Every night when she got home, Aubrey would pull out the sheets of paper–hundreds of pages, connected at their edges by Scotch Tape–on which she calculated her happiness. Thousands of variables multiplied and divided, sqaured and subtracted preceded an equals sign which preced a value of 100,000. 100,000 was the nubmer that signified her optimal happiness, and she was working to solve for all the variables that came before it.

These variables represented all the myriad factors in Aubrey’s life. Some were set in stone, like n1, which was her birth name. Aubrey had no intention of changing her name, so n3 carried the same value, as n1, though it might be changed, should it prove necessary.

So every night she sat in front of the coffee table in her bedroom, rearranging numbers and operations and little letters with numbers under them.

The difficulty of this long equation was not only that she didn’t know the necessary values of the variables (and a hundred always changed each time she changed one), but she didn’t know the proper formula to begin with. She was constantly rewriting sections of the equation, recognizing the flaws.

One night, Aubrey’s roommate, Susan, observed Aubrey working on solving for g5 (the number of years of an undefined foreign language she should take in college).

“Oy gevalt,” Aubrey moaned (she had until six months ago been a non-practicing Catholic, but had recently converted to Judaism per her conclusions on r16 and was injecting Yiddish vocabulary into her speech to smooth the transition–till the dictates of r19 would make her an atheist in 2014), “g5‘s in the wrong spot entirely!”

“Hey, Aub,” Susan suggested, leaned up against a doorjamb, casually sipping a cup of tea, “what if you just plugged in all of the variables that sound best, and just go with whatever you end up with?”

“I’ve tried that, Susan!” Aubrey snapped, “and I end up with 79,846.43333 and on! Does that sound like 100,000 to you?!”

“Just a thought,” Susan shrugged. “Don’t gotta bit my head off about it.”

Aubrey sighed. “Sorry I snapped, Susan. I just know I can get it perfect, and I can’t stop till I do.”

“Alright. I’ll leave you to it, then.”


Susan walked away. Aubrey erased g5 from the equation, and began sifting through the pages, tattered from age and revision, and searched for where it belogned.

This post is an installment in a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Enoch Allred of Chiltingham, John Allred of clol Town, Jon Fairbanks of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Eli Z. McCormick and Miriam Allred of Modern Revelation!, John D. Moore of Whatnot Studios, Davey Morrison, Joseph Schlegel of Sour Mayonnaise, Sven Patrick Svensson of Sadness? Euphoria?, and William C. Stewart of Chide, Chode, Chidden. This week’s theme: ‘Algebra‘.


About John D. Moore

Writer, cartoonist, filmmaker, and student of Japanese language, literature, and cinema at the University of Utah.

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