Dad was furious when he came home that night, saw me, and heard from Mom what she had done. After I was sent to my room, I heard him yell at Mom. Mom yelled too, and it went on and on. Then suddenly they grew quiet. When I crept back downstairs, I found Mom in the living room and Dad in the kitchen. I could feel something was wrong and I knew my hair was the cause of it. For the rest of the week, whenever Dad came home, he didn’t kiss Mom hello and didn’t talk to her.
Then a voice snapped me back to my math.
“Luc, your sister needs help with her homework,” Mom said, waving in my direction.
“Let me guess, math?” he asked.
To my relief, Luc smiled and looked at the book in front of me.
“Don’t just give her the answer,” Mom scolded, looking up from her knitting. “Reason it out with her and let her come up with the answer on her own.”
Luc sat down next to me. “Okay, any ideas?”
“Two ants bouncing off each other is equivalent to two ants that pass through each other, in the sense that the positions of the ants in each case are identical,” Luc began. “Does that make it any clearer?” I took a deep breath but didn’t say anything.
Luc demonstrated ants walking on the table with his fingers.
I concentrated but didn’t get it. I just didn’t. Biting my lip, I looked up at him. Why did he understand this question after reading it only twice, while I had read it over and over again and had no clue? I suddenly felt very warm and nauseous. “Hmm . . . Um, I don’t know,” I whispered, close to tears.
“Envision the ants walking, Lily,” Luc encouraged. “See them walking on that stick. How long is it going to take them to get to the other side?”
“Lily, are you concentrating?” Mom called from the sitting room. “Don’t let your brother figure this out for you. Come up with the answer yourself.” Swallowing away a lump in my throat, I felt tears burning behind my eyes. I hated being yelled at. I didn’t know how long it would take the stupid ants to