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"John, we're going to have to speak to Darby again," Mrs. Grant said to her husband as soon as he walked through the door.
"Oh Lord, what has she done this time?" Mr. Grant wondered how often he had uttered that sentence since discovering that their daughter Darby was a super genius.
Mrs. Grant looked embarrassed. "They were talking about differences in objects when viewed from different angles in her science class, and…" She paused, remembering how embarrassed she had been when the principal chided her about Darby, not for the first time, by far.
"Darby told the class that men and women sure looked different without clothes on."
"Oh Lord," Mister Grant said again.
"John, I was never so embarrassed in my life. You're going to have to change the password again, and this time put one in the computer she can't crack with two taps on the keyboard."
"Darby can crack any password I can think up, probably with one tap." Mister Grant shucked his suit jacket and tie and headed for the liquor cabinet.
"Make me one, too," Mrs. Grant said.
Once they were seated on the couch with their scotch, diluted with very little water, Mister Grant was ready to talk. "How about if we threaten to take the computer away from her if she keeps going to sites where she isn't supposed to?"
"Do you think that's possible? She could probably build a miniature super computer from rubber bands and safety pins overnight, then disguise it as a hair ribbon."
"Where is she now?" Mister Grant asked.
"In her room. Studying something from a thick book with lots of squiggles I don't understand-and I'm a mathteacher!"
"Where did she get it?" Mister Grant asked, without thinking first. "She bought it. You're the one who thought it would be fun to teach Darby how the stock market works and how to patent her gadgets. Now she has more money than we do!"
Mister Grant shook his head, chuckling with admiration at the brilliance of their eleven year old daughter. The last time Darby had been tested, her intelligence registered so far off the scale that it was impossible for an ordinary person to understand just how smart she really was. "It's not funny, John! I'm the one who had to talk to Mrs. Anthony after this latest escapade."
"Mister Grant made calming motions with his hands. "All right, Annette, all right. I'll talk to her."
"We'll both talk to her," Mrs. Grant said firmly. She set her glass down and went to fetch their daughter.
• • •
Darby, in contrast to most girls her age, wore her hair short. She didn't like to waste time taking care of it when that time could be spent on much more interesting pursuits. She brushed bangs away from her forehead and seated herself across from her parents. "I know what this is about," she announced, trying to look contrite but doing a poor job of it. Her pretty, elfin features didn't lend themselves well to remorse over past deeds.
"I should hope so!" Mrs. Grant said.
"Let me handle this," Mister Grant said. He put a stern, fatherly expression on his face, but before he could say a word, Darby laughed.
"You're not really mad, are you?" she asked, but it was more of a statement. "I can tell, you know."
"How can you tell?" Mrs. Grant asked, even while wondering whether she really wanted to know or not.
"Oh, it's easy if you read enough articles on psychology. There's an awful lot of stuff it them that's wrong, though." Darby smiled at them. She loved both her parents even though they didn't understand the labyrinthine depths of her mental processes. Even she didn't understand how she did some things.
Mr. Grant sighed. "All right, Darby, but you still weren't supposed to undo the block I put on the computer, were you?"
"It wasn't much of a block."
Mr. and Mrs. Grant exchanged glances. Mister Grant turned back to his daughter. "Darby, suppose we just unplugged the computer for a while. How would that be?"
Darby eyed her father with a look he knew well, a quiet forceful stare entirely inappropriate for an eleven year old girl, especially a rather pretty one. "Daddy, you can't do that. I have to have the computer. How else would I learn all the things you and Mom don't know and the school doesn't teach?"
Mister Grant was finally forced to drop his gaze, but he still didn't relent. He felt sorry, but Darby had to have some kind of guidance.
Darby turned to her mother. "Mom, it's not like I'm really interested in that stuff. I just needed to see what men and women looked like naked for one of the questions I knew would be on the final for my psychology degree, that's all. It'll be three or four years prob'ly, before I'll start thinking seriously about sex. Anyway, most of that stuff is for men, not women. When I want to know something, I'll read about it."
Copyright © 2006 Darrell Bain