Science and Love

Chapter 6: As bright as the sun itself

Summer woke up really early to try and enjoy the pool before duty caged her inside a conference room, so by 7 a.m. she was already swimming. She tried to call Claire but, as expected, she and Clara were yet dead to the world. When she came out she bumped into Yu.

”Morning, Yu! You
e up early, I see. Couldn sleep? ”

”Morning, Summer. I see you are as active as ever. I actually thought I wouldn be able to sleep because of jetlag, but Claire told me to turn all lights of and focus on the sound of the sea and before I new it I was asleep! Just woke up and decided to go to the gym, but it will take a while for it to open, so I decided to have breakfast. ”

”Hmm, is that so? Well, if you would like company and doesn mind eating with someone in a bathing suit, we could eat together. ”

”Do you really think I would mind? And I would love some company. I tried starting a conversation with some students but they all seem afraid of talking to researchers. I don get it, Claire was so outgoing… ”

”Oh, you sweet summer child, have you already forgotten how we were when we were grad students? Do you remember how long it took for you to work up your courage to talk to one of our own professors at a conference? ”

”Yes, but I thought the students here would be different after talking to Claire. She is a PhD student right? Did she already complete her doctorate? ”

”Claire? No, she just defended her Masters dissertation. Are you thinking about Clara? She is the PostDoc student. ”

”Wait, Claire just finished her Masters? I thought it was the other way around… ”

”Claire doesn look older than Clara, does she? Or am I biased by our time together? ”

”No, its nothing to do with appearance. She looks young, but she is very personable. She didn look like she was in any way oppressed by the fact that we were all PIs, you know? ”

”Oh, that. Claire has a great quality: she treats everyone equally, be it the president or the guy cleaning the streets. And she has the same problem as you with titles, which is why I thought it was so weird for her to call you Dr. Yu.. she must have been reprimanded before in a similar situation or something. Anyway, she is a darling of a person. Its great to see her finally come out of her shell again. ”

”That was her coming out of her shell? Im afraid now.. ”

”Ha ha, very funny. You know what, I will tell you the whole story since I think you too would be great friends and I don want you to misunderstand her in any way. Claire had some rough years during her undergrad, coupled with health problems and sprinkled with terrible relationships. Her boyfriend at the time mistreated her in every way possible and her supervisor kept treating her as if she was a hassle to work with, even though Claire was the one doing everything for everyone in the lab. Just thinking about those two has me fuming! ”

”Thats horrible! But she doesn look like it at all, she is so bright… ”

”Yeah, well, she is great at hiding her own pain, which is why Im always worried about her. Anyway, all of that left her thinking she was incapable of doing science and that she was wasting everybodys time by insisting on being a scientist so, after graduating, she went on to work as a salesperson in a hobby store where she got harassed again and again by the men that frequented the place. She also thought she didn deserve to be happy or loved, so it was easy for her to be roped in a terrible marriage by someone who was just a little bit kind to her. ”

”Wait, shes married?! ” asked Yu looking at Summer with a look that she didn quite understand.

”Is that what you got from everything I said? Im disappointed, Yu. No, she is not married anymore. She just got a divorce, which is also one of the reasons I called her to come and help me. I gathered she needed to see some new faces and get out of that empty house ”

”Yeah, right, as if I didn know you got her to come because without her everything would be falling apart. ”

”Still picking up on things quickly, are we? Yes, that too, but I was genuinely worried about her. It hasn been an easy period for her, and I know she feels happy when she is able to help others. You will never see someone with a more genuine smile while giving someone directions as Claire. And if there is anyone here that will be able to talk to you as an equal, be it talking about work or just talking about nothing, is Claire. She has this inferiority complex that drives me crazy, but it gives her an advantage when talking to superiors. ”

”Is there such a thing as something good arising from an inferiority complex? ”

”Yes, there is! Because she thinks she is utterly inconsequential in anyones life, she believes shell be forgotten immediately after a person interacts with her, which gives her the freedom to act as she pleases since the person will not really think about it ever again. ”

”Well, that is a way to work around nervousness to talking to the public. But how could she think that? I interacted with her for less than half an hour so late at night and I remember everything she said and done for me… ”

”Is that so? ” Summer didn think Yu actually knew the implications of what he just said and how he looked while saying it..

”Anyway, I told you all that because Claire can seem over-friendly or downright cocky to some people, and because both of you are my friends and I think you would like getting to meet each other, I didn want you to misunderstand her. ”

”It wasn necessary, but I appreciate your care, Summer. But I don remember you being this nice to anyone before. ”

”Well, nobody has ever being as nice to me as Claire, I couldn let her actions be misconstrued just because shes genuinely a nice person and people in our field are not used to it. She worked in another conference with me and Professor Caldwell harassed her because he thought she was offering herself to him. All because she smiled at him! ”

”He did WHAT now?! ”

”Calm down, chief. Ive already scolded him to hell and back. He is banned from all conferences I organize and if he gets close to Claire in the ones Im not on the organizing committee, he gets thrown out of the venue. ”

”Wait, he tried again when you weren around? ”

”Yes, that bastard. Poor Claire apologised to me so much, saying she must have said something wrong and that she was sorry for creating problems and taking away options for lecturers… I didn know if I should hugh her or slap her, to be quite honest. ”

Yu looked downright furious. He took some deep breaths and then said:

”You know he works on my department, right? ”

”Is that so? You should alert your female students about him. Hes the worst. ”

”Alert my students? What I want to do is to beat him up, thats what. ”

A shadow fell onto the table, someone hugged Summer from behind and a cheery voice said:

”Here you are! I see Master Yu is an early bird like our Summer! ”

Yu was surprised by Claires appearance and didn have time to recompose himself, so when he looked at her she saw someone that was really angry. The smile left her face and she looked sad as she said:

”Im sorry for calling you Master Yu, again. I was just joking, but you told me last night you didn like it, so I shouldn have. Im really sorry. ”

And then she bowed.

”I will get my breakfast, have you two eaten? ”

”Not yet, sweetie. ”

”Summer, how many times have I told you not to exercise on an empty stomach?! Youll get sick! Do you want me to get you some fruits? ”

”No need, I will go get something with Yu in a bit. ”

”Okay, Ill leave you two alone, then. Bye, Dr. Yu. ”

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