## Fractions and Maths, Sweet Companions

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Annabel wasn’t worried that her parents wouldn’t react well, really. On the contrary, unlike many other people in the school whose parents tried to set up marriages and pressured their children into finding someone of high status so as to raise their own family’s status and importance, her parents actively discouraged her from all of that.

“Your only worth is what you achieve for yourself in this life. You can waste time on frivolous things when you’ve made a name for yourself.”

“Children are not what achievers need. Your friend won’t be coming over again.”

“Annabel, there’s the people who settle down, who content themselves with having a large brood of children, and there’s the people who rise above that, who do great things for themselves. I expect you to be a person of the second caliber.”

Shaking the fragments of memory from her head, Annabel took a deep breath to steady herself. She could do this, she could. Hopefully. She opened the door to the parlor where her parents were taking a short rest and took a tentative step inside. As she walked closer to them, her feet sinking into the plush carpet, she started to speak.

“Mother? Father? I… um… have something to tell you.”

“Did you win some academic competition?”

“Um… no”

“Did you invent something?”

“I didn’t.”

“Did you make a new discovery?”

“No…”

“Then, what is it, Annabel?”

“I, kinda, sorta, actually wanted to tell you that I’ve figured something out about myself…”

“Oh, that’s nice.” her father said absently. He’d already gone back to his paper.

“Anyways,” she continued, her voice probably a bit louder than it should have been, “I just wanted to tell you that I’m asexual. So, yeah…” She trailed off awkwardly, waiting for her parents’ response.

“Wait a minute. How did you figure this out, exactly? Have you been fooling around with people?”

Her cheeks felt like they were on fire.

“No, Mother! It’s nothing like that. I swear! It’s just, you know, my thoughts around sex, I guess? And,” she continued, her voice dropping to an embarrassed whisper, “I’ve tried masturbating once or twice. It didn’t really feel good…”

She chanced a glance back up and found a small pleased smile spreading across her father’s face.

“That’s very good, actually.”

“Really?”

“Well, of course!” her mother cut in. “Not being interested in sex means that there’s just one less thing to distract you, and allows you to spend more time on the important things in life.” By the important things, she didn’t mean maybe falling in love with someone, developing her artistic talents, maybe even spending a lazy Saturday in the hills outside the city. Of course not. Why would she? Annabel thought wryly. No, on the contrary, it was all science, mechanics, maths, no time for anything else.

“That’s true… I suppose…”

“Of course it is.” her father, having his attention solely focused on her for once, stated. “You wouldn’t believe how much brain power is wasted every day by one’s base desires.”

“Good girl.” her mother murmured, giving Annabel a quick hand squeeze. “You did good today.”

Her hand felt cold and clammy, or maybe that was just Annabel projecting outwards. She didn’t know why she’d dared to hope for anything else. Of course they wouldn’t want to talk to her about it as a person, say that they were so happy she’d decided to tell them, that they’d always love her. No, they only cared about her sexuality insofar as it fit with their goals of the perfect daughter. She was so stupid. She tugged her hand out of her mother’s grip. “Um, I’m sorry, I have to go… science, inventions, you know? I think I’m close to a breakthrough. So, yeah, gotta go!” As she exited, not quite running, Annabel let out a breath that she didn’t even know she’d been holding. Sinking into a hidden nook, she clutched her arms around her knees and sighed. “Well, that couldn’t have gone worse.”