16 February, 2018
Scientists meet in the library
It's snowing outside, but the library is nice and warm. There are a number of plush armchairs near one of the big windows, with a good view of the thick white flakes drifting slowly through the air. Ardis sits in one, right leg thrown over her left. She's reading a book, which it looks like she's almost to the end of, though there's a few more scattered next to her, all about insects. Completely absorbed. There's a mug of coffee getting cold on a small round table in dark wood to one side of her. She has a white T-shirt on with some cartoony drawings and the words 'DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE GIRL WHO WENT SEARCHING FOR THE LAST UNMEDIATED EXPERIENCE?' on the front, sleeves rolled up, paired with a suede skirt, white socks, and boots.
Bronwyn has been lost in the local folklore section - quite a large one for such a small library. She emerges from the darkness with a bundle of books and seems quite surprised to see another soul in here. And she's reading! "Hello" she greets softly - it is a library after all. She moves a couple of books around enough to offer her hand. "Doctor Bronwyn Gallagher. Nice to see another reader. Just let me get these out of my hands." The books, all about folk tales, is placed on a nearby table before Bronywn tries to get a little blood flowing in her arm again. She is wearing desert boots, slacks and a shirt. Her jacket over the back of one of the tables. "Sorry about that" she smiles, returning to the other woman and pushing her glasses back up her nose. "Oh...I'm not interrupting, am I?"
When Bronwyn appears and addresses her, Ardis looks up, perhaps startled. Large, round, dark eyes. They look quite black, but perhaps it's just the lamplight. Straightaway, a big, bright smile spreads over her face. Perhaps a little too wide, as if she doesn't quite know how to manage her expressions. "Of course not, Doctor," she answers. Ardis puts her hand out for a shake and says, "Doctor Ardis Ardeid. Pleased and enchanted to meet you in the flesh!"
"Pleased /and/ enchanted?" Bronwyn blushes a little. "I didn't realise I made that much of an impression. Wait...in the flesh? You have heard of me? I didn't think anthropologists were that famous." A glance at the books that Ardis is reading. "Etymologist? Are you a local?" She moves to sit down on a chair she drags over...quietly. "Mind if I sit?" Bronwyn does anyway.
"I like to read," says Ardis. "Everything, really. But especially science. All kinds of science. Yes, please sit." She leans forward for a better view of Bronwyn as the other doctor pulls in her chair. She's clutching the latest volume of Palaearctic Coleoptera on her lap, eyes shining. "Your last article in Cultural Anthropology was quite fascinating!" After a moment, she seems to recall that Bronwyn asked her something else and so she answers, "It depends on what you mean by 'local.'"
"Oh...wow...you read that? Thank you." Bronwyn seems quite pleased at the praise...and blushing about it too. "Now I feel bad that I've never read any of your work. I will rectify that error as soon as possible" she promises with a smile. "In the meantime, let me get you a warmer cup of coffee. And I meant 'local' in that you were born and raised here. I'm doing research on the local folklore traditions. Quite...interesting. I was wondering if you knew about them. If not...I'm sure we can talk about something else." One of her fingers idly twirling a strand of hair, though it is tied back for now.
"No need to feel bad," Ardis answers, still smiling. The same broad, white smile. "It's quite specialized. Only read it if it interests you." She bounces one foot a little, peering through the warm yellow spill of lamplight at Bronwyn. "No, I'm not ==that== local, I'm afraid, Doctor Gallagher. I'm from Bow, over the border in New Hampshire." She laughs. "Local relative to those who come from outside the region, but perhaps not local enough to assist you in your research!"
"Oh well. I should have guessed you weren't local. You're talking to me. Most of the locals, though friendly, don't really want to talk...deeply? Does that make sense?" Bronwyn asks before slipping off to grab them some fresh coffees. She returns quickly. "And call me Bron if you like. That's probably not fair about /all/ locals. There was one who was quite forthcoming though she had a few problems." A pause. "Which I probably shouldn't be mentioning to you" she smiles. "Anyway, where was I?"
