Erika Cleveland and Channie Greenberg

Erika Cleveland
“I’m an Angel/Green Man”
Inspiration piece

Bionic Mushrooms and Sundry Other Things
By Channie Greenberg
Inspiration piece

Another miniature energy farm was not what Dr. Terry Sanders had been seeking when caviling to her husband about their marriage. Like earlier generations of women, she considered herself tormented by her partner, brothers, and sons. The latter groups appeared to be beyond her influence. The former, though, ought to be making her life less contentious.

All of Terry’s menfolk, akin to her, were researchers. Nevertheless, all of them seemed jealous of the cognitive leap that had enabled her to win a Noble Prize. More exactly, they resented that their beloved Dr. Sanders had led the team pioneering coating fungi with energy-producing, blue-green cyanobacteria while employing SD-printed graphene nanoribbons to catch any resulting flux.

Terry’s crew had meant to measure the microamps yielded by the head of a single mushroom. Amongst themselves, they had joked that if they failed, they’d count the angels dancing on that pileus. Unexpectantly, those scientists never had to involve themselves with celestial beings—they had been able, for an entire minute, to power a two-terminal, electronic component-based pencil sharpener with their toadstool.

Birgitta Bremer, a biologist who was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, had read about Terry’s study. Accordingly, she had nominated Dr. Sanders and staff for the chemistry Noble Prize.

Terry Sanders smiled upon recalling the evening gown that she had worn to Stockholm. That teal, silk dress had been as comfortable as a bathrobe and as satisfying as applying chain terminator sequencing to fighting cancer. Terry had become a science princess!

Her happy event, though, had occurred months ago. Currently, Terry was back at her bench and back under the derisive glare of her kinsmen.

Truly, her older and younger siblings didn’t need to be aggrieved because of her achievements, specifically, or misogynous, for no reason at all, more generally. Sure, those relatives worked in corporate settings while she was a “mere” academic. Indisputably, they were paid well, by a giant pharmaceutical company, to manipulate ultrafine particles in fertilizers whereas her lower salary was typical of those granted to university employees.

Yet, her sibs oughtn’t have mocked her historic honor or baited her about her view on the ill-conditioned mathematics of selection in molecular dynamics simulations. Alternatively, they should have sought interpersonal “photosynthesis,” i.e., should have given her even minute resistive pulse sensing measures of esteem. Her brothers could have risen above intellectual brutishness, could have achieved familial concord, and could have bestowed civility upon their only sister. Yet, they did not.

As per Terry’s sons, one of whom was working on a postdoc in spectroscopy, in the realm of crystallographic studies, and the other of whom was engaged in graduate studies emphasizing circular dichroism, when they visited their parents, almost always bringing along their wives and children, not once did they also convey meals or components thereof. What’s more, those descendants never supervised their rug rats during their stays or gathered up their used linens upon leaving. Neither right nor left-handed cleanup of any sort was realized when those boys dropped in.

Most important, though, to Terry, were her issues with Hevel. Her spouse of more than forty years persisted in repeatedly changing her home computer’s screen saver.

Terry smiled whenever she saw her humorously exaggerated drawing depicting femtosecond pulse width. The again, she frowned whenever she saw the Arrhenius equation that Hevel kept putting in that cartoon’s place. If only her man would cease and desist performing that act, she’d reconcile with him over the roast beef that had gone missing scant hours before her troupe had popped in to rejoice over their Nobel Prize.

It was silly that her spouse begrudged her success. He had been awarded the Melchett Medal and the Welch Award for his work on the structure and function of fundamental subunits of chromatin. Although it was true that his acclaim derived from his application of some of the design parameters produced by Terry’s squad, Hevel had matchlessly integrated microbes with materials of tiny dimensions.

Namely, he had transformed a rose into a dynamo for a personal fan and had transformed a carrot into a source of heat capable of warming up a cup of tea. He was a formidable professor in his own right. Unfortunately, Hevel, who had intended his designer bio-hybrids to be an anniversary offering to Terry, had spewed about his wife’s investigations’ flaws concurrent with delivering those gifts.

Before he had completed his unsolicited critique, she had fled his presence and his presents and had locked herself in their bedroom. Behind their bedroom door, she had cussed, loud enough for the neighbors to hear, that molecules were easier to manage than men.

A week later, Dr. Terry, nonetheless, consented to sit with Dr. Hevel in a fancy fish restaurant and to celebrate their union. Her husband ordered broiled trout. She opted for grilled bass. Between their amuse-bouche and entrées, Hevel pushed a glittery package across the table.

Terry raised one eyebrow at him before ripping open the wrapping. She smiled. Hevel had given her a box of unsharpened number two pencils. The woman of science then reached into her handbag for a similarly parceled box (they owned limited types of decorative paper.)

Hevel, too, smiled upon opening his gift. His box held a collection of herbal tea bags.

Going forward, Terry’s brothers still snarked at her. Her offspring still treated her and their father like hotel concierges, not like parents.

Terry and Hevel, nonetheless, once more had taken up flirting. Until the end of their days, they seduced each other with talk of single-celled organisms, fungi, and small scale chemical reactions.


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