“Lin and Tyler are drawing circles. Tyler’s circle has twice the diameter of Lin’s circle. Tyler thinks that his circle will have twice the area of Lin’s circle as well. Do you agree with Tyler?” – Illustrative Mathematics Student Workbook (grade 7)

- - -

Priya and Lin decide to draw equilateral triangles. They want to use a double number line to calculate the relationship between the length of each side, and the area of the triangle.

“This is way more fun than at Tyler’s house,” admits Lin. “All he ever wants to do is draw circles.”

- - -

Jada has a new box of laundry soap that holds 25% more than the old box. The new box holds 2 kg. She suggests to Diego that they use a double number line to calculate how much laundry soap the old box held.

“Can’t you just look at the label?” asks Diego.

Jada darkens, but says nothing.

- - -

A soccer field is 120 yards long. Han is measuring the length of the field using a 30-foot tape measure.

“Lin stopped answering my texts,” complains Tyler as he walks alongside Han. “I think she’s talking to Diego.”

At the end of the field, Han frowns and stares perplexedly at the tape. “Crap. I only got 358 feet, 7 inches.”

Tyler brightens. “Let’s calculate the error, and then express the error as a percentage of the actual length of the field!”

Han nods enthusiastically. “And don’t worry about Diego. He’s with Jada.”

- - -

Priya invites Lin over for an afternoon of coloring hexagonal tiles in a grid. Each side of the hexagon has length n.

“I just don’t think,” says Lin, “that Tyler and I are right for each other. We can’t even agree on the relationship between the diameter and the area of a circle.”

“You are so right,” replies Priya encouragingly. “Forget about Tyler and his stupid circles.”

But secretly, Priya is delighted.

- - -

Diego and Jada are walking in the park when they happen upon a tree. “Let’s calculate its height!” exclaims Jada, retrieving a small protractor from her handbag.

Diego groans softly.

“What’s wrong?” asks Jada.

Diego pauses, searching for the right words. “I love how you get excited to compare the drainage rates of leaking water tanks, or draw line segments and then measure them with two different rulers. But it’s not the life that I want.”

There is pain in Diego’s eyes, and he hesitates. “Sometimes,” he admits, “I just don’t fit in. Because it’s not just you, it’s everyone we know. I feel like I’m somehow in the wrong story.”

Jada’s eyes moisten. “What is it that you want, Diego?”

Diego shrugs helplessly. “I just want to walk into a room unexpectedly and ask for a pen or a pencil, but in a different language.”

- - -

Tyler DMs Priya late at night. “u up?”

Priya puts down her tape diagram and answers, “lol yeah.”

Tyler takes a deep breath. “is lin mad at me”

Priya considers the question. “lol idk why”

Tyler is tapping quickly now. “its rly tense btwn us now ever since we argued about the area of a circle”

Priya waits.

Tyler continues. “anyway i feel like maybe u understand me better even tho we r different lmao”

Priya has been biding her time for this moment ever since third grade, when she and Tyler spent a sunlit afternoon dividing sticks into five parts and then distributing them amongst three friends.

With Lin out of the way, Priya makes her move.

- - -

Lin is seething. “Priya is such a conniving bitch. I can’t believe she stole my boyfriend.”

Jada’s eyes widen. “Priya’s with Tyler now?”

Lin curses and pulls an eighth of Bubba Kush from her purse. She sets one third aside, and offers half of the remainder to Jada. (Maybe not exactly half.)

They light up.

“I used to think,” says Lin, exhaling smoothly, “that Tyler and I were made for each other. We’d climb into a rowboat with a bottle of wine, and he’d row us out to the middle of a lake, and then we’d measure the depth of the lake — sometimes in metric.”

Jada nods sympathetically and takes another hit.

“But nowadays,” continues Lin, “all Tyler wants to do is sit at home and draw circles. Or else he’s out with Han, measuring soccer fields. So I confided in Priya — who I thought was my friend — that, yeah, I was a little bored with our relationship. And then,” she growls, “that sneaky little bitch moved in.”

Jada takes a long drag, and blows a smoke circle. She contemplates its circumference before speaking. “Diego and I split up again.”

Lin chuckles. “How many times have you guys broken up now?”

Jada tries to think. “Twice more than one-third of the total. But I swear this time is final. I’m turning 30 in two months. And I realize now that we want different things in life.”

A moment passes before Jada adds, “But you might be a good match for Diego.”

Lin taps out some ashes and tilts her head thoughtfully. “He is kind of cute. And you know I like guys with some height. How tall is Diego anyway — about x centimeters?”

“Even taller,” Jada replies. “x + 4.”