The biologists grow bored with the wild and want to study the angelic. The astronomers won’t trade their telescopes for microscopes, but the anthropologists are bored too, bored with Grace’s lunchbox and the way she doesn’t react to the dolls they throw into her room while she studies. They are happy to give up Grace if it means they can cancel their subscriptions to Tiger Beat, and so the biologists trade them gorillas who were growing suspicious anyway.
Grace spots the biologists lurking in the bushes when she leaves for school. They army crawl across the grass as she walks to the bus stop. While she waits, the biologists hop over fences and pretend to be dogs, dogs that bark out field observations about her height and weight and whether or not her new haircut looks good.
It’s not just some biologists. It’s all the biologists.
They’ve given up on diseases and birds and bird diseases and the world crowds with unchecked life. Grace’s world grows crowded, too. One biologist sits at the breakfast table and says he’s an uncle visiting from Norway. One kidnaps the bus driver and studies Grace in the rearview mirror. One puts on a skort and a bow and pretends to be a student in her science class. When the teacher explains evolution, the biologist sneers, Yeah, that’s how it works. The biologist gets a red sticker for the day, but proves her point when she tapes her Nobel Prize to a quiz.
Grace doesn’t know anything about biology or biologists except that they sit at her table in the lunchroom whispering into tape recorders when she eats her pudding.
So what are you guys into? she asks.
One of the biologists says ribosomes before being shushed. Skateboards, another says. He means skateboards.
At home, Grace unlocks the door with the key her parents leave under the mat, but there are already two people inside. They’re not her parents, they’re biologists pretending to be her parents. For dinner they serve her agar pancakes with syrup they pour out of a beaker. When Grace sneezes, the biologists tighten the straps on their oxygen masks. Lung parasites, one mutters and they both shake their heads sadly.
In her bedroom, Grace writes a list of all the things that make her Grace. When she’s asleep the biologists sneak in to read the list because it will mean the end of biology. They might go home. They might look up at the stars. They might buy skateboards. But the diary is locked and the biologists sad crawl out of her room to see if the meteorologists want to trade cumulus clouds for a girl who may or may not have lung parasites and a crush on Cory Helie.
Grace smiles in her sleep. She’s forgotten everything on the list, but knows that inside her is a small gold key, which tastes like metal, which tastes like blood.
All rights reserved to Adam Peterson.