Ardis considers this suggestion, tipping her head to one side and resting her chin briefly in one hand. "Hmmm. Yes, I think I know what you mean!" She accepts the coffee with a nod, taking it in both hands and blowing on the black surface a little to cool it down enough to drink. "Thank you," she says. "You're a wonder... Bron." She takes a first sip of the coffee, then seems content just to hold it for a little while, looking over her interlocutor. She has a deep, slightly raspy voice, as if perhaps she smokes quite a bit. "You have some sort of research going on? With the locals?"
"I am trying to" Bronwyn nods about her research. "I have a name, a local gossip who also wrote a book on the folklore here, but I've been unable to get an appointment. Sometimes, I wonder if they're purposefully trying to hide it all." A shrug. "A silly idea, I know. Did work bring you here, Doctor Ardeid?" Another glance at the books. "Looks like you can't leave it behind even if not. And I know how that feels."
"Ardis is fine," says Ardis. She smiles again. "I wouldn't want to leave my work behind. Would you? I spend my attention on what I love best." She smooths the cover of Palaearctic Coleoptera with one hand. "Do you mean Enid?" she asks. "I've heard she's quite difficult to meet... "
"Yes...Enid. You know her? Obviously she would be a wonderful primary resource from my research but...if I don't get to meet her then that tells me things as well" Bronwyn shrugs. "Ardis it is. No, I can't leave my work behind either. Though I think I annoy people a little more than you. I'll walk into a bar and I'm analysing everyone straight away. I...I don't make a lot of friends that way."
That brings an odd kind of look into Ardis' face, just for a moment. What is that-- Is she... Sad? Worried? It's hard to say, because the emotion flashes so quickly through those large black eyes. Maybe what Bronwyn said reminded her of something. "You don't know me well yet," she says, gently. "But I don't find it annoying to think." Then her smile is back, just as wide as ever it was. "There are a number of important local families, aren't there? Have you met any of them? Like the Garreaus or the Millers, or the Lefevres, or the Alexanders?"
"That person I mentioned who was happy to tell me things about herself. She is a Garreau. But estranged at the moment. Long story. So...no...I haven't been able to talk to any of the families about anything. Do you know anyone who would be good to talk to?" Bronwyn asks before blowing over her coffee and taking a sip. "Are they the kind of families that hold sway over everyone else? You know, keep control over what people say to strangers? That would be very interesting in itself."
Ardis looks thoughtful, considering this information. "I know C.B. Alexander, the writer. But he didn't grow up here... He was raised in Maine, I think. He's like me-- A New Englander, but perhaps not local enough for you. His partner is a Garreau, too, though. Perhaps she knows more?" She thinks a little more about what Bronwyn has said, sipping her coffee, then adds, "I have heard that the families tend to pass down certain stories and traditions that are specific to the family, but I don't know what they are."
"And will they appreciate a nosy outsider asking about them?" Bronwyn smirks. "Oh well, it's not as if I haven't had to deal with this in the past. At least these people can speak English...can't they? I've met him...CB Alexander. He runs the communist bar? Sounds like I need to try him too. Hmm...wonder why he wasn't forthcoming when I was there?"
Ardis laughs. "C.B. Alexander is just a cranky old man in a young man's body," she says. "He's in a bad mood a lot of the time, and he can be rude. But if you ask him for help, he'll usually give it to you." She winks. "Along with a lot of complaining!" She glances at her watch, then starts piling her books together. Ardis picks them up and stands, tucking the books under her arm and picking up her coffee. She holds her free hand out to Bronwyn to shake again. "I've got to get back, but it's been so good to meet you, Bron. Your research sounds fascinating!"
Bronwyn stands to shake the offered hand. "I hope we can see each other again...and I'll give CB another try. Bad moods are worse with headhunters. Thanks for the conversation. Have a good night."
"Good night," says Ardis. "Thank you for the coffee." She shakes Bronwyn's hand, quite warmly, and gives her another bright smile before heading toward the exit, pile of insect books in hand.