the correct constellary positions. "He has no fun."

"He has too much fun," Jeannie corrects, folding over the edge of the blanket in a neat line.

"Like what?" Madison demands with childish incredulity.

"Zero point energy and CBR," Jeannie muses with a half smile. "And black holes and cracks in space and time."

Madison giggles. "That's not real fun, that's Doctor Who."

"No bashing the Doctor," Jeannie answers, and pokes her belly. "Sweet dreams."

Madison obediently closes her eyes, and Jeannie walks over to the window. The city lights cloud most of the starlight in her neighborhood, but a few twinkle through, and with a telescope and a little more observation Jeannie could know their mass, relative brightness, life stage, probable future, and could guess at the impact of their dying act.

She catches herself humming "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and shakes her head. Even she has a hard time accepting fingerpaints and children's games as inspiration for science. But science is fun and magic, song and dance, enveloping the senses with childlike untaintedness. Jeannie feels it flow through her body; she inhales atoms and wants to exhale theoretical calculations for strong force. Maybe she will, once she navigates her way out of the maze of toys in this bedroom. Or maybe she'll just wait for the urge to become undeniable again. It's science—it's instinct—only time will tell.