Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: The Experiment

I've got a lot of writing to do this weekend, and some of it might even be creative, so I decided to use this week's Sunday Scribbling prompt to get me going. Let's see where this takes me...

Prompt #101: The Experiment

It was late already, so dark that the windows showed nothing but the blackness of the night and her reflection. Jessie sat at the lab table under the bright fluorescent lights, waiting for the concoction in her beaker to boil. The Bunsen burner hissed and the clock ticked while she stared at the liquid.

Jessie was used to spending time alone in the lab. Not many other college seniors found chemical reactions as interesting as she did. In fact, she was pretty sure 95 percent of the campus was drinking it's way into oblivion at that very moment. She, on the other hand, was well on her way to discovering the cure for some major diseases. OK, right now she was just rerunning her organic chemistry lab to make sure she'd gotten all the details right for her report. But some day she'd be receiving the Nobel prize for advances in medicine. She could see the ceremony now.

A bitter smell brought her back to reality and she looked down to find the beaker in front of her dry and burning. "Shit!" She jumped up and grabbed the beaker off the burner without thinking. "Ow! Shit, shit, shit!" she yelled, dropping the hot glass on the lab table and shattering it. "Argh!" she groaned. She turned off the flame on the burner and went to the sink to run her hand under cold water. "Now I'm going to have to start again," she mumbled to herself, checking the time. Maybe she should have gone to that party after all, and tried a social experiment instead.

There was a knocking behind her and she jumped, splashing water down the front of her. "Is everything OK in here?"

Jessie turned around, wiping her shirt with a paper towel. She stopped mid-dab when she saw the man standing in the door way. He was tall, with broad shoulders and black hair. His eyes were so blue she could see the color from where she was standing, half-way across the large room. "Uh, yeah...yeah, I'm fine." Pulling herself together, she picked up the hand broom and dust pan and walked back toward the lab table to clean up the glass. "I just got distracted and messed up my reduction. I'll be here all night at this rate."

"I heard the glass break," he said and she could hear him coming into the room.

Her palms started to sweat. Great, she thought. Just what I need tonight. "I knocked it over when I tried to turn it off." He didn't need to know she'd burned herself like an idiot.

"Want some help cleaning up?" he asked, bending down to pick up a piece of glass that had fallen on the floor.

"Oh, I can get it. I'm going to be here all night now anyway." Jessie stopped sweeping the counter to look at the stranger, smiling. "I thought I was the only one on this campus that spent Friday nights in the chemistry lab."

"I left something after class today, and I came back to get it. I was just leaving when I heard you yell." He smiled back with a soft, crooked smile.

"Great, so I am the only one who spends Friday nights in the lab," Jessie said, laughing. "I'm Jessie, by the way."

He smiled widely. "Nice to meet you, Jessie. I'm Andrew."

There was a long moment of silence while they stood, smiling at each other. Jessie broke the spell. "Well, Andrew, I should get back to work if I want to get this done before morning. Thanks for the help."

"Sure. I guess I'll see you around then," Andrew said, backing toward the door.

"Yeah, see you around." Jessie waved her hand and finished sweeping the shards into the dust pan. She emptied the mess into the trash can and pulled another beaker from the cabinet. When she turned back to the lab table, Andrew was sitting on a stool holding the striker in his hand.

"Maybe I could light the burner or something," he said, scraping the flint on the striker a couple of times. "The faster you get done, the sooner we can go grab a pizza."

Jessie just stood there, holding the beaker in her hands, stunned.

"I'm not a creep or anything, if that's what you're thinking." Andrew put the striker down and stood up, holding his hands up in surrender. "I swear, I just thought pizza sounded good, and I thought you might be interested in sharing some. So maybe I could help?"

Jessie shook herself out of her trance and walked to the table. "The company would be nice. But it will really be more like watching. There's not much to help with."

"Then I'll watch." Andrew sat back down and crossed his arms. "Let's get this experiment started. I'm hungry."

Jessie grinned and lit the burner. "Me, too," she said. Who ever said chemistry couldn't be fun?


Becca said...

I loved this story! I was hooked from the first words, and I love the happy ending, which nicely sets the reader up for more story to come :)

I hope their "experiment" works out!

Tumblewords: said...

Successful experiments are the best kind, even if the ingredients change at the last minute!

Anonymous said...

As they say, it set my mood. Great piece of writing, this!

Refluxing Life

Ami said...

Thanks for the compliments everyone!

Granny Smith said...

What a delightful story! It takes me a while to read a selection of Sunday Scribblings, so didn't compliment you earlier on this really excellent short story. I like the way you didn't hurry the scene, taking the time to establish character and mood.

I'll visit here again!

Ami said...

Granny Smith - Thanks for stopping by and reading. I'll be continuing this story for the next Sunday Scribblings, so come back and check it out if you get a chance!

DJPare said...

Nice chemistry!

Anonymous said...

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