Interview

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The back of the chair leaned a little too far forward. There was another chair, more ergonomic with an adjustable back and seat. He gestured towards the new age contraption and his sister sat down relieved. “Shall we start?” Her not...

The back of the chair leaned a little too far forward. There was another chair, more ergonomic with an adjustable back and seat. He gestured towards the new age contraption and his sister sat down relieved.

“Shall we start?” Her notepad set on a fresh page and her trusty bic firmly placed in her right hand.

“Yes”, his body was slightly contorted from the chair. He made himself as comfortable as he possibly could. It didn’t bother him as much as it would his sister had she had the misfortune of sitting in this particular chair.

“Okay, I think I’m going to tape this. As you well know physics isn’t my strong point.”

“It’s funny the newspaper didn’t choose someone who has more experience reporting scientific discoveries”.

“You’d think”, she said sarcastically, “it’s probably something to do with you being this wonderful maverick of a scientist and me being an established journalist with a weekly column”. She looked at the tape recorder and was annoyed with herself that she had forgotten her own so had to borrow a colleague’s. “Who knows eh. Right I think this is the record button if I remember correctly”. Her face was contorted struggling to figure out a simple piece of technology.

“I can help if you like”, his voice did not emulate concern but rather a hint of sarcasm.

“No it’s fine. It’s this button”, she presses the large red button and lets out a huge sigh. “So firstly congratulations. I mean well done on this amazing new discovery. A huge achievement in physics.”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Can you explain a little bit about you and what you do?”

“I’m a Physicist. I work at Collins University as a Researcher and Lecturer. I have three degrees from Cambridge and Stanford. “ She anticipated more from him and realised this interview was going to test her as much as he tested her during their youth.

“Anything else you’d like to add, your interests?”

“Science is my life. I honestly don’t know what I else I would do with my time”

“You must have hobbies. Going for walks. Travel, you much like to travel. Did you enjoy America for example?”

“You know I hated America. I’m not sure why you’re speaking to me as if you have just only met me today?” he became agitated with the interrogative questions.

“It’s so I can make sure what I write is from you and not my interpretation”.

It has been seven years since they last spoke. Seven years since they spent that weekend at their parent’s house. He had been spending his last few days at home in London before he was to travel to California and study for his PHD in Astrophysics. They had been a few phone conversations here and there. Most of their communication involved emails ending with ‘Regards’, including the arrangement of the interview. Their communication was so rare that she had to hear about her brother’s achievements via her editor who happened to be a bit of a self confessed science geek on the side. Now siting in the mundane meeting room situated in the department where he worked they sat in palpable unease.

“Let’s move past that whole hobby thing shall we?” Her arms gestured in a sweeping position almost stabbing herself in the eye with her trusty bic.

“You need to be more careful. You’ll hurt yourself like that”.

She chuckled under her breath and sounded, “Some things never change do they”.

“No they don’t”

“Thanks for your concern.” She stood up and kicked off her heels and sat down with one of her legs perched underneath the weight of her body. “Can you tell me more about this discovery?”

“It’s not a sexy discovery as they say. Or as my mentor Dr. Hannigan says from time to time. But it changes how we see astrophysics signify…” The phone rings.

“I am so sorry,” She grabs her iPhone from her handbag and glances at the shimmering screen. He notices the background picture on the screen is their mother. “Yep I’m going to have to get this. You don’t mind, do you?”

“No I don’t. That’s a picture of Mum.”

“Yes it is. On her 50th, remember. I’m going have to take this. I’ll just be outside.” He nods to confirm it’s fine.

He paced the room waiting for his sister to enter. The window stretched almost across the length of the room. The sun was setting fast creating a twilight darkness in the room. Beyond the window lined the Physics department in its stoic architecture. Beyond that the Humanities department resided. You could always tell where the students studied from their attire and conversation.

He reached over to the light switch as his sister entered the room.

“I’m so sorry”, her eyes presented evidence of tears and the red lines that cased her eyes were noticeable. “Can we do this another time?”

“What’s happened?” he didn’t really want to know but he had learnt that was the appropriate way to respond to a situation like this.

“Nothing, nothing good anyway. Maybe we should be normal for a change.” the tone of her voice switched to a kindness familiar to him. “Maybe we should go for dinner or something. So we can catch up properly.”

“My flat is close by”

“That would be nice.” She picked up her bag and put her shoes on. “Shall we go?”

“I should probably let my colleagues know. I’ll meet you at reception. Give me 10 minutes. It shouldn’t take much longer than that.”

She let herself out and quipped under her breath “You’re always so precise”

He decided to say his good byes before heading to his office to collect his belongings.

“Bye Dr Hannigan”, he gestured his palm towards him.

“Oh you’re off already”, he struggled to meet his gaze as he continued to read what seems like an incredible amount of paper. He never understood how someone he respected so highly could be so visibly disorganised. “How was the interview?”, trying to seem interested in his day.

“Fine, I’ll see you tomorrow at the 11.30 meeting, yes?”.

“That’s right.” He finally looked towards him standing in the doorway. “See you there.” A smile stretched across his face.

As soon as he opened the door to his office, he sat down in his prized chair. Bought purely for its comfort, durability and aesthetics. It fitted his office and his tall physique perfectly. He collected the essays that needed marking and popped in a couple of journals for his regular nightly read before bed. As he zipped his rucksack, he quickly glanced at the portrait of his mother and father that sat on his desk. It wasn’t large, or even particularly obvious. He did not make it a habit to look at the picture for long as to not feel anything he was afraid of feeling.

Like he promised, he took 9 minutes and 40 seconds. She took it upon herself to time him. “You were right, look at the stopwatch. Less than 10 minutes”. She pointed her iPhone close to his face. He laughed. The first sign of joy she seen all afternoon. She knew he’d like it.

“So where is it you live?”

It’s a 23-minute walk if done briskly. It’s towards the east of the river”.

“It’s so lovely round here. You’re so lucky to work here”

“It’s not luck”, he said abruptly.

“Fine it’s not luck. It’s a blessing,” she whispered casually as if she knew he would respond as he did.

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