Imperfect Chemistry - A Romantic Comedy by Mary Frame

Lucy is a socially awkward genius who must learn about passion to avoid losing her grant.

Jensen is her neighbor and the one person she finds remotely appealing.

When Lucy and Jensen start making chemistry of their own, she must decide what's more important, analyzing her passions or giving into them?


There are many theories that attempt to explain why humans cry in response to heightened emotions. One states that weeping serves as a signaling function, letting other humans know the emotional condition being experienced with the hopes of contriving an altruistic response in the viewer. Another theory is that crying serves a biochemical function, releasing toxins from the body and reducing stress. Some scientists have found that tears may contain a chemosignal, and when men sniff women’s tears, they display reduced levels of testosterone and sexual arousal.
None of these theories explain why I, a twenty-year-old female, experience extreme anxiety and a desperate desire to get as far away as possible when people cry in my general vicinity.
“Are you even listening to me?”

Today’s client is Freya Morgan, a sophomore at the university, who recently dissolved a relationship. She’s pre-law, and her file indicates a fairly high GPA. I have hopes she will be more logical than emotional. She hasn’t cried yet, but I’m 83% certain she will. Studies have shown that women cry thirty to sixty-four times per year. That’s approximately once every twelve days, on the low side.
“Yes.” I glance at my notes. “You engaged in coitus with your partner and then he stopped communicating with you.”
She sits up slightly from the position she threw herself into when she entered the room, lying across the small sofa, and offers me a frown that puts a wrinkle in her forehead. She’s shorter than me, small enough to lie down on the couch that’s only about five feet long.
“Does that mean he went down on me? Because that’s not what we did. I mean, we did that, too, but that’s not what I said.”
“Coitus is sexual intercourse. I believe what you are referring to is cunnilingus.”
“Right.” She nods after a small hesitation and then lies back down with a gusty sigh. “Where was I?”
“He stopped communicating with you.”
“Yes!” She punctuates the word with a finger thrust in my direction although her gaze remains fixed on the ceiling above her. “But that’s not all. When he wouldn’t answer my texts, I went to his dorm and guess who was in there?”
I tilt my head, wondering, is that a rhetorical question?
It must be, because she’s speaking again quickly. “Liz. Liz was in there and she was moaning and screaming like she was giving birth to a goat. One with horns.”
“That’s an interesting metaphor. Perhaps his advances were unwanted?”
She snorts a laugh. “She’s been trying to bag him for months!” Her voice softens. “But I thought he was better than that. I thought I was better than that.”
I’m amazed at how quickly she goes from indignant to depressed. I jot that down in my notes. Bipolar?
“Liz is a friend?” I ask.
“Hell, no, Liz is a total skank. She sleeps with anyone who has a pulse, guys, girls, whatever.”
Whatever? I wonder what that encapsulates, but think it’s best to stick to the topic at hand. “Okay. What about the gentleman in question, Cameron?” I clarify the name she stated earlier.
“Did you confront him regarding his behavior?”
Another heavy sigh. “Yes.”
“And he’s a douchebag. He tried to deny it, but then I showed him the video.”
“You obtained video of his transgression?”
“Yeah.” She inspects her fingernails. “On my phone. They were so loud they didn’t hear me open the door. I got the key from the RA.”
“How did you…” I’m interested in how she accomplished such a feat, but it’s not as important as why she’s here in the first place. I have to stay on track. This exact topic was discussed with me previously by Duncan, the head of the psychology department and the person overseeing the progress on my experiment. Or lack thereof.
I didn’t necessarily want to work in the peer counseling clinic, but one of the stipulations of the grant required that I put in the same number of hours as the graduate students. I was assured that my doctorate in immunology and pathogens more than made me suitable for the position, but since I started, I’ve been counseled on my own behavior nearly every day. I was told to use this as an opportunity to examine emotions and understand the underlying impetus of the passions people experience, since that is the basis of the grant: emotion as a pathogen, how emotion is transmitted from one person to another.
So far, it’s not working.

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