Reeny and Pam


She wants to write a history of the world. Sometimes the history expands: a description and history of the solar system, or the universe. At those moments she almost can see the universe expand too, and she feels equations beckoning.

Astrophysics calls her then.

Sometimes the history contracts: she’ll watch a word’s form change, hear its vowels shorten or elongate, know how it was first used to describe a phenomenon; feel the original analogies and actions creating a language. For a brief moment she’ll understand why a language is highly inflected, or how another agglutinates. At those times she knows she’s a linguist or archeologist.

Sometimes history contracts still further, and she’ll ache to describe the particulars of a single day, or the actions and perceptions of one being then, and there. That’s when each cloud imprints sharply on her eyes, or she identifies thousands of different scents. That’s when she longs for other senses, each capable of cataloging an instant.

How does scent work, she’ll wonder. How can a chemical hit her nose or tongue and evoke memory and emotion.

Somehow sight is less mysterious.


Like and unlike her sister. That’s the way she’ll describe herself to others. But she’ll think: of course “like” of course “different.” Reeny and I are both people, we are close in age. Of course we are alike. How silly to notice that.

But there is a thread between them. Both have sudden and demanding models that they are compelled to express.

Pamela’s models are almost exclusively visual. They parade in front of her mind’s eye, showing structure. That’s why she’ll go to Melbourne. It’s in Melbourne that she’ll find the doyenne of protein structure. It’s in Melbourne that she’ll finally allow herself to build equipment.

Oddly, she’ll say that it was because of the dog. Loulou’s similarity to herself left her wondering how she differed from him. And every night she’d dream a different shape. At least, each morning she was sure that’s what she dreamed.

How does scent work, Pam would wonder. Why does it work so differently in me than in Reeny, and why does it work so consciously in our hunting friend.

What would scent consciousness be like?

The dog would nap near the girls as each thought mused meandered about how a dog’s nose could be so clear.

What do proteins smell like? Reeny would wonder. What is Loulou’s day like? Does he dream in smells? Does he hear things that evoke smells?

What is Loulou thinking? Pam would ask herself. How do smells shape themselves? Why can he perceive the history of a scent? Does it move? What is its shape?

Loulou’s a dog. His memories trouble him as he sleeps. In the morning sometimes he notices an emptiness that breakfast won’t fill. Reeny would’ve asserted that the hole was Loulou’s memories of Lydia Stroud. She would have said that sometimes the dog remembered, and what he remembered was sorrow.

Pam would have seen, however briefly, the image that memory placed before Loulou.

For both of them, though this would be imagination at work. At least that’s what they’d think.

Reeny did come very close to experiencing memory as Loulou did. Pam came even closer to perceiving the construction of memories. That would be her work: the chemical structure of memory.

Reeny would daydream about the disciplines she’d need to write her history of the world or of a day. Would she be able to extrapolate from a day to the entire life of the cosmos? Would it work the other way?

Pam would find Hermetic philosophy and pass it along to her older sister. “This is what you’ve been telling me: the larger holds and reflects the smaller. As above, so below.” Pam was joking though, she thought it entirely nonsense. Will Reeny agree? Reeny wants to find correspondences. Reeny wants all histories to be one history. Of course then particular moments will demand her attention, and she’ll know yet again that each difference is a universe itself. “Is everything fractal?” was the question she asked herself for more than two years.

Is nothing fractal? How long is the coastline? Can I hear a new cove? Where is it?

“Honestly” she said to her mother one morning: “honestly, why don’t people accept tiny differences construct our daily interactions? Why are people so grumpy when today and yesterday differ? Why the fear of change?”

After all, we age in one direction. Maybe two would be more fun, but our senses don’t work like that. If they did we’d be different. What’s the problem?

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