The important thing, he thinks, watching Amy paddle in the sea, is to keep your head above water. Concentrate on the fixed points. It’s early and the water’s cold, but he promised her the beach before they go on. As she turns onto her back, her face and knees appear above the surface like tiny convexities in a world of grey. Her arms windmill over her, sometimes off by as much as 5 degrees from the prescribed angle with the surface.
He doesn’t remember when he started sounding like such a geometer.
Time can be rewritten. It was a promise once, and then a plea. Now it makes his stomach turn. He’s watched things disappear before, seen people vanish from world and time. Being the only one who remembers is only a shade away from madness.
Amy draws herself up onto a large, algaed rock. Local maximum, he thinks automatically. He almost calls to her to be careful, then lowers his hand. For all he knows, it could be out of his control, anyhow.
Times like this all he wants are equations. Some things are constant. Some things can’t change. Theorems don’t wait around for certain people. Ask Newton, or Leibniz. (He’s spoken with both.)
Cosine squared plus sine squared is one. Cosine squared plus sine squared is one.
Even this sort of hope is flimsy at best. He’s seen his share of non-Euclidean spaces, used some very nice metrics where basic operations simply don’t hold. Still, the thought is reflexive, and he doesn’t try to stop it.
E to the i pi plus one is zero.
The sun flares on the horizon. For a moment, the sea is a meadow of red grass lapping in the wind. He forgets to watch for Amy.
X is equal to negative b, plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac, all over 2a.
When he was a small boy learning algebra, he thought he’d never seen anything so beautiful. He thought everything was beautiful. Left to see it all.
Sine of zero: zero.
It’s too much power and he doesn’t want it. Wishes for one blinding moment that he were a boring academic. That he’d never run away.
Cosine of zero: one
Amy walks up the beach to where he stands. He doesn’t meet her eyes, instead watches the wind whip her hair into curves he can’t quite parameterize.
He fingers the ring in his pocket. Lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
Cosine of zero is one
On a graph of things, he’s a pinprick like anyone else–just harder to fix to one spot.
So is she. She takes his hand.