In My Prime


Mitchell Mawhinney, of Wakatipu High School, won the junior section (year 9-11) of the Dan Davin short story competition.

Hello, my name is James, and some people think I'm weird. I don't see why though, I just think they are all stupid.

Apparently, I don't act like I should, just another manipulative theory of my psychologist. I don't care what people think about me, all I care about is school work, specifically science and math. I know pi to twenty four places, every single element of the periodic table, and all prime numbers up to one thousand two hundred. I am fifteen years old, but I wish I could be seventeen, because it's a prime number.

I woke up this morning to the call of my mother.

"Honey your three (prime number) egg whites mixed with half a teaspoon of pepper and a quarter teaspoon of chilli powder are ready."

"Are you forgetting something?" I ask as politely as possible.

"I don't think so," she replied.

Useless, she is. Can't even get it right when I told her just yesterday at 8.07pm.

"My milk, mother, warmed to twenty three degrees!" (I don't like it when it's too cold and it's also a prime number).

"Sorry dear," she said, unenthusiastically.

"You do realise I am getting better at reading the tones of people's voices mother? Jenny (my psychologist) is teaching me about that at the moment."

"That's great," she said, but this time I couldn't read the tone of her voice.

"Hurry up or you will be late," Mother exclaimed.

"I know mother, but I really don't see the point in getting on that filthy bus again, I swear, yesterday, I found an empty chip packet in my seat. It was disgusting."

"That's horrible dear," she said with what I guessed was a hint of sarcasm. "But you won't be able to get to school otherwise."

I sighed loudly before exiting the house. I hate travelling on the bus. So many numb minded yet innocent little idiots screeching loudly about some clearly pointless "normal person" stuff. I felt sorry for them all, school is a place for learning, and in my opinion, a good day at school starts with a good, educational bus ride. Sick of all the noise, I stuck my earphones in and listened to a recording I made of every element of the periodic table, followed by all prime numbers up to 400. If I was to be asked a question, which was often the case, I had to be ready.

My education was unfortunately cut short, due to the fact that Tim, the poor child I felt most sorry for, pulled out my earphones.

"Give them back please, Tim," I said calmly, like Jenny taught me.

"Why would I do that , nerd," Tim stuttered.

"Because they are mine, Tim," I stated. What an idiot, this is basic stuff.

"They're mine now," Tim said confidently.

"No, they are still mine, in order for them to be yours, I would have to willingly give them to you, which, as far as I know, I haven't done," I said slowly, as I wasn't sure he was taking it all in.

"Well I don't care," Tim shouted, clearly frustrated. Most eyes on the bus were watching our feud by now.

"Well, Tim, if you don't care, could I please have my earphones back?" I asked cheekily. A few snickers were heard around the bus.

"I hate you," he said, before reluctantly handing the earphones back.

Jenny taught me that although my condition makes me not very "socially acceptable" (whatever that means), it does help in the sense that my immense amount of logic makes me very hard to verbally bully.

An exciting bus ride had come to an end, and I was ready for a day at school. First up I had physical education, my least favoured subject, a subject which teaches kids nothing except how to skip a rope and that they all look ridiculous in the PE uniform, two things I could easily live life without knowing. Lucky for me, my good friend Tim was in my PE class.

"Hey buddy," Tim said as he pushed me to the ground of the changing room.

"Hello Tim," I said, not fazed by the situation.

"What a great bus ride," he said over- enthusiastically, advancing on me slowly.

"It was for me, but I don't see why it would have been great for you," I said innocently.

"Yes . . . that's what I was . . . oh never mind," he said, still advancing.

At that moment, my PE teacher Mr Fulton came through the door of the changing room, with his normal stern look on his face.

"Are we almost done here boys?" he asked with a straight face.

"I think I am," I said, "But Tim appears to be having some trouble finding his gear. Give me twenty nine seconds."

Mr Fulton nodded before walking out of the room, and exactly twenty nine seconds later, so did I.

PE was pretty normal, poor children sucked into the thought that PE actually mattered, what a joke. After PE was first break, a time of fun and laughter, a time that all the children were, "set free" from their cages, not for me. For me, it was straight to the science lab, so I could get in some learning and revision time before the next class. I am very serious about learning, and for some reason, that is considered a problem. I seriously worry about this country and its preposterous stereotypes. My science class unfortunately just happened to be a social hub for my year, making it very hard to concentrate on my learning. The chattering droning on and on in my ears, bangs and crashed, people disrespecting others in every way possible, eventually I could take no more.

"Shut up!" I shouted. A silence fell over the room. I heard a few snickers and mutters before a voice piped up.

"Why should we?" asked Mr Thick as a Brick, oblivious to the world idiot, Tim.

"Because you are all a bunch of idiots!" I shouted, letting my thoughts out.

"I think you're the idiot, you weirdo," said Tim.

"Don't be preposterous, Tim, you wouldn't know a simple math equation if it slapped you in the face, can you please tell me, Tim, what is forty plus one hundred and twenty two!?" I asked, knowing what his answer would be.

"I don't care abo-"

I cut him off. "You don't care about school, you're going to be a famous guitar player, well let me tell you now, Tim, your guitar playing sounds like a cat on fire, with its tail being pulled off, and quite frankly, that's an insult to the cat."

Tim was visibly shaken at this point. (Jenny taught me how to read body language). The Principal came barging through the door of the lab, and pulled me away but I didn't care, I had left my mark, and if I were to give it a mark out of ten, it would be an eleven, because that's the closest prime number.

"What happened in there? Mr Skidder asked.

"Do you like prime numbers, Mr Skidder?" I asked.

"Yes," Mr Skidder responded.

"So do I," I said. "Do you think I'm weird, Mr Skidder?"

"No James, I think you're unique," he comforted.

My mother walked into the room and hugged me.

"Can we go now?" she asked politely.

"Sure thing," Mr Skidder said, "But James, just remember, your knowledge is a gift, choose to use it for good, don't bother wasting it on people who aren't interested in education."

"Ok, Mr Skidder," I said happily, before making my way out of the room.

"Mother, guess what?" I asked rhetorically. "Mr Skidder says I'm not weird, I'm unique!"

"That's great, honey," she said with absolute happiness, something I hadn't heard her sound in a long time.

"Mother?" I asked. "Do you like prime numbers?"



Went on to become a professional mathematician, also gaining a PhD in philosophy. Was the man who figured out the pattern of prime numbers.

James' Mother

Went on the live a long, happy life, supported by her child.


Went on to become a low class musician, playing guitar for his pub band, "The Elements" - a name inspired by the periodic table/James.

The Southland Times