Esme in the Lab (a Short Story)

Esme leaned against the sill and stared at the Eiffel tower from the window of her laboratory. She had been testing bacteria samples on different types of meat all day and longed to go outside, to get out of the hot room that was beginning to reek.

“Bonjour!” Cried the woman who set down a carrier toting two steaming cups and a greased-stained brown paper bag on the center table with a flourish. “I’ve brought you a reward for all of your hard work this week!”

“Welcome back, Helene,” said Esme, plastering a smile on her face as she turned from the window to walk toward the table. “I didn’t think you’d be back in today. How was your vacation?”

“Lovely, darling, just lovely. Henri took me to Nice. We spent time on the beach, had a lovely Champagne brunch, and can you believe he took me to a circus?” She laughed heartily, remembering. “I hadn’t been to one since I was a child!” She removed her glittering scarf, waving her hands as she spoke.

Esme smiled and reached for the bag. Seeing her hands, she paused, “I’d better wash…” She walked over to the sink.

Helene sat down, took a drink of the warm chocolate, and glanced out the window. “I’m so glad it’s not raining today. It’d be a lovely day for a walk along the park.”

“Those were my exact sentiments,” Esme replied, drying her hands on a paper towel as she walked back to the table. Dropping the towel in the waste bin, she reached for a cup and took a sip before opening the greasy bag. “OOO, my favorite!” She pulled a chocolate croissant from the bag. “I am going to need a walk after this treat,” she said chuckling.

“Oh, here…” Helene laughed again as she dug in her giant handbag. “I brought you a souvenir.” She tugged the awkward piece from her bag and threw it at Esme. It squeaked.

“What is that?” Esme shrieked. She caught and held the item upside down. She joined in Helene’s laughter as she bounced it up and down. Both pairs of eyes were riveted on the rubber chicken.

“It’s your new boyfriend,” Helene winked. “You can bring him on our next vacation together!”

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