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The Maths Lady

by keithhodges 

Posted: 14 November 2008
Word Count: 851
Summary: A short story of the lady who changed maths as we know it.

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In her prime the Maths Lady was the most elegant, sophisticated, well mannered women you could meet. She had a gentle voice and an even gentler touch, she made her students feel safe, she made them feel comfortable in the classroom, she didn’t need to use the cane to make them listen, she just had something about her that kept all eyes on her, the Maths Lady.
She met a Maths Man, a fellow teacher, well he was a professor of maths, he taught at a university and he could see she was something special. She had a twinkle in her eye that made butterfly’s multiply in his stomach. The two spent a few years together, studying maths, and how it was being taught and they came to the conclusion that they would re-write how we teach maths and the methods behind this. They did this over a number of years and grew closer and closer doing so, they fell in love over maths; a perfect story for the perfect lady, the Maths Lady.
After their work was finished they decided they would settle down and raise a family together, whilst both still working and promoting their new found way of teaching their favourite school subject. The Maths Lady and the Maths Man had a son, you’d think he would be called the Maths Boy, but it turns out he wasn’t all that interested I maths and preferred the arts and crafts instead, leading him to a very well established, lucrative career of collecting coins, so from here on in he’ll be known as the Coin Man. The Coin Man was the Maths Lady and the Maths Man’s only child, and they loved him more than they loved that special subject. Every morning they would have a bowl of fruit, with 6 oranges and 10 apples on the kitchen table, and every morning they would talk about tweaks in the theory working out the sums with these apples and oranges. Then the Maths Lady and the Maths Man figured they should just use the way they work things out in the books, which is what we see today in our texts books, on our classroom walls, in our exam papers just to name but a few places we stumble across the Maths Lady‘s work.
When the Maths Lady started to grow older, and the Maths Man fell ill she divided more time between work and caring for the Maths Man, the Coin Man was away on business and the Maths Lady didn’t want to take him away from such an important trip and worry the Coin Man over nothing. A few months later the Maths Man died, and at the age of 74 and still in good health the Maths Lady decided she should spend more time with her family, and more importantly looking after her own health.
Although being very little, the Maths Lady was very strong, and in her eyes went to live the next 20 years as if she wasn’t ageing at all, as if her body clock had stopped and she had all the time in the world. This however wasn’t the case, only a few months after husbands death the Maths Lady was diagnosed with dementia, and later on in life Alzheimer’s disease. To her life was floating by, and she was getting on with things with out a care in the world, but to everyone else the lady that was once so high up in society was now a burden. The Maths Lady, the most elegant, sophisticated, well mannered women you could meet, was now going in to charity shops and giving them all her clothes, then forgetting she’d done this and would ring the police. She would go out shopping, and leave her car in some ones drive way, she would swear and shout at people in the street. She’s the Maths Lady though, no one could understand this deterioration in health, and after a while it was decide that the Maths Lady should be put into a home for her own good. With her health at an all time low the Maths Lady asked to be moved to a room with a bigger window, as she’d not seen a really decent, clear, crisp, view of her city for a while. The nurses agreed and the Maths Lady sat upright in her bed talking to her family, they were stunned at her improvement and how relaxed the Maths Lady was, all from being in this room.
A few days later, the Maths Lady pushed the buzzer on her bed, it was early, about 4 in the morning, she asked the nurse if she could open the curtain, as she wanted to see outside one last time. The nurse figured this was the disease talking, she opened the curtain and continued about her work.
The Maths Lady looked out the window, past the curtain into the distance, she looked over the city, at the schools, and thought to herself as she slipped into her final sleep, I wonder if anyone will remember the Maths Lady.

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Comments by other Members

NMott at 14:01 on 15 November 2008  Report this post
I found this pulled me in straight away. Nicely written. And I was curious to know how she changed the way we look at maths. (I'm not sure the example with the oranges and apples really explained that).

The only suggestions I have are about plot structure.

I found that from the point in the story with the oranges and apples and changing the text books, the perspective shifted to the real world and the lady's dementia. It is almost like two flash-length stories stitched together by the continuation of the name 'Maths Lady'.

I liked the name The Coin Man, but had expected his story to come to the fore in the second half. Instead his part was not developed.

If you decide to rework it, I suggest you make it into two stories: the first in the form of a parable involving the Maths Lady, the Maths Man and The Coin Man.
And the second one simply about an old lady with Alzheimers.

All the best with it.

- NaomiM

mel.c at 22:20 on 18 November 2008  Report this post
Hi Keith, When i started reading, i was hooked on it almost immeadiately. I love the story of maths lady and maths man. What's with the oranges and apples, try and bring the coin man towards the end of maths ladies life to add depth and value into coin man's life. Then again i loved it all.

You have a natural talent on humour.
Go for it mate!!!!

Mel from professional writing class

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