• Joe Sikoryak

The Laboratory

Updated: Mar 21

Writing a memory doesn't necessarily change it — but it can deepen it.


As a warm-up to my graphic novel (currently in progress), I've enrolled in a writing workshop with my former drama coach Suze Allen. It's amazing how the stories that we tell others can morph and develop when you set them down on paper.


Not to get too meta, but here's a recollection from my youth that underwent a key transformation when I decided to write about it.


= = = =


Deep beneath the earth, we didn’t know whether the sun was shining or not. But we had our monitor on at all time, its grainy cathode ray tube casting a blue-grey light over the three of us. It was a comforting glow, one that didn’t require our full attention. In any event, it wasn’t sufficient.


Sitting straight at his banged-up desk, Steve worked hard to solve another puzzle. This one was taking longer than most, involving precise calculation and a certain amount of imagination. No doubt he’d solve it, eventually. He always did. Damn him.


Sprawled on the floor as he preferred, Rob sketched furiously as if to capture his ideas in flight, before they soared away. His colored pencils flashed across the large paper, filling large swathes of bold color that would grow more and more recognizable. He’s onto something.


I hunched into the small table, the toluene fumes mixing with sweat as my labors took shape. Slicing the flash and cutting the sprue that held fast the exact replica that I was constructing. Carefully applying the cement to every pin and socket. I hate the process—but I am motivated for results.


The monitor blared a familiar fanfare: the Rabbit was back. We all paused in our labors to see how he would fare. Dynamite? Anvils? Shotguns? He shrugged them off with a wisecrack. The mood in the lab brightened. We shared a laugh and resumed our work.


The clatter of aluminum and porcelain rose up from the background. There were footsteps above us, a door slamming, then another door opening The smell of onions and tomato filled the air.


“Boys, supper’s ready. Get washed up and come upstairs!”


The moment hung heavily in the air. Our experiments weren’t over— they’d have to wait for another day. One by one we secured our workstations, compared notes, shared our progress. And shut down the lab for the night.


Tomorrow is another day in the lab.


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