Puddles of Sodium
A driving sleet is splattering the rows of unsealed windows in my Anatomy and Physiology lab, dripping over the cockeyed signs that proclaim the college is committed to maintaining a safe environment and to dispose of waste materials in the biohazard bins. I’ll stare at the same signs in Chem lab this afternoon.
Today, pinned to our dissecting tray is the exoskeleton of a baby shark exposing its internal organs.
Despite the plastic goggles, my eyes already sting from the embalming materials. For some reason, all the guys in this lab wear flannel and I want to wipe my tears with the tails of their shirts.
My lab partner chuckles, I lean my elbows on the black-chipped counter to take a peak. He is skewering the stomach tissue and swears as he tweezers out a glob of tissue and hair—the shark’s last meal. My cheeks are quivering from squinting at slender threads of arteries and veins. I sigh heavily. “What is this?”
The cute teacher’s assistant hurries over, slings off his goggles, and rocks excitedly on his wartime metal stool. The class is now a crowd “oohing” and “ahhing”, faces deep inside our splayed shark.
Some are kneeling on the stools, some are kneeling on the table. I step back and all I can see is a blurred cloud of red and black flannel and the soles of hiking boots, imprinted with the heavy blue-tinged brine of road salt. I absent-mindedly try breaking down the formula. NaCl, CaCl2, or maybe MgCl2.
Someone yells, “tooth!” and the crowd erupts into cheers.