Numbers, and a life to demise

by Han

My head is wrapped around three. One. My hands are pulled across me. Two. My body is mangled beyond degree. Three. My legs wish to flee. Four.

I recall that night, many years ago, when I spoke to a mathematician. We talked for hours over the phone. But I remember so little of that night. Another friend once said that the best way to recall a memory of a distant past is to return what we were then. So, now, I need to speak in a language that will make this revisitation easy: numbers. We called for four hours, thirty-three minutes, and four seconds. We talked about devotion, people, religion, mathematics, and art. Memory tells me it was five topics; delight contests but gives no alternative. Perhaps it is true: the choice to measure is given up in moments of pleasure.

I was young and foolish. I moved into my dorm without an alarm clock. The only marker for time was my phone. Yet, talking to him over the phone meant that I could not have constant access to it, to time. The occlusion to it also implied that I knew nothing about direction and movement. I sought something else for anchor.

I looked out of my room and saw the light. I counted the number of times the light in the street ahead turned red. Ten was the most. His words were coming out of my phone; they were clashing with my numbers. Even though I mouthed these numbers, and said nothing, I still lost count. This arithmetic break told me that words and numbers could not go hand in hand. I had to stop. I needed to hear the reflections of my friend, his theories about applied mathematics and the linearity of lines.

Years later, tonight, I am thinking about this friend, his passion for numbers, and his belief in their workability. What will he say of my situation?

Your numbers could work, he would say.

But, as I write this now, I know that his answer would come from a place foreign to human relations; they come from data and equations. My numbers, in that regard, would work.