The Square on the Hypotenuse by Sarah Mosedale

Creative Nonfiction

Black objects absorb heat better than white ones. The sun is approximately 93 million miles away. The square on the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares on the other two sides. But only in a right angled triangle. Don’t rely on that rule if you find yourself in an isosceles triangle or, worse, a circle. Then you’d never get out. Or know if your car would make it assuming the petrol tank is leaking at 25 millilitres per second, your maximum speed is 20 mph and the nearest garage is closed.

My brother is three years younger than me. I haven’t seen him since my mother’s funeral ten years ago. My sister was nine years younger than me. She took her own life four years ago. Do the arithmetic. Who didn’t go to whose funeral? Do you have enough information?

Elephants never forget. Goldfish forget everything every ten seconds. That’s what I’ve been told anyway. Which would you rather? Bee or a wasp? Sorry that’s my father sneaking in again, terrible man for his puns. My father died twelve years ago. He had a strong heart so it took him a very long time to forget everything. When he forgot how to swallow we let him go. My brother came to his funeral. So did my sister. My mother didn’t. But she was unwell and the funeral was far away. My parents got divorced a very long time ago. Is any of this of any interest? Discuss.

The universe started with a big bang. Or was it just one in an infinite series of big bangs? In which case what does starting mean? If the tortoise gets a head start, who wins, the tortoise or the hare? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. But curiosity killed the cat. And faith can move mountains. Though there appears to be no peer-reviewed, authoritatively verified evidence that it ever has.

Get the facts. That was my father’s mantra. I can still hear him say it, head doggedly down, using his deepest register and great emphasis. Let’s – get – the – facts! He was a physical scientist. Could you guess? He also did a yogic headstand every morning, was a jazz saxophonist and wasn’t averse to getting stoned from time to time. Bet you didn’t guess that, did you. You didn’t have enough information.

Sarah Mosedale, a recent convert from academia to the joys of creative writing, especially flash, has been longlisted for both Flash 400 and Flash 500. She also enjoys open mic and has performed her work at Verbose and That’s What She Said in Manchester, UK, where she lives. Twitter: @mosed14