Such A Silly Game We Play

Leena is one of those goody-goody teenage girls who is obedient to her parents, maintains high grades in school, has an average social life, and zero night life. Even more, she's the usual shy-type, terrible at making new friends, and even more terrible when it comes to oh-so-cheesy relationships, which was surprisingly coming her way now.

With so many things on the line that could go wrong if she ever followed what she truly wants, will she ever have the guts to let it all out? Would the guy do the same? Or, would both of them just sit down and wait until some miracle happens?


29. Life Is Like Math




"Alriiiight! Everybody give me a woof-woof!" Ms. Avana said while raising her hands up in the air. 

Here we were, sitting on the back of a Toyota HIACE Super Grandia van looking dead and dull as ever. We didn't say anything. All of us were pissed and exhausted. Pissed because we were going to miss our first formal ever, and exhausted because we were up all night to review for the Math contest.

"Oh, come on you guys! It'll be okay! Have some energy!" Ms. Avana said again.

"Ma'am, not to ruin your mood, but it's 5 o'clock in the morning, the sun isn't even up and we've only had about 4 hours of sleep. MAX. So we don't really have a lot of energy," Alexa said while yawning.

Ms. Avana's facial expression changed from excited to bored. "Okaaaay, fine. You guys can sleep while we travel."

All of us said thank you and went straight to sleep.



I woke up and the sun was bright as ever. My head was leaning on the window and as I looked at my back, Stevie and Alexa were still sleeping. I looked at my front, Ms. Avana was also sleeping. Which means the driver and I were the only ones awake. I looked at my wrist watch and saw that it was already 8 am. Wait... we've been travelling for 3 hours now?!


"Uhm, excuse me! Sir?" I called the driver. I looked at the rear view mirror and saw his eyes looking back at me. "How far are we from the State University?"


"Almost there! 'Bout 30 minutes left! We'll we could've been there 2 hours earlier if it wasn't traffic! Apparently, 6 am - 7 am is the rush hour traffic in this town," he replied looking pissed.


"Oh, thanks." Since I had no one to talk to and my eyes are still red and dry from reading and writing last night, I just decided to fiddle with my phone. And as I did, I saw one text message from Zander:


You are gonna love me tonight!
Did something to my outfit. Just a small touch. ;)


Holy crap. This is definitely going to be an addition to his past bad decisions! I replied:


Crap, Z! What the hell did you do?!


Oh gooood! Was he being sarcastic?! By small, did he mean huge?! Did he change the color to neon? 


RELAX! You'll be proud of me later. Good luck with the contest, math geek! 


Uhm, thanks for that name? After a few minutes, I received a message from John and Thea:

John: GOOD LUCK LEENS! It's gonna be a piece of cake!

Thea: Bestieeeeee! (Ew. No. I don't call you that.) Anyway, good luck! Kick them ass!

It felt really great receiving those messages. Oh, don't you love supportive friends! Just as I was about to say Thanks, the van took a left turn towards a gigantic jet-black metal gate. The driver said something to the guard and we went straight to one of the old, brick-covered, building. Ms. Avana was awake now, and as we came to a stop, she quickly opened the door, stepped out, and had a deep breath, inhaling that cool spring air.   "Alright my Champs! Now is the time to have all your energy ready! Oh! Come on, I can see the other contestants lining up at the registry."  

Alexa, Stevie and I quickly stepped out of the van. Ms. Avana led us into a huge lobby (which almost looked like a hotel lobby), with a huge chandelier in the middle. 


"Good morning! Welcome to the Annual Math Competition!," a tall, blonde, and slim woman greeted us as we entered. She directed us towards the line on the Registry.

It was a loooong line! And it was getting even longer as other students from different states kept arriving, which made the three of us really nervous.


The three of us were already seated on our table, and the other contestants too. In 15 minutes, the contest was going to start. I could see Ms. Avana sitting at the back together with all the audience, guests, and some parents.   

"So, you guys remember everything?" Stevie asked.

"Hope so," I replied with a very shaky voice.

Alexa didn't answer right away. I could see that she was really nervous. "I... I don't even know why Ms. Avana chose me. I... I mean, come on! Look at them, they look 100 times smarter than me!"

"Well, Ms. Avana chose us for a good reason okay. She really thinks we could do it," Stevie replied.

"Oh maaan! I'm so nervous. Not to be shallow, but we've gotta win! Right, Leena?" Alexa asked.

"... you know what, I agree with you. Yeah, we really have to win. I would feel really bad if we didn't."

Stevie gave the two of us his blank face. "Winning? That's what the two of you want?"

And in return, we also gave him a blank stare. "Okaaaay, we all want to win, okay? But, you know, we have to enjoy it too. Just do your best!"    



"Good morning everybodyyyyyy!" a male voice shouted. "We'll be starting the easy round this morning. Next is the Average Round. Then, of course, lunch 'cause we'll all be hungry. Followed by the Difficult Round in the afternoon."  


And here it was. The contest we've been preparing for for weeks now. The easy round went by, and heck, it really was easy! Simple Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division, mixed with a few simple Trigonometry questions. Though, we had about 3 mistakes due to carelessness.  

"OMG, we're actually doing great!" Alexa shouted when the Easy Round ended and the volunteers were counting the scores. We were Group 3, and when they finished, we saw that we had 27 points out of 30.   

"NOT BAD!" I shouted. "We're on 7th place! Out of 23 groups! We're good, yeah?"

"Don't get too caught up. I bet the average round isn't going to be THAT average. It always happens," Stevie replied. Way to kill my good mood Stevie.


The first average question was like this:



Good lord, don't you just hate Geometry? I like Trigonometry more.  Each question on the average round has 3 points. And by the looks of it, we're gonna be dead at the end of this round.

