common denominator by LydiaJayne

1 Mar

“Not  everyone is as intellectually gifted as you are, Sweetie,” Her older sister managed to sound patient rather than patronizing, for which Samantha was grateful.

“It’s not that.  She’s very bright: she read the entire encyclopaedia, the one we bought her when she started middle school.  She read it for fun last month.  Then she corrected a number of entries with updated information she found online.  She just hates math.”

“It’s not a crime, Sam,” Joyce, having an artist temperament herself, replied defensively.

“I know!  But…. I was so jealous when she and Marty would go off on their father/daughter adventures.  It’s mean, and it’s petty, but after the divorce, when I was granted custody, I was grateful for the chance to spend time with her without competing for her attention with the cool parent.  Only now, I don’t know what to do.  We have nothing in common.

“I’m a mathematician, Joyce. PhDs in two separate branches of math.  In my spare time, I enjoy suduko, kakuro,  and the occasional poker tournament.  The only card game she likes, the cards have letters on them.  It’s like portable Scabble.” Joyce winced, knowing full well how much Sam hated games that required she attempt to spell.

“Once we’ve covered what happened at school and the weather, there’s nothing left.” Sam was losing her battle with tears and got up for a tissue.

Quiet footsteps in the hall carpet were masked by the sound of a chair scraping on the kitchen floor.   Joyce crossed over to her younger sister, holding her as she fell apart.

“You’ll figure it out.  You always do, Sammy. After all, you’ve managed to talk to me for years, and I don’t know anything about math.”

Sam coughed to keep from choking as her sob became a half laugh.


The next morning, Sam dropped her sister off at the airport, detoured past the grocery store, and returned home resolved to find some way to connect with her daughter.  She had nothing resembling a plan, but Joyce had been confident that she could manage, and Sam was determined.

She carried her bags to the kitchen but stopped short at the sight of Cassie sitting at the kitchen table shuffling cards.  The regular ones, with numbers.

“Hey, Mom.” Her greeting was deliberately casual, but Sam could tell she was trying to hide nervous tension. “Want to teach me to play poker?”

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4 Responses to “common denominator by LydiaJayne”

  1. juleshg March 1, 2010 at 1:55 am #

    Kudos to you! It never occurred to me that Sam would be a woman.

  2. jadamthwaite March 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    I like this take on it, the idea that Sam felt she had nothing in common with her daughter because of the maths issue. And I’m pleased Cassie is making an effort 🙂

  3. jmforceton March 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    I think you show the idea that we all are thinking all the time, just in different directions. As long as we are willings to change a bit, we can relate to anyone, particularly family.

  4. phoenix.writing March 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    I really liked the image of Cassie reaching out at the end, clearly picking what she thinks is the least of the possible evils and trying to find a way for her mom and her to connect.

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