Am 5'. Feisty and 25. Overworked. Over educated. Underpaid. Dying.
|My name is Adisyn Garrett. Am 5'. Feisty and 25. Overworked. Over educated. Underpaid. Dying.
Slashing lines through that line of inspiration, I penned another opening.
Children die. Adults vanish. Children vanish. Adults die.
I was hammered early one boxing day in 1996 about those truths. Opened the newspaper and a 6 year old had been killed by an intruder in her own home. My father vanished years earlier, it was that simple. Disappeared. No trace or clue, we gave up looking. Sure as child, I knew a person ‘passed’ that is what the nuns taught it to be, going to heaven, purgatory and hell depending on your position in life. I would drift into world of meaningless imagination, as they would discuss the prospects of purgatory, picturing Jesse James and his brother Frank working in banks and on trains without a shotgun in sight, or Wild Bill and Doc Holliday sitting on bar stools without a playing card in sight. Therefore, I accepted, in some ill-formed way, that mortal life was temporary. Nevertheless, I wondered why death would always hit me hard.
I glanced at the clock, 6:30. I abandoned the merciful autobiography and began to doodle, circles inside circles, a clock face, the laboratory, Earth, the Milky Way. Around me, my fellow students were discussing the current evaluation from a previous experiment, Gram Staining a relatively simple technique involving an unknown positive or negative bacterium and staining it with iodine to identify the bacteria. Well that is the short version. It was simply just poke me in the eye dull. We had been in the experimental lab for over 2 hours, no break, stiffing heat, some horrible left over stale smell from the class experiment before, time just was not flying. I hated night class.
The potential scientist of each group was now feeling the need to have their say about the ethical way of growing viruses. A routine way of doing this involves inoculating live chicken eggs with viral particles. Sandi Clarke is an over-the-top keen student. That is not what I truly wanted to say but the other would just be cause for more slashes. Occasionally, she will say something that I understand. Her long dark hair made her look suspicious; her dark eyes did not entice me to be friends with her either. Books closed with pen in her hand and jotting down every lasting word being broadcast, she was definitely razor-sharp after every lesson. Sandi was discussing that viruses have been around since before life began on this planet. Very wrong. Viruses have a habit of deriving from the very cell that they infect, the nucleic acid of viruses come direct from the host cell genomes. Therefore, viruses would have to have come into existence after the formation of cells. Tiring of my Milky Way, now complete with Rockets, American Moon Flag and the odd Astronaut I switched my hand to some calligraphy. Adisyn. Child of Adam. How boring.
Time check, 6:58. The verbiage flowed on. Cathy Moore was residing. However, roughly in her late forties Cathy looks like something you would find in a child’s art museum. Long, gray fine hair, wireless rims, elf ears. Most who know Cathy consider her dour, not me. I have seen the woman smile about two or three times. After putting her ethical debate about viruses behind her, Cathy gave out the homework heading. I halted my swirly lettering to listen. Contrast viruses with prokaryotes in terms of the characteristics of life. My aborted autobiography had been smack on I would die of boredom before this class that finished. Sudden mental image. Sensory deprivation experiments of the 1950s I pictured the college students lying on small cots, in an empty cubicles nearly 24 hours a day, leaving only to eat and use the bathroom. They wore translucent goggles that let in light but prevented them from seeing any shapes or patterns, and they were fitted with cotton gloves and cardboard cuffs to restrict the sense of touch. The continuous hum of an air conditioner and U-shaped pillows placed around their heads blocked out auditory stimulation. I started listing their symptoms and compared them to my present state. Anxiety. Depression. Anti-social behavior. Hallucination. I crossed out the fourth item. Although stress and irritable I wasn’t hallucinating. Yet. Not that I’d mind, a vivid vision would have provided diversion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not grown cynical about learning, I love being skilled in something new. I regret that my concentration with my work seems more limited each year. With that, what Cathy was writing on the board fascinated me to write about. Escherichia Coli is a model organism for modern geneticists. What bacterial characteristics make E.coli particularly useful in genetic experiments? A sign of relief, now that’s more like it.
Am a student in microbiology and I work dayshifts in the morgue assistant the pathology department, anymore time sitting in that classroom with the same textbook lecturer would drive me to the point of demise. I know death. Now it stalks me. This is my story.
As a little girl, I lived on Scotland’s South West Side, in the less fashionable outer spiral of a neighbourhood called Cumnock. Developed as a town to house the mining families, act as a market for the local villages and sits on the confluence of the Glaisnock Water and the Lugar Water. As it lost its railway station and local industries declined in the later 20th century, Cumnock's economy suffered badly, and for a time it seemed to be destined to become a ghost town. A rising crime rate, problems with drug addiction and related social problems in the area, together with the high unemployment rate in the district and in Cumnock in particular, all added to this atmosphere of despair.
My memories of that time and place are happy. In cold weather, neighbourhood kids would slide down the ice created with garden hoses on the empty space where a roundabout used to be in park behind our house. Daddy would steady me on my double blades, clean slush from my jacket and hat when I took a header. In the summer, we played Rounders, Kerbie or Red Rover in the middle of the street, avoiding the cars speeding down by. My brother Andy and I would catch tadpoles by the tub and leave them in daddy’s shed.
During the endless Scottish winters, countless Garret aunts and uncles gathered to play cards in our eclectically worn out parlour. The routine never varied. After supper, Mum would take small tables from the hall cupboard, dust the tops, and unfold the legs, occasionally I would help if my brother decided he wanted to do the dishes alone it was one of many weird habits he had. Afterwards, he would drape the linen cloths, and I would centre the decks, napkins, and peanut bowls.
With the arrival of spring, card tables were abandoned for front porch conversation and music. I didn’t understand much of it. Nurses pay strike. SDP and the Liberal Party. The near demise of Prince Wales. I didn’t care. The world seemed predictable, people with relatives, teachers, there was kids like me from households similar to mine. Life was Barshare Primary, Pace Youth Theatre, Church on Sunday, and pantomime in the winter.
Then daddy vanished, and my six-year-old universe fragmented into shards of doubt and uncertainty.