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F=ma

By
July 1, 2007

The way they cheated was with calculators. Half the questions on the blind man’s tests came straight from the homework. One boy figured out the answers and put them in the other boys’ calculators in exchange for friendship. The boy who knew the answers was very short, almost as short as me, a short girl. He had to shave every day early though—he was that kind of short. I’m the other kind, the kind that had to shave late. I did everything late. I’m still waiting for a lot of things to happen to me.

The blind man lived near me. He was my neighbor. I would see him walking home in his suit and cane. He wasn’t totally blind. He could see a little bit. He graded our tests on a large-print screen. One letter, one number, took up the whole screen. I went in after I failed the first test and saw my answer up there on the screen, big and wrong.

The boys would meet at the house of the boy who knew the answers, and they were all boys. I was the only girl in the class except for a girl who didn’t talk. The blind man thought I was the only girl in the class. He told me there were a lot of smart boys in that class and I would have to work extra hard to keep up, but I knew that there was only one smart boy in the class and he was giving the other boys the answers. So I left the blind man a note. I don’t know how he read it, if he had a magnifying glass or if his wife read it to him, but the next time we weren’t allowed to use those calculators.

Rebecca Schiff’s fiction has appeared in n+1. She lives in Brooklyn.

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