Math class. Even worse than English. It’s not any easier to hold onto numbers as it is letters, and adding symbols and fractions and confusion onto the page doesn’t help. Plus, Percy has to share his book with somebody in second period who likes to doodle in the margins.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t like to do the same. They’re going to run out of space.
On Tuesday, he waits until the teacher turns back to the whiteboard to look at the front of the book. There, right above his, he sees her name—Annabeth Chase—written in slanting, printed letters, the ends of each word curling up. It’s looks like her drawings, tall columns and buildings and sometimes, tucked near the corners and near difficult word problems, soft vines and blooming flowers. He kind of likes this girl. She doesn’t always remember to erase the equations she tries out next to the problems.
On page 73, alongside a ridiculously complex graph, Percy draws a confused face and writes, Any ideas?
The bell rings, and Percy grabs his bag, closes his book, and slides it into slot 14, where Annabeth Chase will pick it up tomorrow, and where he brings it back to his desk the period after hers and opens it to the page. He’s surprised to see that she’s actually responded. The page is shiny underneath where he’d written, like she’d responded but erased several times, and then she says, Wouldn’t this be considered cheating?
And then a smiley face with a tongue sticking out.
Percy laughs. Mr. Brown looks up and scowls. “And what is so funny, Johnson?”
“Jackson, then,” Mr. Brown manages to say between his teeth. “Perhaps you’d like to share your jokes in detention.”
Of course he would. Percy sighs and looks back down at his book, drawing a cartoon version of Mr. Brown underneath Annabeth Chase’s smiley face, making sure his watery, bulging eyes are huge beneath his glasses and right above his stupid handle-bar moustache.
The next day, after his detention and his mother’s lecture and the smug look Mr. Brown shoots him as Percy walks into the classroom, Percy grabs his book and flips to page 73. Annabeth Chase has written Too funny! next to his picture, and right underneath that, she writes the equation he needs to figure out the graph and each step to take to figure it out. Her handwriting is hard to follow when she writes close together, and he has to read it several times, but the way she explains it starts to make sense as the class ends.
Thank you, he writes as the bell rings, trying to wipe the stupid smile off his face before Mr. Brown zeroes in on him. Before he can think any more about it, Percy scribbles a quick, messy heart right underneath his message and slams the book shut, sliding it into the slot and hurrying out the door, pretending he’s not blushing.