Her Place in the Universe

Inspired by this week’s writing challenge: Know thyself. A common axiom, it’s a phrase that can carry many meanings, ranging from know who you are to know your place in the universe.

“Come on, Alexis, you’re halfway through. Focus now.” the school psychologist prompted.

Sixteen year-old Alexis yawned and did a full body stretch in her chair. She was attempting another question on what seemed like a very long psychological assessment for the new IEP1 for school. She dreaded wordy questions and reading comprehension problems were always a severe strain for her. In 30 minutes, she had only completed 5 questions out of 50 so far.

Was it lunch time yet? She checked her watch, as she did every five minutes, and averted her eyes from the psychologist. She didn’t immediately know the answers to all these questions and didn’t quite understand them. Her mind started to wander and she began to fidget in her seat.

She flopped off her seat and onto the floor.

“Get up off the floor, Alexis,” the psychologist warned. “You still have 30 more minutes to complete the test.” She made a note in her binder.

“I’m going to miss Algebra,” Alexis complained to the psychologist, as she settled back into her seat. She hunched over her shoulders and folded her arms on the desk, her head hanging low. The assessment was not going well as far as Alexis was concerned and she wanted to return to her classroom. She checked her watch again and tapped the pencil on the desk.

Gordian's knot puzzle
Gordian’s knot puzzle

Finally, the hour of testing was done and although Alexis had only completed less than half of the questions, she was allowed to return to her regular class. It was Advanced Algebra, her favorite subject.

Alexis enjoyed all her math classes. They were logical and therefore easy. Quadratic equations, logarithims, and matrices were topics she understood. Manipulating numbers and formulas and solving the problem was just as easy to her as solving a Gordian’s knot puzzle. Well, in her mind, anyway. She loved 3 dimensional puzzles and spent her time unwinding by assembling and dissembling advanced Hanayama brain-teaser puzzles.

The results of the psychological assessment would reveal that Alexis was well below-average in reading comprehension and expressive language, but showed superior-level skills in her mathematical ability. She would require special assistance in all written language classes.

On any given day, Alexis would rather have to deal with Algebra and Physics all day than be subjected to explaining Hamlet’s soliloquy or writing an essay on what she did for summer vacation. Or speaking to anyone in school, for that matter.

This was her place in the universe. In years to come she would put her math skills to use on the space program, in a laboratory that required little interpersonal skills, but advanced algebraic ability. Her calculations and puzzle-solving techniques would gain her international fame, when she correctly calculated and located one of the lost moons of Neptune in 2027. NASA named the newly found moon “Alexis.”


  1. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability. 
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8 thoughts on “Her Place in the Universe

  1. I featured the Desiderata in my own posts awhile back. It was my favorite poster on an old-fashioned tea-stained background. It is an excellent way to live and glad you are letting your fellow readers know about this fine writing. I liked your focus on Alexis’ perspective and attitude expressed here, too! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

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