It was a typical scientist’s birthday. I got up early to drive to a slaughterhouse and get some freshly harvested samples*, then dissected them behind my house on the garden table. At noon I packed the cake I prepared and took the train to the capital, interrupting the journey for a brief stop at my day-to-day laboratory to get some culture flasks which I just put on top of the cake.
After finally arriving at the capital I was just about to buy a metro ticket when a girl asked for loose change, telling me she was hungry. I gave her a piece of cake, she left and so did my ticket apparently, so I had to buy a new one. I was underfed, overpacked and stressed – my mood could not drop significantly anymore. I just sighed and made my way to the White Queen, who congratulated me, thus reminding me it was my birthday. A little relieved without the cells, I drove across the whole city to the Witcher’s place, where I broke down on the bed in exhaustion.
Then got up 5 minutes later to put my new samples in the fridge.
“I hope you don’t mind. I have to buffer them here tomorrow, or get up at 5 am and take to train to my lab. I know we are not supposed to do labwork at home, but I would really prefer getting some sleep tonight. Plus they are non-human for a change and I guarantee the buffering solutions are not that bad….”
“It’s okay”, he interrupted me, “I really don’t mind. Look.”
He lifted a sheet of paper on his desk to let me see what was beneath it.
“This one is human. Why are you laughing?”
“You keep it in a baking pan.”
“Well, it was the best way to protect it in the metro.”
“Since when are you into archeology?”
“They just asked me to do run some tests because they want to know what was wrong with him. I brought it here so I can start with it early on Monday morning. I don’t do labwork at home, but I don’t mind you doing so. Especially if it means having your company for a little longer.”
We got to the pub early so that I could make some last minute preparations, like organizing plates for the cakes – the Witcher would not say, but one of the wrapped gifts he brought looked suspiciously like a cake and smelled of chocolate. The first guest to arrive was the Skeleton King, then Snow White, closely followed by the Butterfly. The inner circle. Later there were also friends from my undergrad years, some of my former interns and new friends I had made at the imaging seminar. I had made the mistake of inviting a man who, although now a friend of the whole family, never really got over me. He already arrived drunk and dampened the mood in his corner of the party. Nevertheless, I was happy and overwhelmed of how many amazing friends I have and surprised by the many well-considered and sometimes even self-made presents I got.**
It was 3 am when the Witcher and I got home. I was asleep as soon as I hit the mattress.
*In this small mountain village where I grew up the butchers still do everything themselves. I love how helpful people in the countryside are. They were willing to give those parts away for free, even before they heard whose daughter I was and recognized the little girl who bought sandwiches for school there years ago. They even invited me to the back rooms so I could pick the tissue myself. I carefully avoided the subject of me being a vegetarian since I left home 10 years ago.
** I was literally surprised. Somehow since I am an adult, I don’t really associate my birthday with getting presents. The company of my friends alone would already make my day.