Tabitha received a generous dose of dopamine as she stood up and stretched lithely.
It felt good to get some work done.
She stared at the mess of neatly written notes all over her study table and smiled. Her little study table was one of her fondest possessions, it almost always meant productivity when she sat on it to work.
The table was sturdy and was neither too high nor too low. The seat beside it was cushioned but not excessively so, it was neither too hard to sore her behind nor too fluffy to be too comfortable, this too was just right.
The little table lamp on the side was also another assortment that fell into the Goldilocks-like category, it was neither blindingly bright nor too dull.
The wall to the right of her was littered with small colourful sticky notes—yellow ones for school work, mnemonics of sorts, reminders and deadlines. Green ones carried little quotes she picked up from her wide reading.
Her favourite yet was from Chinua Achebe ”If the centre piece does not hold, things fall apart”.
It was a reminder to keep her priorities in check, when trivial things came first and important things last, chaos was inevitable. It also made her aware of the areas she needed to invest more energy into, her studies and business topping the list. Such focus and order in her life made her non-spontaneous and rigid.
When her few friends skipped on buses and went to Naivasha on short notice or on the shortest notice for fun she firmly declined. Many events ranging from surprise birthday parties and friendly get-togethers had missed her presence because of this habit.
As such, her social circle remained very lean. Did she regret this? Maybe a little, but then she could not have her cake and eat it, could she?
She had covered much of the anatomy work to be covered for that week and the next.
A thrill ran through her at her mini accomplishment. She lived for such little triumphs.
Her Gray’s Anatomy text was open with a picture of the thigh and its anatomy- the hamstring muscles, the venous drainage, dermatomes and what not carefully illustrated on the coloured page. She liked this particular book because of the great detail therein. Many of her friends shied away from it for the same reason. Talk of one’s meat being another’s poison.
Her notes were neat, multi-coloured and carefully highlighted. She was meticulous in her notes writing and took pride in her neat work. Tabitha wrote her school work only on A4-sized plain papers, she had a special dislike for lined papers and even so for exercise books. The former she found too restrictive and untidy, the latter she found bulky and inconvenient.
Her notes were always written on individual papers and properly filed in folders to be retrieved on demand. She even had a colour-based system for filing her work.
Routines, systems and rules made her rigid but nonetheless, they made her productive. Routine substituted the much fickle enthusiasm when it failed. Work was done not because she wanted to do it but because it had to be done, period!
She picked up the notes carefully, punched holes in them, stapled them in two’s and filed them in the red folder. The red folder was exclusively for Human anatomy. She found the subject demanding and loud. It screamed for attention, just like the colour red.
Her physiology folder was blue. She found physiology cool but deep. The details it carried were almost ocean-floor deep. Blue was a cool colour with the right amount of depth, hue upon hue.
Biochemistry was yellow, mellow and bright but very easy to get wrong.
Behavioural science was black, that was her idea of human psychiatry, a blank space on which anything can be written yet dark enough to hide mysteries. Her other folders were less important and less thought was put into their colour and design. She was deep.
Her Bic pens were in a blue cup placed in their caps after use, she threw away any pen without its cap. She cleared her table, checked off her to-do list and sat back to read her novel more out of habit than for entertainment.
Her bedtime routine was so fixed she would never get a wink of sleep If she skipped a single step of it. She always read a book, drank a glass of water, listened to two songs as she brushed her teeth, micturated and finally she jumped in bed.
So for the next twenty or so minutes, she poured herself into Patricia Cornwell’s POST MORTEM. Intriguing-that was the only adjective she could conjure for Dr Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner of Virginia.
Powerful women intrigued her. Much more if they had beauty, brains and grace, Kay Scarpetta had all these and more. A little envy spiked in her, she had to bring herself back to reality and dismiss Kay back into her fictional world of blood, murder and scalpels, and waist-long hair.
She drew her curtains a little and stared at the neighbour’s house.
From her bedroom window, she got a glimpse of their house once in a while. She was not given to much nosiness but a particular curiosity overtook her of late.
During the week she rarely got any view of the house but weekends were a treat. The family left the windows open and curtains were never drawn as they played games and sang songs late into the night.
Tabitha felt uneasy whenever she realized such a life was elusive, especially now that she had divorced Douglas. Her heart contracted at the sad memories she was left with.
The neighbours had three boys all younger than ten if her estimation was right. The dad was always playing games and laying on the floor. The wife was always laughing.
Tabitha wondered how a single human being could laugh so much. She could almost perfectly imitate her laugh.
The former always arched her chest forward, lifted her head up like a wolf and shook ungraciously. Tabitha never heard the voices but she had a voice in her head for each.
On this day, the curtains were drawn; no entertainment for her. With her teeth brushed and her bathroom affairs done, Tabby was in bed fifteen minutes later and asleep within five.
In another part of town, Anita was not having a tranquil evening like Tabitha.
Far from it.
She was bruising an injured ego and an overwhelming sense of insufficiency. Mark was dead asleep in the bedroom and she felt angry that he was so peaceful.
Her anatomy laboratory session that day had left her feeling scorned and insecure.
Why oh why was she in such a mess? What was she to do?
She covered her eyes with her hand and tried to massage the fatigue away.
The silence around her was heavy. She needed a plan and she needed one fast!