Sunday, 8 February 2015

In the beginning

Here's a little treat for those of you who have read (or want to read) The Science of Attraction. It's a peek inside Tom Baker's head, a year or so before he moves to Germany and sweeps Kate Ramsey off her stilettos. It's a novella in progress and you'll see bits and pieces of the story show up here in the coming weeks. This is the first instalment. Enjoy!

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 1)
I’ve got three problems, and literally zero solutions in sight.
The first should be an easy fix, but it’s proving to be more difficult than I’d anticipated.
Her name is Saskia Harding, and she’s beautiful, smart as a whip— but seriously crazy. Like bat-shit crazy. I hooked up with her at a friend’s party a few months back, and now she won’t stop calling me. 
Ordinarily I’d be all for a girl sexting me incessantly. Her propositions seem to get lewder and more outrageous the longer I hold out on her.
And the thing is, we had a lot of fun together that night. Her roommate Lisa and I work in the same lab, and she’d just defended her PhD thesis, so she’d invited all the guys over to celebrate. Saskia’s non-biologist friends had rounded out the party, which was looking like it might otherwise dissolve into nerd territory. Mixing psych and drama majors with a bunch of scientists is evidently not quite as bad an idea as it sounds.
At some point during the course of the evening, Saskia had simply walked up to me, grabbed a fistful of my shirt, and said, “I think it’s time you and I got naked together.”
And that was it. We disappeared into her bedroom and spent the rest of the night there, losing ourselves in a few hours of mindless sex.
But that’s exactly the problem: it’s all about the sex, and somehow that whole scene just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.
I know, right? There must be something wrong with me. I’m twenty-seven and already jaded. It’s almost embarrassing to admit it, but I’m just not into meaningless encounters anymore. Or, to put it more accurately, I don’t mind meaningless encounters, just as long as they happen with a different woman each night. Simulating a relationship when there’s nothing left once the endorphins have settled just leaves me feeling cold.
Saskia texted me an hour ago with a picture of her tits and a message that sounded borderline psychotic.
Tooooooooom (she seriously spelled it like that) the girls miss you. Come home now pwease.
I spent no more than three hours with her ‘girls’ over two months ago. I very much doubt that they even remember me. And yet apparently I’m missed. Saskia was quick to agree that our encounter was nothing more than a bit of dirty fun when we talked about it the week after it happened. But somehow my insistence that it was a one-time thing has fallen on very deaf ears. I must be the worst booty call in history.
So that’s problem number one.
My second predicament is what the hell I’m going to do with myself next year once I’m through with my PhD. The world is my proverbial oyster and it’s scaring the proverbial shit out of me.
My adviser Simon is not being particularly helpful either. I know that he’ll come through for me when I figure out where I do want to go. He knows everyone who’s anyone, and his recommendation, on top of my Harvard stamp of approval, should make getting my first job in research fairly easy. But for some reason Simon is being decidedly quiet on the decision front. He’s not even hinting at where he thinks I should go.
I live in one of the greatest cities in the world to do research in biology, but I can’t just sit around and bounce from lab to lab. I’ll be the first to admit that my research career will only stagnate if I hang out in Cambridge forever. I need to get out—ideally, out of the States—and experience something new, if I’m really going to make a name for myself in biology. Simon managed to score a faculty job at Harvard after studying there, but even he started out with a bunch of years in England right after he finished his thesis.
So I know I need to get out. What I don’t know is where the hell I’m going to go. The options are endless, and entirely overwhelming.
My only consolation is that I’ve actually summoned up the initiative to apply for a fellowship that would at least sort out my funding for the next three years. It’s small solace—and it’s not in the bank yet—but at least it’s a step in the right direction. It would mean I could take the money anywhere in the world, and work with whomever I choose, so long as they have bench space in their lab and a willingness to have me around.


  1. This is wonderful! It's great to get to know Tom better. I'm looking forward to more!

    1. Hey Chanpreet, I'm so happy to hear that. It's certainly a lot of fun to write!