Beatrice Bennett was fascinated by everything small. Ants, fungus, and even dust. As a child she would wander around her airy, creaky old house with a large magnifying glass in her hand inspecting tiny crevices and mouldy corners . Beatrice was tall for her age. When she was three she looked like she was six. This annoyed her greatly as she didn’t like to stand out. Her bright red hair and pale skin made blending in even more difficult. She enjoyed getting lost while gazing through her magnifying glass at the tiny dust particles dancing in the afternoon rays of sunlight that streamed in through her fathers library window.
She imagined a whole other galaxy of life right there before her eyes. Tiny microscopic creatures living on one spec of dust who could travel from one particle to another in search of food and shelter.
Beatrice Bennett became an avid science student at school and constantly queried her teacher on the idea of atoms and particles. She would draw beautifully intricate diagrams of animal cells colouring each organelle so perfectly that her mother would frame them and hang them proudly in the kitchen next to the portrait of her grandfather who was a renowned geologist.
“What is it you like about small things Beatrice” her teacher would ask . “What is there not to like ” Beatrice would quietly reply. “Think about how a tiny nucleus hidden in a cell can contain all the information to create a giraffe or a tiny mouse”.
When Beatrice was 11 her mother died. She was an only child and her heart was shattered so badly that she refused to speak from that day on. Instead she took refuge in her fathers library and read books on “The Big Bang Theory” and Dark Matter and the Human genome and the Biology of the ape. Her father tried his best to console her but she seemed too far gone into her tiny world. She would hear him late at night whispering on the telephone, consulting with people, experts who knew children and how to make them speak.
Beatrice remained in her small silent world pondering the big questions. Why was she here , in this library, in this house, on this earth, on this planet?
She was accepted to Oxford University to study genetics and molecular biology. She felt more relaxed there amongst like minded humans but she still did not speak. Her laboratory experiments however became more and more complex. Despite the fact that she used test tubes the size of her little finger she could prove theories that answered big questions. Like whether Blue Whales could be used as molecular markers to detect and prove Climate Change.
People became intrigued by the young woman who practically lived in the laboratory ferociously recording her experimental data. However she still never spoke. Her professor tried to encourage her to present her research at an international Climate Change Symposium but instead Beatrice wrote him a note in beautiful hand writing. She explained that she would be much happier examining slides on her electron microscope.
Beatrice was looking for something, just as an astronomer studies the night sky transect by transect, she studied her glass microscope slides with an instrument so powerful it could visualise something small enough to fit on the head of a pin. She could actually for the first time in her life see with her own eyes the atoms she had been dreaming of as a small child. Beatrice studied her microscope slides searching through billions of cells and their debris desparately hunting for the virus that killed her mother.
Her mother lived in Africa as a small child. Beatrice had determined early on in her research that her mother had in fact died from a virus that she most likely contracted through her pet monkeys. This virus had a latent period of about 30 years until conditions within its host’s brain were ripe and the pathogen would burst out of its protective envelope and destroy its host slowly, cell by cell.
Beatrice now understood why it was that she found herself in her fathers library all those years ago, why it was that she was created with such an innate fascination for the microscopic world. It was so she could begin to answer the questions that nobody else could even see.
A young journalist from the scientific magazine “Nature” came to spend time with Beatrice to observe her at work. An excerpt from his interview describes “At first Bennett recorded “I was rather surprised to observe scarcely any appearance of it” ”
It was not until two years later that this young journalist knew what Bennett had meant by this laboratory book entry.
Beatrice had been found slumped over her microscope by a university cleaner, she was cold and non responsive. She had in fact isolated the deadly virus that killed her mother. In an attempt to study this pathogen more closely she had been successful in detecting its most virulent genes. She cloned this genetic information to some bacterial cells and drank their soup. She had been studying her own disease pathology.
They found a passage in her notebook.
“I am not afraid of death. Death is simply a breaking down of cells as their life cycle becomes expired. It is not the end, it can never be the end. Atoms will continue to join together to form molecules and molecules adhere together to form You or that single red rose you gaze at so lovingly. Beginning small, taking each atom by each atom can lead to connections. Connections that can have the power to carry us from beneath the soil to the stars beyond. Where the solar rays still shine.
Has Druimé Lost the plot ?
We are all a little mad aren’t we ?
I have a jar full of writing prompts.
Todays prompt was “Pick up the nearest book open it randomly and use the first complete sentence as a writing prompt”.
The book was “Platypus The Extraordinary story of how a curious creature baffled the world” The sentence was “At first Bennett recorded “I was rather surprised to observe scarcely any appearance of it”
My first prompt from the mystery jar was “Write about something that happened to you as a child”
Maybe you might like to try ?