An eerie orange glow shone through my closed eyelids. The temperature of the room was warm, but not intolerable like I remembered. I heard the muffled melody of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” in the background and wondered if I was in purgatory.
I sat upright and opened my eyes. I was surprised to find myself in my dorm. Sunlight flooded the room through cracked blinds and cast unique silhouettes on my walls. Rosie the Riveter gazed down at me with cold eyes, her misshapen face now almost tauntingly phlegmatic.
After examining my hands I gasped at the sight of my now green-tinted palms. I automatically recalled yesterday’s occurrences: the spilling of the fairy dust; my unjustified chiding of the DSC instrument; and my bizarre experience being crystallized on a life-size thermocouple. “Perhaps the green tint is my body’s response to my wounds healing,” I assured myself. “Certainly! It’s like a contusion; I’m merely black-and-blue. Err, black-and-green.”
I sprang up from my bed and got ready for research. I subconsciously picked out green skinny jeans from my closet, my favorite “I’m uncertain about quantum mechanics” tee-shirt, and my usual gray converse and cat eye liquid eyeliner. Despite the summer heat, I threw on a pair of plaid fingerless gloves to conceal my discolored hands. I figured no one would question the gloves because I already held an idiosyncratic “hipster-esque” fashion presence on campus. I was ready in ten minutes and darted out the room to Starbucks. Caffeine was an addiction that I had no intention of kicking, despite yesterday’s espresso woes.
Leslie, the chemistry majoring barista who took my order yesterday, made my usual iced skinny caramel macchiato. I expected that Kevin had informed Dr. S of my minor breakdown the other day, so I was in no hurry to recommence my DSC experiments. I sat down at one of the high tables in the cafe and chatted with Leslie about the new quantum tunnel, taking bites from my everything bagel during pauses in the conversation. Apparently, Leslie helped paint the mural with the ACS student chapter. “You have to see it!” she enthused, twisting strands of her strawberry blonde hair around her index finger. “They have the half-dead cat, the quantum postulates, everything! You must see it.”
Slightly taken aback by Leslie’s zeal, I promised her I’d take a look at the tunnel during a research break and then left for the chemistry building. “Let’s do this!” I cried, strolling into the TCNJ science complex. “Today is going to be a great day!”
I strolled into Dr. S’s office and was ready to explain what happened yesterday when he handed me a stack of papers. “These should help guide your project,” he affirmed. “Try performing some PXRD experiments on your sample to see its crystal structure.”
“Okay! Sounds great! Is that all?” I wanted to get out of that office ASAP. I could feel my heart pulsating in my chest from the anxiety.
“Uh, Kevin told me about yesterday. He claims he heard you screaming at the DSC instrument. Is everything alright?”Dr. S’s green eyes could penetrate my soul.
“Everything is just lovely, Dr. S,” I looked down guiltily at my glove-covered hands. I still didn’t understand from where that anger emerged. “I’m really enjoying this research experience.” I smiled a grin that reached from ear-to-ear and gave him my classic “thumbs-up” gesture. I had a feeling that everything bagel I ate for breakfast was about to come back up. Sigh.
I walked into lab and donned my lab coat. I was about to exchange my fingerless gloves for latex ones when I felt something crisp in my coat pocket. I took out the object; it was a letter! And best of all, it was on American Chemical Society stationery. I opened it up carefully and placed it on the lab table. It read,
What?! Who is “WH?” I couldn’t think of anyone in the chemistry department whose initials were “WH” and who knew about my incident, for that matter. And the fact that he “will still” love me was more suspicious; he currently loves me and will regardless? I put the letter back in my pocket and tried to push the thoughts aside. I had experiments to run.
I prepped my fairy dust samples for Powder X-Ray Diffraction measurements, this time making sure that I kept my latex gloves on throughout the entire procedure. So as to minimize my exposure to the radiation (like it even mattered at this point), I exited the room and spent the time during the run perusing the literature that Dr. S gave me while listening to Carly Ray Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” on repeat. Twenty minutes later, I checked my fairy dust pattern. “NOISE!” I shrieked. “GROSS. Why me? Why!?”
Blubbering, I opened the door to the PXRD instrument and took out my sample. To my surprise, a piece of ACS stationery lay atop the sample holder. I examined it and froze dead in my tracks.