By Joseph Young

He was told he had to pass math. Math, said his math teacher, either you’re part of the problem, or part of the solution.

After class, he took his textbook out under a tree. There were the most beautiful berries in the tree—exact globes of red and blue that took up the blue afternoon light—and the most beautiful birds that ate them.

What do you think? he said to the numbers in his book. Do you see these wonders? Do you hear these songs?

The numbers arranged themselves into columns and forms. The numbers equaled themselves in abstraction.

That’s what I thought, he said.

At the edge of the campus was a lake. The lake was human made, with a wall of dazzling geometry that held it in and shaped it.

Here, he said, gently, to his textbook, and he threw the book upon the lake. I was never going to pass: in any case.

The book drifted smoothly to the bottom, solving all questions, ears stopped with water to the world.


Joseph Young lives, writes, and makes art in Baltimore. His stories have recently appeared in Jellyfish Review, Corium, FRiGG, and Airgonaut. His art has been shown in galleries and other venues throughout Baltimore and beyond. His most recent project is MicroFiction RowHouse, for which he will fill his house with stories that tell of the lives of a fictional family who once lived there. Visit his website at

Image by Lesley C. Weston

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