Preparing the Reaction

Miss Andrea Viliger had an age-old tale; attempted medical school, accepted into medical school, then backed out. She wasn't special in that respect. She was special, however, because she was still in love with science, no matter what it cost her, and when the snowflakes wafted down from her roof, she stuck out her tongue and remembered that the snowflake was probably slightly acidic. And then realized that no one but she cared.

Insanity tasted desperately like giving up; suicide felt depressingly like heartbreak. Miss Andrea Viliger lived three miles from the town of Atwater, a small farming community known for its corn and soybeans instead of its people. She moved there eighteen years ago, back when she was a young woman who believed that a quiet life was the best laid future plan, and that finding a life partner was the least of her goals. Both theories were true, still remained true. She was just as happy now as she was when she arrived.

But life was a bittersweet pill. She learned that from years of struggling at university, not that she wasn't academically bright, because she was, but because becoming a doctor was an ambitious task, and she lacked a competitive drive. 'Que sera, sera,' she muttered to herself before every exam, "What will be, will be." And those exams weren't failures of her life, thank goodness, but some days, some tests, some courses... they were hell on earth. She remembered tears at the corner of her eyes for hours, threatening to fall, the weight in her chest nearly suffocating as her hand scribbled endless amounts of notes. She remembered feeling that she was never going to make it; that her efforts were futile.

So what if her mind when numb, when the words that people said began to sound like buzzing in her mind, strange whispers in her ear that she ignored. So what if she stared at her future and wondered if she could die today and not have to deal with it. So what if she was so very close to breaking?

At 24, Miss Andrea Viliger left her third year medical school for a run-down two-story house that she affectionately named Kishner Villa. She didn't tell friends or family. She didn't leave a forwarding address; she changed her cell phone number. Miss Andrea Viliger didn't want to be Miss Andrea Viliger. Not that she wanted to be a Mrs, but Andrea Viliger had dreams of being a D.O. pulmonologist, dreams of Doctors Without Borders. This woman, this childish girl trapped in a woman's body, she didn't know what she wanted. She didn't know if 3 Musketeers were just as good as Snickers, or if pancakes or waffles were tastier (though she thought waffles were better because of the extra fluff factor).

At 24, Miss Andrea Viliger, ex-medical student, bought a run-down two-story house with the money she saved from working during her undergraduate years. It was enough to pay the down payment, but the rest of the money would run out if she didn't find a job soon.  

Atwater wasn't too small of a city. It was large enough that it took her half and hour to cross from one side of town to the other; it was large enough to have a decent mall, large enough to keep her anonymity. But it was too small for much crime, too small for traffic jams, and too small to have a lot of job competition. At 24, Miss Andrea Viliger found a job as a preparatory laboratory assistant to the labs at the local community college. She didn't mind because as much as her lab classes in her undergrad caused her pain, she honestly loved science.

There was beauty in way molecules interacted, all the little rules they followed, the ones they usually broke. These molecules, which made up everything in the world, animate and inanimate alike, interacted like high school students in love. They flirted and dated; broke up and got back together again. Sometimes, they stayed forever, bumping shoulders in the hallway. It was the closest and truest form of love that she ever saw, would ever see. There was a purity in science that rarely existed out of it. There were rules to undefined actions, rules that applied to stereotypes that shouldn't exist on a molecular level. Science was its own brand of crazy; it own form of life.

So when she decided that she should end it all, her flirtation with science, her future, her career, her life, she realized that insanity, the way her thoughts coalesced and her attention dispersed, felt a lot like giving up. She gave in to all the pressure and took a way out, like so many others before. Before this, she hadn't realized that insanity felt a lot like giving in.


She remembered being in her room that night, her head on her pillow, her knees tucked into her chest. She remembered the tears that fell from her eyes, felt them fall, and she couldn't stop them. They had been like a dam all day, threatening the corner of her eyes like a levee about to break, and now that she finally let those defenses go, they wouldn't stop. The first drop was a spider thread, a drop connected to a stream, and then the spider silk broke and a thousand rivulets fell from her eyes, her hiccups drowned by the roaring fan she turned on earlier.

She knew this was coming, knew for months. What she wasn't ready for was the sheer intensity of the moment. She hadn't expected how mentally exhausted she was going to be; she hadn't realized that her future was no longer certain. She wasn't certain about anything anymore.

At 19, Miss Andrea Viliger didn't think that she could be a doctor anymore, but she still tried to become one.

At 21, Miss Andrea Viliger drank herself into oblivion to make up for all those times she couldn't when she wasn't 21. It was a satisfying night, if only because her seasoned drinking friends, who thought they could out drink her and laugh as she made a fool of herself, realized that they blacked out long before she was even tipsy.

"Beginner's luck," they mumbled the next day. "Don't worry, we'll get you good and drunk next time."

They didn't. They thought they could drown her in beer and booze, but what they didn't know, not having to fight for every GPA point, was that she was already drowning, and what is a cup to a person submerged in a lake? She had been drowning since she was 15. They'd only been drinking since college.

The End

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