Oh, Mondays. Everything was a blur for me and I can't wait to hop into bed and die in my sleep, so I'll talk about lunch then call it.
Though I hadn't eaten for two days, I couldn't take more than two bites of my chicken salad sandwich. The feeling of the pale mixture in my mouth reminded me of lumpy brains. Delicious, I know. I can scarcely remember the good ol' days when brains were still fascinating and mysterious thing. But a year at the damn Institute has made even the thought of grey matter kill my appetite. Just knowing there's twenty-four of them floating in a vat downstairs... ugh. Gross. Gingerly, I put down my sloppy lunch and filled the void in my stomach with coffee.SAM
Not that it does any wonders for my life.YOLANDA
Shut up, Sam. You're rubbing it in.SAM
I wouldn't dare, my dear Yolanda.
The doll-faced blonde sitting across from me rolled her eyes and reached for the sandwich on my plate.
I'd die to have my body from back in uni.
Back then, Josh couldn't get enough of me.
Meh. Not like men really care about that stuff, anyway.
At least, not after they get it in good a few times.
I don't want to hear that from someone
who hasn't even kissed a guy, yet.
Or a girl. My misanthropy doesn't discriminate.
She dug into my leftovers and chewed noisily as she continued.
Though, I'll admit you're right. You know what they say:
For every hot girl, there's a guy tired of screwing her.
Ooo, a hot girl? Where is she?YOLANDA
Hey, now! I'm a total babe and you know it.SAM
Wow, someone's feeling confident today.YOLANDA
As confident as a girl can be with a muffin top.SAM
Call them love handles.
Body fat by any other name weighs on my spirits all the same.
But you know what, I'll call them that the day they get me some lovin'.
I stood up and stretched, then walked around the table to take a seat next to Yolanda. And yes, she's still my only work friend. But by my choice, mind you. Mine alone. I leaned against my best and worst friend's shoulder and peeped down her impressive cleavage. Beauty, Yolanda. Beauty.
Have your boobs gotten bigger? My back hurts from looking.YOLANDA
Then stop looking.
But how could I stop looking at the way her chest rose and fell with every breath? Ah! What a prodigy of evolution, that lipocyte deposits around mammary glands can mesmerize all who behold them! What a miracle of the female form, that two fleshy mounds hidden behind fabric can invoke all nine Muses of Parnassus with each and every jiggle!
But I shall expound on breasts no further. I'm a woman of culture, and ass is where the shit's really at. Anyway, Yolanda sighed and adjusted her neckline. Less eye candy, more chitchat.
I think the last time Josh looked at my tits was last week,
when I was shitting naked on the toilet after Mexican night.
He was watching you shit?
Is this some new fetish?
Ew, no! The toilet paper ran out.
He was fetching me another roll.
Good boy! He's a keeper.YOLANDA
He's all yours if you want him.SAM
Nah, I have a bidet at home.
All this potty talk seemed to have little effect on Yolanda's appetite. Once the rest of the chicken sandwich was past her lips, she opened her bottle of Coke Zero and washed down the last bite.
Imagine the woman always needing to initiate sex.
Can you believe my rotten luck? What are the odds?
Don't ask me. You're the one with all the numbers.YOLANDA
Under a fifth of heterosexual relationships in America.SAM
Why do bad things happen to good people?
But I've put my foot down. We're not fucking until he comes begging for it.
You go, girl. How long's it been?YOLANDA
As of last night, two whole weeks.SAM
I wrapped an arm around Yolanda's soft waist while reaching for the thick binder on the cafeteria table. I scanned through pages and pages of diagrams and tables, flipping through quickly as my eyes skimmed through lines and labels. After Yolanda had another swig of her Coke Zero, I pointed to a bar graph.
I was meaning to ask. Is it normal for brain activity to surge this early in a new simulation?YOLANDA
Aw, is Samantha Keller back in director mode, now?SAM
Was that a deflection?
She shrugged and capped her bottle.
There's nothing to deflect, Sam.
The pulse rate was within one standard deviation of the mean.
See page two of Appendix C.
I nodded and continued my inquiry.
Your analysis was of the first twelve weeks of past simulations?YOLANDA
And you did notice that all previous surges larger than ten percent
have appeared in weeks eleven and twelve?
Well then, shouldn't we be worried?
This is the first time that activity has jumped by twenty percent in week nine.
Mmm-hmm. Your point being?
She was drumming her fingers impatiently, but I pressed on.
Specimen 13's brainwaves have always been on the volatile side.
Don't you think that its inclusion in this iteration has something to do with all this?
Yolanda clicked her tongue and shut the binder with a thud.
You bureaucrat types really love fretting over numbers, don't you?SAM
Is that really something the Head of Data Science should be saying?YOLANDA
The figures don't tell the whole story. They never have.
I sniffed and reached for the coffee mug on the other side of the table.
Haven't you been the storyteller this entire time, with us as your captive audience?
And yet, here you are telling me that the figures don't tell the whole story.
There is an entire world in that simulation, Sam. Multiple universes' worth.
Do you think that numbers can capture the complexities of even our own Earth?
Models are an estimate of reality — nothing more, nothing less.
I'm not arrogant enough to to start diagnosing reality with a model. Even if it's mine.
Look at these graphs and tell me that this looks normal.YOLANDA
My null hypothesis is that everything's fine and you're overreacting.
And I'm nowhere close to rejecting it.
Even with all this evidence right in front of you?YOLANDA
Seventeen out of the last hundred and thirty-six were higher.
I reached toward the binder to check, but stopped myself. There was no need; she was definitely right about the facts for her position.
Everything else has been completely normal, otherwise.
You know where I'm putting my money? On you being paranoid like always.
So you're really not worried at all? Not even a little?YOLANDA
Hakuna matata. You can be Timon, and I'll be Pumbaa.
She stood up with the binder and her Coke. She clapped her hand on my shoulder a bit too hard, causing me to wince.
You're being paid the big bucks to sweat the details, so you do you.
But here's my two cents, boss: there might be less talk behind your back
if you just smiled and took it easy from time to time.
And with that, she strutted away expertly on her stiletto heels. Alone, I raised my mug to my lips while grumbling.
no one here would worry about a damn thing.
When only a few bitter drops of coffee touched my lips, I stared into my empty cup until a few minutes before the end of lunch break. And during the walk back to my room, you know what I decided? I don't give a shit anymore. Smile and take it easy? Sounds good to me, Yolanda. I'll show you taking it easy, just you wait.
Alright, that's enough storytime for one day. Signing off. Bye, now.
. . .
I almost forgot: I love you. And I miss you.