We recently published Laila Amado’s heartbreaking “Advanced Math for the Sleepless.”

Here, we ask her two questions about her story:

1) This is such a great hermit crab flash — the calculations and figures seem so authentic here, making this tragedy a problem you must “solve.” What made you choose this particular form for this particular story?
To be honest, I don’t remember making a conscious choice. When writing flash fiction, it is rarely a matter of rational choice for me. A story begins to spin out from the first sentence that comes to mind, often something that sounds like a character’s voice. In some instances, the voice is so clear that the story, at least its first draft, is written in one sitting. This was the case here. A story also often draws on bits and pieces of personal experiences, including things that have never been fully processed. Like loss. In a sense, this is a story of processing loss through distancing. A logical, analytic mind trying to grapple with the unthinkable by creating a network of formulas, a supporting structure, around this internal catastrophe.


2) The opening sequence is one of my favorite parts of this story, all that math to figure out the odds of meeting the love of your life, but, obviously, the narrator does. Really, what do you think are the odds of that?
I love the idea that we are all made of stardust. The odds of meeting another constellation of star matter, recognizing each other as partners, consciously working towards each other’s happiness and not messing it all up anywhere in the process. The odds of that are weighted on some sort of a cosmic scale. In the words of Galileo Galilei, mathematics is the language of the universe and its creation. I guess it is also fitting to consider it the language of love that can express the odds of both happiness and heartbreak it can bring us.

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