The Atom’s Atom – Chapter Two

I have never had such a tiring day in my two years in Singapore! I think spending an extended period of time in such a fickle climate has messed with my hippocampus[1], to the point where my own colleagues have labelled me as an “accident waiting to happen”! Hurtful (but funny) as that is, I admit that I am a scatter-brain, and nowhere near as systematic and clinical as Horten.

Yes, it is utterly tiring to lose things! It is even more so to lose your way, lose an important item, and lose track of time, all in the same day! I cannot begin to imagine how I managed to get lost walking from my residence to the lecture that Horten and I currently co-teach. Then, I proceeded to lose my keys somewhere between the start of the astronomy lecture and my walk back to the faculty office. In my flustered state, I then misjudged the amount of time I had, and ended up being late for a faculty meeting with new graduate students.

It must have been such a scene – a pale faced, panting man in his thirties bursting into the conference room muttering incoherently about something resembling a profuse apology. The mess that was me attracted some disapproving glares, with the exception of Horten (he simply flashed me a knowing smile) and a young lady who barely suppressed her giggle. Perhaps being messy has its own charms too!

Right after the meeting, I was reminded why I need characters like Horten in my life.

“Dr. Thorne. You will find that the keys to your humble abode are in my pocket. Of course, if you remembered that mobile communications are a necessity today, and not left said device at home, you would have known that before embarking upon your wild-goose chase!”, he grinned as he rapped a set of jingling metal objects in his right trouser pocket.

“O Horten! You are such a lifesaver!”

“Yes yes, what would you do without me…?”

I laughed a sigh of relief. “How are the new graduate students? We still need a teaching assistant for the astronomy module. Fancy we’d get the cute young thing sitting behind Professor Cooper?”

“Be careful there young doctor… Lest you lose your heart like you lost your keys!”

That night, as I slipped into bed, my last thoughts lingered upon her fair almond shaped face. If anyone thought the moon was beautiful, her face should be presented as a point of comparison, like a moon without craters. Her cheerful giggle and apparent approval of my tardiness amuses me, and attracts me in a way my Ph.D. mind could not comprehend. Ms Berres Orv… What an enchanting name…

The hippocampus is the part of the brain associated with long-term memory and spatial navigation.

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