Solving for X is a close look at the problems in our lives we want to fix. In order to make those problems fundamental, and so universal, the narrator focuses first on the difficulties of story problem when she was a girl, and how her father tried to help her. In his mind, he was a good teacher, but the more pam can’t understand it the more stupid she feels and more frustrated her father gets.
At first, these calculations are low stakes, but as her life goes on she sees that the stakes change. They are higher. She can’t help but try and do the calculations that tell her if she will live to the next total solar eclipse in 2052. When she does this, she keeps coming back to the answer of–probably not.
This piece braids the chronology jumping from past to present, to a different past, and back again. Like much flash nonfic the math her father tried to teach her is an extended metaphor for not only aging but all the problems in her life that are inevitable and can’t be fixed.