“How long?” my brother asked.
“Concentrate, Lily,” Mom hollered again.
“Mom, leave her alone,” Luc snapped, as he held up his hand. “Let her think for a minute.”
I read the story again, concentrating on each word, willing myself to find the answer. I briefly glanced in Mom’s direction. As our eyes met, I saw her shaking her head at me.
Luc gave me a little nudge and I looked back down at the page, reading the story yet again. I would have to give an answer. Luc was waiting. If I got it wrong, Mom might yell at me again. I had to get it right. I just had to.
“A minute?” I said softly, ready to burst into tears.
“That’s right!” Luc said triumphantly. “The longest that you would need to wait to ensure that all ants are off is one minute. Well done, Lily.”
“Huh,” Mom snorted. “Lucky guess.”
While Mom and Dad watched a movie on television, Luc and I played battleship. He won the first two games; I won the third. I wondered if he let me win just to make me feel good.
When Mom glanced at the clock and announced it was bedtime, Luc and I packed up, wished Mom and Dad good night, and climbed the stairs to our bedrooms.
At the top of the stairs I remembered that I had left my reading book on the table and went back down. I was about to open to door to the living room when I thought I heard Mom and Dad talking about me.
“And you want that girl to go to high school? She can’t even do math without Luc’s help.”
“She came up with the answer, didn’t she?”
“She guessed it.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Of course she guessed it, Albert. Do you really think she knew the answer? I don’t understand how one child can be so smart and the other so stupid.”
“Don’t call Lily stupid, Marion.”
“She is stupid.”
I crept back up the stairs, my hand shaking on the banister and tears rolling down my cheeks. It hurt hearing Mom say that I was stupid, but she was right. I had guessed the answer to the math problem. If it hadn’t been for Luc, I
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