My Heart is a Quadratic Equation
by Shane Halbach
“So, uh, Chrysanthemum, what do you do?”
“Science. You know…science stuff. I’m a scientist.”
“That’s…not very specific.”
“Well, it’s kind of hard to explain,” said Chrysanthemum. In words you’d understand she added to herself.
She used the lull in the conversation to take a pen out of her pocket. Idly she doodled the inside of a hydrogen-powered rocket on a spare cocktail napkin. It was a nice restaurant, she’d give him that. He’d even ordered wine. Big spender. She added an extra fin to her schematic, for stability.
He broke the silence. “Chrysanthemum is an unusual name.”
“The Chrysanthemum is in the Asteraceae family and has been cultivated in Japan for over 2,000 years.”
Brian coughed and looked down at the table, quiet once more.
Turn off the mouth, she thought, this is not how normal people talk.
She stole quick glances at him, her eyes flicking back and forth between his face and the pen in her hand. He was clean cut, with short brown hair. By the way it was carefully styled, she guessed he didn’t keep it short for the convenience, the way she kept her own black hair short. He was taller than she was, but then she was petite. His nose was a bit on the large side, but at least he seemed nice. It would probably be an adequate genetic pairing, if she didn’t mind inane small talk.
He took a breath and waded in again.
“Have you always lived in the city?”
“Yes,” she replied glumly. This is intolerable. How do people do this?
This time the silence stretched on and on, like time in a black hole as it approached singularity. Her mind groped for something to say.
“I’ve created a nuclear-based energy weapon,” she blurted out.
Brian raised his hand.