By Connie Willis
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If it weren’t for an old well, filled up with stones, it would be impossible to even locate the spot. Cows, not being interested in stones, wander lazily across and around the source, munching buttercups and Queen Anne’s lace, unaware that anything significant is beginning beneath their feet. Science is even less obvious. It starts with an apple falling, a teakettle boiling. Alex Fleming, taking a last glance around his lab as he left for a long weekend, wouldn’t have seen anything significant in the window left half open, in the sooty air from Paddington Station drifting in.
And now with the addition of grunge’s faded flannel shirts and thermal underwear, it’s hard to find anything that looks bad enough to not be in style. But Dr. O’Reilly had managed it. His hair was too long and his pants were too short, but it was more than that. One of the garage bands has a drummer who wears pedal pushers and braids onstage, and he looks like the ultimate in trendiness. And it wasn’t his glasses. Look at Elton John. Look at Buddy Holly. It was something else, something that had been nagging at me all evening.
Dr. O’Reilly,” I said, wondering if he was old enough to have bought the tie new. ” Elaine said, craning her neck. “Bad tie,” Gina said. “And those glasses,” Sarah said. ” “Gray,” I said, but Elaine and Sarah had gone back to discussing stair-walking. “The best stairs are up on campus,” Elaine said. “The engineering building. Sixty-eight steps, but it’s gotten pretty crowded. ” “Ted lives on Iris,” Sarah said. ” “All right, fellow workers,” Management said. “Do you have your five objectives? ” Elaine looked stricken.
Bellwether by Connie Willis