White Rock Evening

White Rock Evening

Sam Woodbeck


One. One. Two. Three. Five. Eight. Thirteen.

No, no, no, that was too predictable.


One was a good place to start, but had too many quandaries in his own right. One was certainly male: his upright glyph’s shaft was undeniable phallic, and the Nagari and Nepali’s One even resembled a swimming sperm. And like a man, One was always getting involved in things where he had no impact or just lived as an unruly, useless exception. Perhaps he was judging One too harshly, but his cynical taint had crept out of the normal world and into his mathematical realm. Or was it the other way around?

The barista sighed impatiently while the man obliviously scanned the coffee charts and maps. Suddenly realizing where he was, the man awkwardly mumbled an order for coffeenocreamnosugarplease. He fumbled with a few grubby dollars and change.

Two. Two was his favorite. The only even prime. The first non-trivial number, or at the very least the first number that began to obey “normal math” to him. Two existed where he imagined he existed: right on the cusp. Two still played by the rules, but was a strange exception in his own right. He was self-contained and remained himself no matter how many operations were applied to him. Two lived in the world, but set himself up as the iconoclast. Two was still a number but bellowed at the others and spun his dynamo of destruction as they relied on him. Maybe he was embellishing a bit again with romantic dark imagery of Two. Two was what he identified with, even if his attribution to it was myopic and self-absorbed.

Three was as anomalous as One and Two. What business had Three being prime after two such strange and interesting numbers like One and Two? Three should be soluble, he thought. He was embarrassed to admit that Three was female, as he held so much hostility and resentment against it. After all, he was no misogynist. Was is it his fault that Three just happened to be female and just happened to be so at fault?

The barista coughed with the man’s coffee in his hand. The man gazed quietly at it for a minute until the mouth prompted, “Sir?” The man took the coffee from the five fingers.

The barista coughed with the man’s coffee in his hand. The man gazed quietly at it for a minute until the mouth prompted, “Sir?” The man took the coffee from the five fingers.

Five finally skipped over a lesser number, making him victorious and valiant in the most unimportant way, like a self-mutilator was victorious over his wounds. While he floated above Four (Four itself deeply rooted in Two’s furious base,) he still knew he was at the bottom of things. Primary and uninteresting, smug and selfish, insistent and brazen. He wasn’t sure if he liked Five.

But Eight. Eight was the first one out. Eight, like Four, caught up in the dissonance left screaming in Two’s wake, failed to impact him in any way. Eight was clean, even elegant, and yet it was still boring. It didn’t even merit gender.

He plopped himself down on the nearest paisley sofa, took off the lid of his coffee and let it cool while he looked around the room.

No. If he was going to do this, it had to be in a unique, insightful way. He had to be Two: accessible but totally his own.

One. One. Two.

No change yet. Isn’t it strange, he thought, that even trying to erect the most stolid, excepting wall, so little changed in the beginning. The results only change in the details. The story was always the same.

Can’t be this dismissive yet. Keep it going, see where it goes.

Two. Three. Five.

Still no change.

Thirteen. There was the first difference.


And suddenly it began leaping by. All the meticulous control, analysis, observance, and concern planted in the beginning just vanished, outpaced before he could sit down and even try to analyze it.

Two hundred thirty-three. One thousand five hundred ninety-seven.

But there was something freeing about letting it grow wildly unimpeded. His control and character had shaped it initially, and it still grew from these roots, but now it twisted and sprouted in unimaginable ways. He was powerless but to watch it grow and marvel at it.

Twenty-eight thousand six hundred fifty-seven. How could something so complex and delicious seem at once so anonymous?

Five hundred fourteen thousand two hundred twenty-nine. The patterns kept repeating but he could no longer see them.

Four hundred thirty-three million four hundred ninety-four thousand four hundred thirty-seven. That one had taken him a while. The content spiraled on and his will no longer carried him.

His coffee was cold.

“Sir? We’re closing.”

All rights reserved to Sam Woodbeck

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