A Typical Afternoon at the Neutron Abode
"Dad, will you please put some pants on? We have company." Jimmy walked into his house only to be greeted by the sight of his father doing strange stretches in front of the TV in only his button-down shirt and boxers. Jimmy shook his head in disbelief as Cindy stood next to him, smirking.
"No can do Jimbo; they're in the wash. Besides, it's much easier to do tai chi this way. Say Cindy you do that, don't you? Can you help me figure out how to balance in the crane position?"
"Sure Mr. N." She walked over to where he stood. "Try keeping your weight over the ball of your foot instead of your heel…and keep your left knee level with your hip."
While she continued, Jimmy walked into the kitchen where his mother was unloading the dishwasher.
"Sweetie, is there someone here?"
She eyed him knowingly. "Say no more. I'll make sure your father stays down here."
"It's not like that, mom. We're just doing homework."
"Oh, is that what the kids are calling it these days?"
"Oh you know I'm teasing. I'll bring you some snacks in a little while."
He muttered a thank you and walked back into the living room. Cindy and his father were standing with their knees bent, moving their arms in a pattern.
"Now remember to keep your center of gravity low in order to decrease postural problems."
"Cindy, are you coming?"
"Yeah," she returned to a normal stance then picked up her book bag. "Don't forget to do the other side too Mr. N."
"Will do! Thanks"
The two walked up the stairs to Jimmy's room.
As she entered through the door to the blue bedroom, Cindy couldn't help but think about how different this family was from hers. She couldn't picture her dad doing anything in his underwear, let alone when there was someone at the house; and there was absolutely no way her mother would be cool with them doing homework in her room. She loved her parents, but sometimes she wished that they could have a relaxed relationship like this.
Jimmy set his bag down. "So what do you want to work on first: psych or chemistry?"
She sat down on the edge of his bed. "I suppose chemistry. It will take me the longest."
"Are you having trouble with thermo?"
She didn't want to look at him. "I suppose."
He sat down next to her. "I'm not going to make fun of you, Cindy. This stuff is difficult." She shot him a yeah right look. "Hey, I had trouble with solubility equilibrium. Even we geniuses struggle…occasionally."
She chuckled. "Ok, well can you explain when you use heat of fusion versus heat of vaporization?"
Thirty minutes later, Cindy finally finished. "So because the delta S is negative and the delta H is also negative, it's spontaneous at low temperatures?"
"Yup, and that's the last of them."
She smiled. "Thank you. This makes perfect sense now."
"You've probably just been too busy to study it long enough. Speaking of which," he looked up at her, "Shouldn't you be at…something?"
"Trying to get rid of me, eh?" she shot him a sly smile.
"No, no, I just meant-"
"Due to all the rain, the soccer field is unusable for a few days and I don't have to teach this week. Judo's not until six and my mother is at work." She scooted closer. "So I have the whole afternoon free."
"Oh really?" He smiled. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"I might be." He leaned into her, and she held up the psychology book. "Now we can cover memory processes all the way to distortion."
"Why do you have to do that?"
There was a knock at the door. "Because apparently I'm psychic."
Jimmy got up to open the door. Mrs. Neutron came in holding a tray.
"How's everything going kids? I brought you some cheese and crackers. There would have been pie, but I left your father alone for twenty minutes and you know how that always ends." She turned to Cindy. "You'd probably like something with more protein anyway; you have…kendo tonight?"
"Right, right; Jimmy said it was some sort of martial arts."
"Did he now?" I wonder what else he's told you.
"Oh, while I'm here: is there anything I should take into account for dinner on Saturday? Any allergies or preferences?"
"Well mom's been trying to cut back on pork products due to the high sodium content, and if there are onions on anything, we're all in for an unpleasant evening of criticism … and dad can't have pine nuts."
"Noted; I'll try to keep everything above par."
Cindy winced. "Would it help if I said, coming from her that's a compliment?"
"Oh, I've come to expect as much from dear Sasha. Let's just hope the meal keeps her happy long enough to…" She looked up and seemed to trail off.
Cindy turned her head to see Jimmy's widened eyes.
"Well, I'd better switch over the laundry. See you later Cindy." And with that, she left.
"What was that about?"
"Look, let's just study for the psychology test."
Fortunately, Cindy didn't press the matter anymore. I can't believe mom almost spilled the beans. He didn't want Cindy to know that his parents knew about their…arrangement. Not yet anyways; she wouldn't be happy about it.
They went over cognitive processes for about an hour, until Cindy finally looked up at the clock. "I'd better go, I need to get changed and have enough time to warm up."
"Yeah, I need to finish my paper on Macbeth."
She let out a sigh of disbelief. "You haven't finished yet? It's due tomorrow."
"Just my conclusion! And maybe some more analysis…some of us don't have a great love for Shakespeare."
"Oh, but you once played the title character!"
He let out a groan, remembering the play from elementary school. "Man, I don't know what principal Willoughby was on when he wrote that script, but it was not Macbeth."
"Not even…no. Just….no." He shook his head.
She laughed. "Well, I gotta go." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "See you tomorrow."
"Bye." He waved as she walked out the door.
Days like today were part of the reason why Saturday needed to go well. Days like today were a rare thing that could only be enjoyed when Cindy was free and Mrs. Vortex was far away. But they were still great. Just think what our brilliant minds could accomplish if allowed to collaborate. Uh-huh, I'm sure 'collaboration' is the only thing on your mind regarding her. Shut up.
He needed Mrs. Vortex's blessing to date Cindy. And you'll get it. Nothing can go wrong.
He repeated this over and over in his mind, and by the time he went to sleep Thursday night, he almost believed it.