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One sunny morning in August, Miss Parker saw her life in a teacup.

For four points, she thought, describe Miss Parker in terms of kinetic theory.

Always bristling, always itching to break free. And yes, when you turned up the heat, she indeed intensified. Reactive? Definitely so. An acid in her own right. Heavier-than-air and capable of coming down like a ton of bricks. Evaporated into invisibility at will; condensed with just the right amount of carefully applied pressure.

Freezing point for Miss Parker: not known.

Melting point for Miss Parker: non existent. (or so she liked to think)

Boiling point for Miss Parker: witnessed too few (or perhaps too many) times to be sure.

Uncertainty principle; it is impossible to specify simultaneously the position and momentum of such, with precision.

Chaos theory; ordered systems break down into chaotic ones.

Catastrophe theory; yielding to strain.

Everything had a rule. Rules, of course, were made to be broken; they had no use, otherwise. Rule-breaking was a law in itself, and the mechanics of her life were relatively simple. Life at the Centre was like…

… inertia. (Going, going, just keeps going… needs a hell of a force before it can change course)

… elasticity. (A bump in the road, a shift in balance, but everything eventually returns status quo)

… living in a teacup.

As she stirred the half teaspoon of sugar – usually she went without, but she also usually never drank tea – she stared blankly into the deep scalding water.

The Centre was a solvent. It seemed impossible that it could reach a point where it could be deemed saturated; it just kept drawing people in and breaking their existence up into lonely particles. Pieces of a whole that could never feel complete again.

One sunny morning in August, Miss Parker saw her life in a teacup.


Sapphires were not as strong as diamonds. Diamonds were only useful for looking pretty and for breaking other diamonds.

Miss Parker’s eyes were not sapphires, and they were not diamonds.

Sapphire-diamonds glared, and it was cold fire. A chemical, ice-hot heat radiated from their core and it was sharp and fortifying.

It melted, and it froze. It evaporated and boiled and brought everything back to a liquid state.

(Free without being free; flowing and changing, yet restricted in every sense of the word…)

Viscosity was slow and stealthy like honey and rapid and defiant like water.

Sapphire-diamonds were cold fire, and they were oil.


Miss Parker was sleek and graceful.

Miss Parker was elusive.

Miss Parker was a shade of grey.

Miss Parker was liquid at room temperature.

Miss Parker defied logic.

Miss Parker was Mercury.


A kiss was an electrical current, a transfer of energy, and an attraction of opposite polarities. A glance was the same.

(Time was a period; character was a construction of necessity and choice, the rest came down to habit)


A word, a construction. Four different atoms formed a molecule capable of acting in unpredictable ways. Radiated different waves of different lengths and strengths. A phone call was an act of gravity, and it all relied on the weight of the truth.

The chemistry of reason was consequence.

Love was an element in its purest form, but it was rarer than anything. What the majority of mankind knew was not love but a mere alloy of magnetism, affection and dependency.

Love was a gas, a cloud, lighter-than air.

Miss Parker was liquid at room temperature.


Miss Parker was a strong woman of steel resolve, a tongue like quicksilver and a platinum heart pumping blood of liquid rubies.

Heat rose and Miss Parker kept her feet on the ground at all times. (and her hand on her gun)

She needed oxygen to burn but breathlessness was her weapon. She was a sculpture of potential and yet her existence was kinetic.

For four points, she thought, describe Miss Parker in terms of kinetic theory.

She drank and she ate and she slept; she reacted to stimuli and she was alive. Miss Parker was a real substance.

Miss Parker was a network of living cells, even though she was dead inside.

Miss Parker was emotionless science and Miss Parker was cold, harsh reality.

The Centre was bacteria, a microorganism, a fatal disease and it all came back to inertia.

Inertia, and a teacup.


As she poured herself some more hot water, Miss Parker burned herself in the steam (latent heat, hidden – forever there though you don’t always know it), but she didn’t try to ice the sting away.

Because that, painful as it may be, was the winter-warm sting of hope. And without hope, there could be no survivors.

(Miss Parker is a survivor)


Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness and captivity would, without this comfort, be insupportable.

- Samuel Johnson


Sapphire-diamonds reflected the light and drunk in the shadows. They were resolute and all-knowing; they were guarantee and they were chance.

One sunny morning in August, Miss Parker saw her life in a teacup.

But she saw the world in its steam.

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