Chapter 1: Hope

14th November 2023 | 19 Views

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                              Her POV

            A loud splash brings me out of my daze.Lily was saying something before jumping off a 3 m springboard and diving into the turquoise water below. She had called me this afternoon to the training center saying she has to tell me something important.

It took her a few minutes to reach the side of that Olympic sized swimming pool – where I was standing.
“um, sorry I couldn’t hear you”
Lily-my one of the very few tolerable co-workers looked at me, unamused at my lack of attention.

“Grace,I said that next time we might be able to bring the exact species you are looking for”

“what?!” I doubted my ears. Eyes wide with surprise.

“Ok,for the third time”she said moving her hands in a weird motion and emphasizing each word like explaining to a kid “Keep this a secret, but we went kind of far this time, somewhere we probably weren’t allowed an-” I cut her off mid sentence anger and worry lacing my voice,”You shouldn’t have gone to the restricted area Lily. It could have been dangerous” 

 It is indeed dangerous and I don’t want anyone to get hurt.People’s lives are more important than my goal.But here she is, so carefree and unbothered,
“Oh,my sweet child. You can’t be so scared of everything all the time. You gotta be braver than that” how do I tell her that sometimes that bravery brings your doom. 

 Sensing my mood, she continues “But hey, I am glad we went there cause we have run that new specimen through some analysis and the results showed great similarity with your data. We are so close to bringing the exact thing you are looking for” 

I still can’t believe it . After two and half years of aimlessly wandering underwater, We are finally getting closer to achieving our goal. Now there’s hope. 

I smile, genuinely for the first time in what felt like forever.

“Thank you Lily, you guys have worked really hard” they did work hard. 
Lily and Jules-my team mates and both experienced master scientific divers- continuously did underwater search missions to find a research sample-An unknown organism,non existant almost.They searched for it just based on my hypothetical data and what’s even more impressive is that- they might bring the exact species next time. 

Still kinda floating in the water,Lily grins looking a lil smug, “You know what Grace, You should personally submit the report to prof. Fernandes just to see the look on his face. I bet it’d be priceless.” 

   Oh, What wouldn’t I give to see the look on his face- that man has been bullying me ever since we started working on this project and this is a perfect opportunity to rub it in his face, Lily knows that.

The reason for his hatred-I do not follow his guidelines.In my defence,that man doesn’t know how research works-he published papers copying off someon else’s work calling it references.He doesn’t put any efforts but wants the whole credit. Unfortunately for him and me, he is stuck being my mentor-for my freaking PhD project and I put hell lot of efforts in my work be it  taking calculated risks or going lengths to collect research sample. Simply put he has to work extra hard because of a ‘naive girl ‘ like me who doesn’t listen to his single thing.There might even be another factors such as me not being a kiss ass to feed his ego or me being an overachiever or me just being a girl.

I bet that hurts his ego, hence the constant bullying and taunting, about how I am wasting the institute resources and everyone’s time by sending a team of divers to look for something that doesn’t exist or how naive I am to put efforts in a hypothesis.He loves to drag me down. 
I won’t have to put up with this excuse of a mentor for long though,with results this good it’ll probably take only six more months to complete the whole thing.

We decide to celebrate this with a dinner-Lily, Jules and me. Thanking her again I wave goodbye to Lily as she resumes her daily set of training swinging her feet and diving underwater. I miss doing that. Being underwater. But I might never be able to do that again.I shiver at the thought. 
Think postive.
Be optimistic.

Right, I remind myself that I am a step closer to my dream now. I am happy ,really really happy. My whole body brimming with excitement.Years since I felt this good and it’s because of my work.Early morning and late nights spent in laboratory working on my research project has kept me busy enough to not  think of any horrible memories or depressing thoughts.
It has kept me sane. And I never thought that this place would grow on me slowly to be my new sanctury.
Things are finally progressing. I hope nothing goes wrong.

At around 8 O’clock, almost three hours later since I started working- arranging all data, analysis results that Jules had e mailed me and cross checking it all before I prepare final report.I don’t want to give Mr.Fernandes even a tiny chance to humiliate me by pointing out mistakes.

There’s a click sound of door opening and someone barges into my room without knocking-it has to be my older cousin Archer,it is.
“Oi, Dad wants you down in 10 for dinner.”
He barked an order and left without waiting for my reply and without even closing the door.

I spring up from bed closing the laptop and making my way to wardrobe to look more ‘presentable’ as aunt Marie would want me to,cause apparently uncle Ben is home-a big deal considering he is never home. Always busy. The rich and powerful man that he is keeps him engaged in meetings,oversea trips and business parties. I hate him.
So such ‘family dinners’ – if I can call it one, are super rare. Cause Bennett Clemonte doesn’t care about his family at all from what I know of him. But so doesn’t aunt Marie-he is rich is all she cares.Idk about Archer and I’m definately not a family. Does it matter ?
It is a dinner and I am famished.
                      ┐( ̄ヘ ̄)┌
The dining room is cream colored. A big rectangular dining table with plush rug underneath sits in the middle, intricate golden patterns sculpted on it. A blinding chandelier dangles from above, reflected  light shining through wine glasses and cutlery,giving the whole room a fancy restaurant vibe and nothing like home.

I pull my chair away quietly greeting aunt Marie, she does the same with a tight smile.Archie flops down next to me beside uncle’s seat which is currently unoccupied because of course ‘the world revolves around me’ man is going to be fashionably late while we nobodies wait for him.

C’mon old man. I’m dying of hunger and aunt wouldn’t let me start until you arrive.’the head of the family must eat first’, her words. Said man arrives in his crisp navy suit gazing the table before he finally sits down.We all greet him and he gives a small nod in return. 
There is a long awkward silence. 
This feels exactly like the first time we had dinner together. Nerves were wrecking me then,nerves are wrecking me still now.
Just focus on the delicious food. 

The maids placed our food on the table one by one, it’s aroma wafting through air, already watering my mouth.
My joy is short lived as I notice the food placed before us. Balsamic and rosemary marinated steak, smoked salmon pasta-archer loves it, some kind of a green mushroom soup that oddly reminds me of the nasty smelling overgrown algal culture we discarded last week in lab. Lastly, roasted vegetable salad is placed right in front of me and I can practically smell the fish sauce dressing. 
Either they don’t know that I am a vegetarian even after living together for almost 3 years or they do know but they just don’t care. I can’t seem to decide which is more horrible. 
What has my life come to? I can’t even have a proper meal. 

I stare at the only thing I can eat-the soup, suddenly I don’t feel so hungry anymore. The whole dinner uncle talks with Archie about some business thingy with aunt occasionally chirping in, urging them both to eat more. While my stomach is grumbling in protest but then again ‘men should eat loads, us women can stay empty stomached ‘ is what aunt’s philosophy is. 
Men-I hate them.But, I hate women more.

The dinner is almost over and I barely ate few spoonfuls.I am startled when uncle calls my name, “Grace, I have something important to tell you” I stop swirling the soup with my spoon and he continues ” Meet me in my study. Now”

Aditi Huse



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