The computer voice recited the number, and Colin pressed 1 to be connected immediately free of charge, and on the third ring, a girl picked up.
“Hello,” she said.
“Hi. This is Colin Singleton. Is—is, uh, Katherine there?”
“Speaking. What did you say your name was?”
“Colin Singleton. ”
“That’s so familiar,” she said. “Do I know you?”
“When you were in fourth grade, I may have been your boyfriend for about two weeks at a summer program for gifted children. ”
“Colin Singleton! Oh yeah! Wow. Of all people . . . ”
“Um, this is going to sound weird, but on a scale of one to five, how popular were you in fourth grade?”
“Uh, what?” she asked.
“And also do you have a brother who was into spelling bees?”
“Um, yeah, I do. Who is this?” she asked, suddenly sounding upset.
“This is Colin Singleton, I swear. I know it sounds weird. ”
“I was, I don’t know. I mean, I had a few friends. We were kinda nerdy, I guess. ”
“Okay. Thanks, Katherine. ”
“Are you, like, writing a book?”
“No, I’m writing a mathematical formula that predicts which of two people will end a romantic relationship and when,” he said.
“Um,” she answered. “Where are you, anyway? Whatever happened to you?”
“What happened, indeed,” he answered, and hung up.
“Well,” said Hassan. “Boy. She must think that you’re STARK RAVING BONKERS!”
But Colin was lost in thought. If Katherine III was who she claimed to be, and whom he remembered her to be, then what if. What if the formula—was right? He called her again.
“Katherine Mutsensberger,” he said.
“It’s Colin Singleton again. ”
“Oh. Um, hi. ”
“This is the last question I’ll ever ask you that sounds completely crazy, but did I by chance break up with you?”
“Um, uh-huh. ”
“Yeah. We were at a campfire sing-along and you came over to me in front of all my friends and said you’d never done this before, but you had to break up with me because you just didn’t think it was going to work long-term. That’s what you said. Long-term. God, I was devastated, too. I thought you hung the moon. ”