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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 52 | volume X | January-February, 2007



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 52January-February, 2007
Prose

The French Mathematician

– excerpt from the novel–


/11
p. 1
Tom Petsinis

1

    I must appear a pathetic figure to that person looking down from that fourth-story window beyond the schoolyard wall. It looks like an artist's studio. Who knows, perhaps I am being sketched with a scrap of charcoal at this very instant—a slight youth with untidy black hair, strong eyebrows, mouth like a sparrow. I have been standing in this corner of the schoolyard since the beginning of morning recess, huddled under an elm, caught in the crisp shadow of its branches. The smell of burning paper fills the yard. Smoke twisting up from a nearby incinerator spreads in a cursive script across the clear winter sky. Arms crossed, fists clenched, fingernails cutting into my palms, I feel sorry for my short, thin shadow which has hardly changed since I came to Louis-le-Grand three years ago. Fifteen last October, I could be mistaken for a twelve-year-old. The boys who started with me have grown noticeably during the past year: Pimples bud from their faces, the down on their cheeks has darkened, their thighs and voices have thickened. I grit my teeth. My recent demotion was due more to lack of physical development than poor performance in a few subjects.
    Let them have the present—the future belongs to me. When their idiotic games turn to stone and their laughter vanishes in the wind, my thoughts will live on, not only in this language, but in those which today still lack alphabets. From the time I learned to read under Mother's prodding eyes, I have been intrigued by the magic of ink and sensed that my name would be preserved in print. Is this why my inner voice is so pronounced? Am I projecting myself into the future by means of this inner voice? A message put in a bottle and thrown into the ocean. If I am destined to be written about, my conscious effort here and now might influence how my life will be represented.
    – Galois the girl! Galois the girl!
    A burst of warm vapor blasts my ear. Before I am able to retaliate the name-caller is sprinting across the yard, laughing wildly, shoes crackling over small pools laced with ice. I hate them all —the students, the teachers, the Director. This school is no better than a prison. Why did Father insist I study in Paris? I was happy at home in Bourg-la-Reine. Mother could have seen to my education. After


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