It turns out, everyone had a bad time during the Average Round. But even so, we advanced 2 places. to 5th place.

"Contestants and guests, we will be having a short lunch break before the Final round. Please continue to the Mess Hall for the lunch prepared for all of us." Stevie, Alexa and I stood up and walked together towards Mess Hall. 


"You know what, just  a little more push and we may even win! I can't believe we're actually doing it!" Alexa said while taking a bite of her garlic bread. They served us a plate full of spaghetti. 

"Yeah right, if that was the Average Round, I don't want to see the Final one," Stevie said humbly. Oh please, of course you do! You're the smartest!

Ms. Avana sat with us for a while, congratulating us even if the contest wasn't even over. I took my phone out of my pocket to see if anybody texted me, and sadly, no one did. Probably busy preparing for Prom. And to be honest, I also wanted for him to text me right now. 



The Final round started after an hour, and all of us were silent and tense. They included some basic Calculus questions even though this was just for high school contestants. But fortunately, I already studied them when I had my advanced math class. Stevie knows it too, I don't know why. But Alexa didn't.

The round went by with a series of Derivatives, Antiderivatives, and Numerical Integration questions that we were able to answer. We were so close to the top 3, all we needed was to answer the last question right.


And it was fugging hard!


"HOLY CRAP! What the f*** is that?!" Alexa shouted looking nervous as ever.

Stevie and I were both silent. 

"I'm so sorry guys, I don't know what the hell that is!" Alexa kept talking.

"Substitute to u first, right?! Am I right?!" I asked to both of them.

"YES!" Stevie shouted as he grabbed a piece of blank paper.

After a long and tiresome trial and error, I came up with my final answer: 1/5.

"What did you get?" Stevie asked me and I showed him my solution.
"You?" I asked. 30 seconds remaining.

"Same!" He shouted. We both stared at each other for a second and then immediately grabbed the board and pen.

"Got 'ya covered!" Alexa shouted while raising the board facing us, where the answer was already written.

When the time was up and the host was about to show the answers, we could all feel the pressure everyone was feeling. Out of nowhere, Alexa held my arm, squeezing it so tight while holding the board on her other hand, which made me to grab Stevie's arm and do the same. Our hearts were beating loudly, then, the host showed the answer:





Alexa's grip on my arm loosened as she saw the answer. Then after a few seconds, it tightened again. 

"WAIT! It's the same! 0.20 is equal to 1/5, right? RIGHT?!" Alexa asked me, shouting already since the crowd was already cheering and shouting.

I just nodded in astonishment. "Oh. My. God."

The host turned over to our board and said: "Okay, we will accept answers in fraction form! 5 points for Group 3!"

I grabbed both Alexa and Stevie's arm, trying to compose myself, and trying not to scream. 


As they tallied the scores, the other host made us all stand up and bow to the audience. The crowd cheered so loudly that for a minute, all of our stress and exhaustion suddenly disappeared. It was an overwhelming feeling. Ms. Avana stood up too, and the three of us waved. She said something like 'You did it!'.


The host called everybody's attention again and all the contestants went to the big stage. 

"... and for the moment we've all been waiting for! The top 3 winners of this contest will be given their corresponding plaque and trophy, $ 1,000 prize for each student, and for the champion group, they will be given.... a free admittance, with the St. Francis Scholarship Program for the next school year to one of our main sponsors: Oakland University!," the crowd went silent and everyone was listening, "...With 100% refund of tuition fee, a monthly allowance for each student, if they choose to be part of the Math Department of the State University. However, if they don't choose a course related to Math, they will only be given half of the benefits."

Everyone cheered and shouted. FREE college if you won this contest. That. is. Amazeballssss!


"For the 2nd runner up... from Brentville University... Group 7!", the crowd cheered as the three students, about 3 groups away from us walked towards the center of the stage and accepted their prize.


Then suddenly, I felt Stevie tugging my arm and Alexa's arm. He looked pale and nervous. "Basically, if we made it to 2nd place I would be so very happy! But of course, who wouldn't want a free scholarship to Oakland, right?", Stevie smiled.

"All of us would be." Our hands were shaking now, sweaty and shaky. But we didn't mind.


"For the 1st runner up... Group number 1! From Oakland University!" the host cheered.

My eyes widened. I looked at Stevie and Alexa who looked flushed. I think we were feeling the same thing. That feeling you get when you're 99% positive that you weren't going to win anymore, but even though, you could still feel the 1% hope that you could.

I looked at Ms. Avana and she was just sitting, looking as nervous as we are.


"Now... for the winner of this contest! Only 2 points higher than Group Number one! From Southern Hills High School!" My heart skipped a beat. What did he just say?


"Group Number 3!" And everyone from the crowd stood up, and started cheering and shouting loudly. The three of us were still holding hands and we didn't move.


"Well, come on now!", the host called us, "the prize isn't going to accept itself! Everyone, our champions for the 2015 Math Competition!" And everyone cheered again.





It was already 5 pm when the event finished, and we were all exhausted. Physically and mentally. Ms. Avana even treated us a Venti-sized coffee from Starbucks, which we really appreciated. Nothing like a hot soothing cup of coffee after a tiring day! All of us went inside the van as the driver waited for us at the parking lot. He congratulated us when he saw us walking with the biggest trophy. We still couldn't believe it. Honestly, as a normal teenager, that $1,000 prize for each of us was enough for me! But, a free admission to college to one of the biggest business schools  in our country? WOW. I can't wait to tell mom and dad.

We were already on the freeway when something popped out in my mind. Wait, Oakland? Oakland University?!

The one that Jeff applied to for a scholarship.


Is this the universe telling me something?! And suddenly, just like any girl would do, my mind started to day dream of all the endless possibilities that could happen.

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