Nita Rignarok gazed at the flask of bubbling fluid with some apprehension. If she didn’t get the proper percentage of dinitro-PMA40 this time, it would spell doom for her four-step nitrogen mechanism. She sighed, grabbing one of her dark braids and biting it fiercely. She had worked so hard on that theory! The preliminary experiments alone took nine months, not to mention literature search and mathematical analysis.
The lab door opened and a woman entered. “How is it going, Nita?” she asked, picking up another flask and frowning at it.
“So far, so good, Mom. How do your crystals look?”
“Not as well-defined as I’d hoped.” The mother sighed, echoing her daughter. Then her face brightened. “Have you heard the news?”
Nita turned. “I’ve been in the lab all day. What news?”
“You’ve heard of Greg Rowell?”
The girl groaned. “Are you kidding? At least once a week in Forum, and that was before he won the Pauling Prize. What has he done now?”
Her mother’s eyes twinkled. “It’s not what he’s done, it’s what he’s going to do. He’s coming here for a visit! Two whole weeks!”
Nita gasped. “What? When? You mean the Greg Rowell?”
“Yes, the one and only. He’s coming Tuesday. Ben said he called this morning and asked permission to come. Permission! I guess he thought we might still be angry because his parents left. But that was before he was born, and even if it were yesterday, we would forgive because –”
“—to forgive is divine,” finished Nita. “Did Ben tell him that? What does he know of our philosophy?”
“He can’t know much, because Cathy – his adoptive mother – thought we were crazy, and she wouldn’t have told him much under those circumstances. But he does have the letter his parents left him, so he knows about Spinoza, Abbott, the dimensional question, etc.”
“Knowing about those things isn’t knowing,” stated Nita.
“You’re so right – which is another part of the philosophy. He’ll find out soon enough. He’ll be here on the train from Fairbanks; Ben wants to have a party and let school out for the afternoon. After all, he is Greg Rowell.” She peered at Nita’s flask. “Don’t you think it’s time to cool it now?”