III. Present, I flee you: absent, I find you again: Your image follows me in the forest’s night …I search for myself: and yet find no one there. —Jean Racine, Phèdre NOW “I told you I saw him,” she whispers, her fingers to her mouth like a child. She even seems smaller,...

We both look at Diane, who is staring at the tray, the steaming mugs, the bruised-looking jam. “What?” I ask, thinking I misheard. “Let’s just say,” he says, sitting, “she has a deeper view of life. I learned that years ago.” “What do you mean?” I say. “When...

NOW You alone understand the heart, that’s what Serge told me once. The others are made of darker material. * * * The smell of vomit is everywhere. “We need to get out of here,” Dr. Severin says. “The fumes are dangerous.” But Diane won’t move, still seated on the metal...

NOW Once, in a neurobiology class in college, our professor showed us an MRI of a man’s brain that was covered with white blobs. He asked us what we thought they were. Everyone guessed tumors. I was the only one who got it right. “Tapeworms,” I said. I’d seen them countless...

NOW This is how she tells it. It was more than eight years ago, before she had this lab, her own lab, when she was still climbing hard, knuckles pressed against rock. She was recruiting participants for a new intramural study on possible genetic factors and PMDD. All day long, her...

Just shy of eleven o’clock, they stepped out onto the dusty train platform. Staring up at the sky, Diane said it reminded her of the first time she ever saw micrographs of astrocytes, those exquisite star-shaped brain cells, and discovered the strange beauty of science. It was...

Ten Years Later “It’s the lab you dream of,” the young woman says, leaning forward slightly in her chair. She is so nervous, neck straining, her CV in her lap, her scholarly publications neatly bound. She wants the position. She wants so badly to be on the team. “It took...

THEN Graduation Day This is a golden moment. That’s what my mom kept saying. The big Lanister sky made sure I felt it. Was it possible I’d never noticed it before, Barbicide blue and stretching on forever? And how the shaggy buildings of old downtown were winking at me? Even...