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1. I will not cavort in class.

2. I will not cavort in class.

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99. I will not cavort in class.

 

“Sebastian.”

“Yes, Miss May?”

“That will do. You may be excused.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Sebastian placed the now-miniscule piece of chalk in the chalkboard tray, grabbed his backpack and headed for the door. He hoped his brother, François, was still waiting for him on the playground.

“Sebastian?” Miss May inquired, peering at him over her reading glasses.

       Now what?

“Ma’am?”

“What important lesson did we learn today?”

     We didn’t learn jack shit.

“Ummm…no more splitting atoms for thermonuclear purposes?”

“Indeed.” Miss May cocked an eyebrow. “You may leave.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”


“What took you so long? What’d she make you do?” François jumped off the swing mid-air when he spotted his brother.

“Aw, man!” Sebastian dug a crumpled pack of Camel Straights out of his backpack. I  had to write ‘I will not cavort in class’ ninety-nine times on the chalkboard.” He felt his pockets for a book of matches. “Got a light?”

François flicked his Bic. “Ninety-nine times? That’s weird. When I had her last year, it was an even hundred—always.”

“I know.” Sebastian exhaled a massive puff of smoke. “I wondered about that, too. And I may have figured it out.”

“Yeah?” François lit-up the half-smoked Winston he’d saved from lunch.

“The atomic number for Einsteinium is 99, an’…”

“Holy crap, that’s right! With a relative mass of 252, which…”

“…also adds up to nine,” Sebastian finished his brother’s sentence. “That’s three nines.”

François thought for a moment. “Hey, wait. The atomic number for Fluorine is 9!”

Not to be outdone, Sebastian interjected, “Nine times three is 27, which means…

“Cobalt,”  Françoise concluded.

“Let’s go home and see what happens when we combine ’em all. Want to?”

“Heck, yeah!” Françoise’s eyes beamed with anticipation. “This could be just the thing to put us on the map!”

“Or blow us off the map,” Sebastian grinned.

“Naaaah! We’ll wear the Hazmat suits that Grams sent us for Christmas.”

“I hope Mom remembered to pick mine up from the cleaners.” Sebastian shrugged. “Y’know, there’s one thing that still bugs me.”

“Such as?

Cavort. I mean, why’d she pick that word? Reminds me o’ one o’ those male ballerinas, or whatever you call ’em… jumpin’ around like an asshole.”

“Well, let’s see. Ca is Calcium. V is Vanadium. O is of course, Oxygen…”

 

The Abject Muse/Susan Writes Precise