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  • Patrick Rizio

Together

Here's hoping we all use the brains Mother Nature gave us to take proper precautions and stay as safe as we can. We'll get through this! Whether you look at our little planet from afar or, (especially at a time like this), your neighbor up close, it's a not so subtle reminder that we are all in this together on this tiny piece of dust. Just saying...


Chapter 20


"Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality."

Dalai Lama


The summer passed, as it usually does, far too quickly. Leaves began to change, the sky closed in just a little sooner every night, and the air smelled cooler and fresher every morning. Jason continued his almost masochistic research schedule, while continuing to amaze Thomson with his martial arts progress. The J-Tech D.P.O. was proving enormously successful. Although it was still too early to harvest, one merely had to visit any of the fields to see what was happening. The crop yields per acre were producing almost unbelievable numbers, three to four times above the best years on record, and with little or no fertilizer. Schimmel had played this hand perfectly. When J-Tech went public, just before the beginning of the second season, it was going to be huge. Investors were lining up like cattle to get in.

Huboral Intl. had quietly recruited a half dozen of the most well respected biochemists in the country and come up empty. Their search for such talent had currently expanded into Asia and Scandinavia. Oscar Crowne remained very upset.

Alison and Sarah shared more and more Mozart evenings on the couch. Alison was finding it not only exhilarating to have her mind elevated by Sarah’s, but also very relaxing afterwards. Similar to how one feels after meditation. The more often they did it, the easier it became. It was almost second nature for them now.

Sarah was doing graduate level work at the Math and Science Academy, but her testing was still on hold. Jason simply didn’t have the time to put something together right now, and she was not going back to the University, no matter how often they called.

With Jason’s research schedule being what it was, Saturday morning found Alison and Sarah at the Planetarium. That’s when it happened. Saturday morning, 10:23 A.M.

They were in the cafeteria section getting a snack and trying to decide if the next stop would be the field museum, or the aquarium, when the couple with Jenny sat down at the next table. They were obviously self-conscious about their daughter’s behavior and doing their best to cope.

Jenny was Sarah’s age, extremely introverted, and desperately clinging to her mother as they walked in. She was wearing tennis shoes, blue jeans trimmed in pink, a white blouse, and blue sweater. She was also wearing a bicycle helmet to protect her head in the event of a seizure. Most of the other people there pretended not to notice, but that was clearly impossible. A small girl clinging to her mother’s leg, with a bicycle helmet.

Jenny’s mom had her almost to her seat, when the seizure kicked in. Jenny’s helmet hit the chair as her legs gave out, her mother catching her before she hit the ground. Jenny’s father rushed over to help. Both parents trying to hold their daughter as still as possible, waiting for the seizure to pass. Sarah stopped sipping her orange juice and took the whole scene in with great interest. Alison, trying to be tactful, spoke to her quietly.

“Sweetheart it’s not polite to stare.”

No reaction.

“Sarah, honey, it’s not nice to stare.”

Still no reaction. Sarah remained transfixed with Jenny’s behavior. She seemed totally fascinated by what was happening. Alison quickly reached across the table and grasped Sarah’s hands in hers.

“Sarah please, look at me. Where should we go next? What do you think, the aquarium maybe?”

She was at a loss. Sarah was completely engrossed in the other little girls’ behavior and would simply not stop staring.

Jenny’s mother looked over at them momentarily, with no real expression, then returned to dealing with her daughter’s spasms. This was a bad one.

Finally, Sarah responded.

“It’s OK. Mommy. Don’t worry. It’s OK.”

Sarah pulled her hands back, folded them together on the table in front of her, and closed her eyes. It took about twenty seconds.

*******

“I need you to compare the patterns of protein configuration, during the cell healing process, with the protein configuration during growth. I want comparisons with embryo to full term pregnancy, infancy to childhood, and childhood through puberty.”

Jason’s computer answered in its usual manner.

“My, you are ambitious, you little devil you.”

“I’m looking for pattern recognition, something which will allow us to come up with a logarithmic based matrix. Do we have enough information for that?”

“Anything for you my darling.”

“Great, print those out for me please.”

“Printing, your wish is my command.”

Jason was heading for the water cooler when it hit him. He pulled his phone from his pocket and held down number two. Alison’s voice greeted him.

