Numbers. Numbers. There's a secret in the numbers. How do I get to it? Nah, I'm not crazy. Not like all those other number freaks. They make up meanings because they want to find some. I've already seen the meaning. I just want to know the why. Seen the who. The what. The where. The when. The how. Even the which. But I don't know the why.
"He's gonna figure it out." Twist's face shows genuine concern. She's been hiding in the shadows for a while. Hiding behind Shadow. But if she's revealed, then, well, the game's over.
"Figure what out? There's nothing to figure out." The cigarette smoke disappears in the steam. Mother likes to talk about how he never smokes inside the house. Apparently he doesn't count the shower as being inside the house.
"That's what he's going to figure out." Foil shares Twist's concern. He learned long ago to follow the lead of his sister. Her eyes are always looking, always seeing. Always perceiving. Foil's never been the sharpest tool in the shed, he knows this. It's this knowledge that prevents him from sharing his theory. Mother wants the game to be over.
"He already knows. That's why there's nothing to figure out." Both children hate that Mother smokes.
It's there. Hidden in the subtext. I keep going over the conversations in my head. Double-meanings. Triple-meanings. What seems blunt, open, honest, might be anything but. It's hard to trust the words. But the numbers. They're just math. Math doesn't lie. Mathematicians might, but not the math.
The plot's been set for a while. I know where the story's going. Previous encounters preparing me for the final, like some weird romantic gauntlet. They've all had something in common. Maybe not with each other, but definitely with the one around the corner. Nothing but clues. Foreshadow in the details. Oh, the details.
She's beautiful. What does she have to do with the numbers?
"Are you sure he's really coming?" Twist only asks because he's been known to waffle. Change his mind on a whim. She really has no idea how much he wants to figure this out.
"He's coming." Mother steps out of the shower, reaches for a towel. Neither of his children will tell him, but Mother's aged well. He'd be rather popular if he came out of hiding more often. Not that it matters to Mother. A defining encounter is soon to happen. "Foil saw the arrangements."
"Yeah, I did." There's some emotional confusion for Foil. He's a bit leery of what Mother believes is sure to happen, but he does want it to happen. A least a small part of him does. The mystery they've all been relishing for the past few months - nearly a year - will end, and there is some sadness to that. The relationship and its exchanges have been interesting. But, one way or another, Twist needs to be revealed. The game demands it.
"Just because he's coming doesn't mean he's going to win." Mother's voice is reassuring, as always, even though it was not a statement of reassurance.
The day of the month. The month of the year. The date. There's a warning in it. Or maybe just a sign. I can't tell. It's worrisome, regardless. High hopes or a harbinger. That's the secret. That's the Twist. Multiplication equaling a number that equals me. If I can be divided into integers. I don't know the control measures. That's the problem. It's in the formula. I don't know what that is, either.
There's a secret in the numbers. I'm gonna run out of fingers.
"Should I stay out of the way?" Twist isn't really worried, but she knows things might get awkward. She's also aware that even if she stays hidden, she's revealed. It's an inevitability that makes the climax a given, even if no one has any idea what's going to happen.
"No. Act natural. Let it play out." They can tell Mother's annoyed. He's been expecting this for some time and has played out many different scenarios. Some good; some bad. But all lead to a conclusion. He's coming without much of a plan, so chaos will be in order. There's no point in preparing reactions, only preparing for the arrival. It'll unfold as it will.
"I warned him." There's a small smile on Foil's face. He did warn him. But he also inadvertently encouraged him. That's usually what happens when someone fails to take a strong position. There is more than one way to the end of an equation. Foil accidentally provided more than one math.
"Yes, and you shouldn't have. The challenge is what motivated him." Mother reaches for a cigarette. The game's well afoot. It remains to be seen what the final score will be.
Numbers. Numbers. They're not adding up. Maybe I am crazy. It's not a sum; it's a product. Knowing the variables is not helping me. She's an undefined value. X. A gestalt of smaller geometric shapes in the form of an answer to a question.
She's the who. The what. I know where she is. I know when I'll be there. Shit, I've had it wrong. I do know the why. I don't know the how. Which is unimportant, which is why nobody asks it. The proof needs to be solved. Too bad I suck at math.
This is either going to be great, or I'm going to die. What am I up against?
Numbers. Numbers. What a strange year.
*Continued in 24