From 642 Things to Write About:
“Go to a cafe and closely watch two people interact. Then write a scene about two people in a cafe.”
Where she notices little things about people, he notices little things about numbers.
They met in class on a warm Tuesday. She doesn’t understand chemistry, but she’ll fight through it to get to nursing school–that’s where he comes in. He’s been a scientist since he was mixing baking goods together in his grandmother’s kitchen at age four. He sees, with crisp clarity, the makeup of and abbreviation of Fluoride and explains it all to her, patiently. He doesn’t spend much time outside a computer screen, but for some reason, he’s here with her now drinking a hot mocha and explaining magnesium chloride in between sips. He watches every stroke of her pen.
Every so often she interjects with a (wrong) answer or a (right) interpretation of just how insane their professor is. “She told everyone to shut up in class the other day,” she says, reaching for something to break the electron-induced silence that’s overcome them both after an hour or so of solid, dubiously productive work.
“I guess I missed that,” he replies, because people aren’t made of numbers.
She laughs at something she says–laughs at herself, which he’s never been able to do. He chuckles with her, and the sounds harmonize. They sit close. She leans forward toward his notebook, toward his arm. They latch eyes for a split second between balancing equations.
Perhaps chemistry is more human than either of them grasped until now.