KJ Hannah Greenberg

Tabassum, my gubbertushed best friend, analyzed her profile in my bedroom mirror. No matter the shade of lip gel she applied, her facial silhouette remained atypical.  

Without warning, that gal pal threw Beautiful and Beastly Makeup at me.  

“Stupid vendors,” she yelled, before snatching the magazine back and tearing it to bits. “They’re just a bunch of multifarious institutions for structured chaos. Our misery feeds their profits.”  

“Yup,” I answered. I was sitting cross-legged on my bed trying to figure out an antiderivative in the homework that Tabassum and I had been assigned by our calculus teacher. Mr. Norton hated when I called the process of moving backward from a derivative of a function to a function “solving the antiderivative,” but I like the way that phrase sounds.  

“I can’t believe it. Those print idiots are just as evil as their electronic commerce cousins,” decried Tabassum as she smeared a couple of shades of bronzer on her cheeks. The contouring, at least, enhanced her looks.  

“Um huh,” I responded. Our class had three antiderivatives for which to solve; cos (x), exp (3x) and x-1/4.  

“Forget this!” Tabassum hurled two eye crayons, respectively, Spring Green, and Robin Blue, at my mirror. Fortunately, she didn’t crack it. “Let’s skip prom. Let’s skip the rest of our senior year. Let’s run away to Lesotho.”  

“Umm,” I grunted. That high-altitude, landlocked African nation is a much overlooked treasure, but I needed to complete my coursework to matriculate to Drexel.  

“Irma, I’m being serious. I want to see Maletsunyane Falls. I want to camp in Sehlabathebe National Park. I want to ride a jeep through Bokong Nature Reserve.”  

“You and which billionaire? I don’t have the cash and never will until I finish college. To get to college, I have to finish high school. Put down that powder and help me solve for these antiderivatives. Then we’ll work on your prom look together.”  

Tabassum and I were the only people in our class who received one hundred per cent on that homework assignment. To boot, although not elected Prom Queen, Tabassum was voted into the prom court. It seems that calculus is not the only domain in which working backwards from a desired result to the beginnings of a computation works.

First published: November 2017
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