Wonder 46

4601

The clinic gave me a research day. I’d heard that some of the old volumes in the library discussed folk cures using mushrooms, and we were interested in seeing if what they found could offer any new directions for our work.

Jeanette Hairston, one of my friends from high school, was there, reading a romance novel.

4602

“How’ve you been, Jeanette?” I asked.

“All right,” she replied. “I just got a job.”

“You did? That’s fantastic!”

4604

“You don’t even know what kind of job it is,” she replied. “How do you know it’s fantastic?”

4603

“What if I hated my job? What if I worked for some creep who bullied me or asked me to do things that were demeaning? What if I had to do stuff for my job that went against my principles? What if it were a job that made me feel like an objectified commodity? How can you know ‘it’s fantastic’ when you don’t even know what it is?”

“Uh, sorry,” I said.”Is it any of those things?”

4605

“No,” she replied. “It’s actually a pretty decent job. It’s in business.”

“Oh,” I said. “Ok. That’s… that’s something?”

4606

Jeanette’s lunch hour was over, and I took a few deep breaths after she headed back to her office. The next few hours raced by–I was discovering some really fascinating history of the uses of fungal compounds with porcine livestock.

The more I read about pork, the hungrier I got. As evening came, I decided to call it a day. Leaving the library, I ran into one of my patients from yesterday.

“You’re looking great!” I told the red-haired waitress. “How’re you feeling?”

She said she felt really relaxed and healthy.

“Usually, I feel a little wound up,” she said, “but ever since yesterday, I’ve just felt so calm.”

“That’s to be expected, actually,” I replied. “Reishi, which is one of the mushrooms in the compound, is known to calm anxiety.”

4607

I headed across the courtyard to the café to grab a snack before catching the ferry.

Eva was there.

“Not now, Charlie,” she said, as I started to detail what I’d learned from my research. “I’m trying to forget the office!”

She introduced me to a few of her acquaintances, Cassandra Goth, whom I recognized as our hostess from the restaurant that Yuki took me to, and Sonia Burgos.

4608

“I don’t mind hearing about your research,” Cassandra said. “I’m an amateur historian.”

4609

While Cassandra and I were sharing trivia about ancient recipes for pork, Yuki walked in.

“Hey, Yuk,” I said.

“Save it,” she said back, looking really tense. I wished I’d had some reishi compound to give her right then.

Our research project manager came in, too.

“We aren’t talking about the project, are we, Cups?” he said.

“No! Certainly not!” I answered, though, truthfully, it was pretty much all I ever thought about or talked about these days.

4610

It was a good reminder, though—there are millions of topics! There are as many topics of conversation as there are thoughts in people’s heads.

Luna arrived, and Malcolm Landgraab entertained us with stories about cars that got stuck in weird places: culverts, cul-de-sacs, blind alleys, wharfs, swamps. Some of the stories were so bizarre that even Yuki forgot her tension and began to chuckle, though Luna was not amused, and I was skeptical.

4611

I nearly missed the last ferry. Thankfully, the research project manager found me dozing at a corner table and roused me in time to make the quick sprint down to the dock before the final whistle blew as the ferry pulled out into the bay.

4612

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