“Jason, let me call you back in just five minutes.”

“Where are you guys?”

“We’re at the Planetarium, heading for the car. Just give me a minute, I’ll call you right back.”

“OK. sweetie, talk to you then.”

Jason calmly turned his phone off and continued to the water cooler. He could feel that the girls were OK. Alison’s calm voice on the phone was confirmation. He also knew that Sarah had just expended an enormous amount of mental energy. On what he couldn’t tell. It was clear to him that she wasn’t hurt or in danger, but she had used up so much energy, so quickly, there wasn’t enough left for him to read her very clearly. This was something new. He decided it was time for a break.

“Printing done my darling.”

“Thank you. Break time girl. Relax.”

“I’ll count the minutes until your return.”

Jason filled a paper cup at the water cooler, drank it, filled one more, and headed for the courtyard. He found an empty bench, drank the second cup of water, and began to breath slowly and rhythmically. As he closed his eyes he imagined, the viewpoint of a dragonfly, skimming inches above the water in the afternoon sun...

*******

Sarah sat quietly at the table, hands folded, eyes closed, concentrating and relaxing at the same time.

For no apparent reason, Jenny began to calm down. Her spasms stopped, she relaxed her muscles, sat up straight, and simply calmed down. Her mother was speechless. She had never seen a seizure just...stop, like this. Jenny’s father let go of her arms. She was no longer flailing them about.

Alison quickly understood but was completely taken aback by what had just happened. She sat very still, her eyes moving back and forth from Sarah to the other little girl. The room quieted. People sitting at nearby tables began to notice. They seemed drawn to it. It was…compelling.

Jenny reached out for her mother’s hand. She took it into hers. When she spoke her voice was clear, calm, reasoned. Totally unencumbered by mental duress.

“I love you mom.”

Then she turned to her father and reached out for his hands. She didn’t speak when she held her father’s hands. She didn’t have to. After a few precious moments, Jenny put her head down on the table. Before closing her eyes to rest, she looked directly at Sarah and said softly and clearly, “Thank you.”

Sarah looked at Jenny and smiled, then,

“I think we should see the aquarium first Mommy.”

*******

On his way back to lab Jason was feeling great. At first, he attributed it to the short bit of meditation in the courtyard, but  he realized it was more due to Sarah than to his brief relaxation. He was feeling good because she was feeling good. Then he heard the Flintstones.

“Hey cute-stuff. What’s going on?”

“Sweetheart, we need to talk.”

“We are talking.”

“No Jason, I mean, we need to TALK.”

“OK. I understand. But where are you guys, and what happened?”

“We’re in the car, on our way home.”

“Well, that answers the first question.”

He heard Alison take a deep breath before answering the second.

That evening after dinner Alison made coffee, and the three of them talked things over. Sarah explained that she had been able to “see” what was bothering the other girl in the cafeteria, after which she he had just helped her get to where she was supposed to be. Jason and Alison exchanged glances. Jason spoke first.

“Was it like when you help Mommy listen to Mozart?”

“Yes, Uncle Jason, kind of like that.”

“And how about afterward sweetheart? How was she after?”

“The same as before, Uncle Jason. She just went back to where she was.”

“Back to where she was before you helped her?”

“Yes, Uncle Jason.”

Jason reached out and gave Sarah a big hug, which she returned wholeheartedly. Alison smiled, feeling the warmth between the two of them.

“OK. sweetie, get into your pajamas, brush your teeth, and Uncle Jason and I will be in to say goodnight.”

“OK. Mommy,” Sarah said, still looking at Jason. Then she broke her gaze and ran towards the bathroom.

It struck them both, how much like a normal little girl she looked.

Jason spoke first.

“She is a normal little girl, in most respects, you know.”

“I know she is,” Alison said quietly, the concern obvious in her voice. “It’s just that, Jason, how did this happen? And the people in the cafeteria, they were all looking at her. And that little girl’s parents, my god, what must they be thinking?”

Jason smiled at Alison, trying to mask his concern. He knew exactly how it had happened. Between what he had surmised on his own, and what he had “seen” when he talked with Sarah, it was clear to him now.

“Do we have any more coffee?”

“No, but I could make some more.”

“Why don’t we tuck Sarah in and make some. We need to talk.”

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