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Patricia

Patricia

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Patricia

My name is Patricia and some of my best work has been on logarithms. Logarithms. Log-a-rithms. I like saying the word logarithms. I say it out loud whenever there is an opportunity - and even when there's not. I manage to turn conversations around, even ones I'm only tenuously involved in, to accommodate my desire to express this commanding word. Marté said I use it like a handbag, but I told him it's more like a scarf or a petite silver hand-gun: subtle, distinguished and versatile.

I never enjoyed logarithms. I was great, I know. Professor Know would go out of his way to stop me in the department corridor and congratulate me on my latest article in Mathematique. Later, when he introduced me as keynote speaker at the conference, his enthusiasm and awe turned bitter in the mouths of my peers and colleagues. But it wasn't finally their viscous envy that got me here, bent over these ridiculous cells. It was the smells of science. Maths had no scent. No matter how ground-breaking the discovery, no matter how exhilarating the adrenalin rush that accompanied it, it was dull in scent and sentience.

Marté is forever tut-tutting me about my footwear. When he does this I know that he's criticising my outfits as well, but shoes are the safe haven where his criticism is veiled as stupidly as my hands under these Ansell plastic gloves: oh how protective is the category of safety to critiques of attire. I have three identical pairs and yes, my stilettos are as bright and red as the Big Bad Wolf's supper. So what? Are they hazardous? Slightly. Not in the scheme of things. They are not as dangerous in the laboratory as cigarette to petroleum tank. I haven't slipped yet. Douglas spilt his test-tube of liquid nitrogen all over the floor last month. I know it was deliberate. No-one ever handles the nitrogen like milk. If you can't have her sting her and scar her. That's what he was thinking. I'm quicker than Dougie though. Distracted by my shoes and matching gloss lipstick he forgets my decorated history in calculating. So you won't catch me in those hideous white rubber boots, no matter how much Marté flouts and cites and touts the law (Marté's obsession with the rules has been raging out of control of late and I cannot help but think it is in direct relation to the significance which he attributes to that freshly acquired hideous horse-hair wig. I have good mind to set Dougie's nitrogen to it. But that is a whole other story which is too distracting to the one I must tell you now) no matter how many times Douglas plots and schemes and risks scalding or even killing himself. It is certain - indeed a fact: Douglas's desire to have me hopeless and helpless and debilitated, crying out for his help from the great low of the white floor is suicidal. He will not quit. No. And yes, I'm as obstinate as oil is to water.

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