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Fiction

Glow

From the LabLit short story series

Joses Ho 31 January 2015

www.lablit.com/article/849

Mama was a grad student, two benches across, stealing glances at Papa through the glass beakers and micro-pipettes

Papa's eyes used to sparkle when he told stories of his trips to Puget Sound, kneeling on the docks, cheek-to-jowl with other postdocs, stretching out nets into the harbor, skimming up jellyfish that were unfortunate enough to float by, then driving back in his Dodge, its trunk packed full with styrofoam boxes, to the laboratory where he spent long hours in windowless rooms, carefully removing bladders and tentacles, the same lab where Mama was a grad student, two benches across, stealing glances at Papa through the glass beakers and micro-pipettes, both of them shy and soft-spoken, until Mama called in a favor, and got her friend's acapella group (a real popular one on campus, so says Mama) to deliver a singing telegram - "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" - to Papa, right there in the lab on Valentine's Day (and Papa gets so embarrassed he turns pink like a flamingo whenever Mama tells that story), and the rest is history: they got married the next summer in the chapel outside Woods Hole, a small ceremony attended by the lab techs and Grandpa, and Mama stopped doing lab-work to take care of me, even though Papa wasn't earning much, but he loved his work, the study of how jellyfish glow like angels in the blackness of the bay, and Papa eventually did figure it out, isolating the fluorescent proteins, but sometimes the world doesn't see things the way you see them, no matter how hard you try to tell them that your dreams are worth their time and money, so Papa's fellowship position ran out, and we moved from Woods Hole to Wisconsin, then to Huntsville, and Papa sold off his Dodge, and he now drives a courtesy van for the Toyota shop, and some evenings he still tells stories about Puget Sound, but his eyes don't sparkle like they used to.

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