You don’t count the zero

Tonight during my shower, two characters were having a discussion in my head about how to count anniversaries in relation to an actual count if things.  It’s easy with birthdays or anniversaries of events, but when you’re talking about actual items you can count as well, it can get confusing.

For example, the first day of the tenth graduating class from a high school only marks the ninth anniversary of the opening of the school.  The first day of the first graduating class is the event being remembered, but the class gets a count of its own as well.  The first class is the start, or the zero if you will, so while there are ten classes there are only nine anniversaries.

If you didn’t follow that, don’t blame me.  I told you it could be confusing.

Now, my characters aren’t debating high school anniversaries; they’re actually discussing young women sacrificed annually to a dragon.  (I started the above example thinking that something real-world would be less convoluted.  That didn’t work so well.)  The thirteenth sacrifice means that it’s been going on for twelve years, because you don’t count the first girl as a year.  (She’s the start, the zero, the event being remembered.)

The really irritating thing about this conversation, besides the confusing reality of the talk itself, is that these are not characters from any of my current stories.  No, these are new characters that I created a few nights ago to help me sleep.  They don’t even have names, just Dragon Master and Sacrifice Thirteen.  Usually (although not always) my sleep-aid characters stay just that.  Their stories are simple, straightforward, and only exist to keep the work hamsters quiet.  I shouldn’t be surprised, though; two of the characters in Dragon started out the same way, and look where that led!

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