Month: June 2013


Disclaimer: This is a story I wrote very early in my “let’s do this writing thing” plans. I don’t think that it’s my best work, but that’s okay. Some day I may go back and edit it to be a little more coherent, less cliche, and a handful of other things. But sometimes you just need to finish something, whether it turns out really good or really terrible. It’s better to complete it and see where it went and own the fact that sometimes things aren’t at your best. I’m okay with that, because I learn new things every time. Sometimes it’s nice to read back and cringe at things that I find just terrible now, because I get to compare it with other things that seemed to turn out so much better. With that said…


Henry had always assumed that science wasn’t sexy.  Indeed, it had taken a very special woman to fall for Henry as he was, this thin, disheveled and absent-minded man. Most of the time it seemed that love was not even on his mind. Most nights he brought his work home with him, sometimes staring at charts and screens and samples well into the morning. But there was always that spark that brought her back. It was the way that his eyes brightened when he came back from a deep thought and seemed to just remember that she was there with him, or the way that her name came off his lips more beautifully than anyone else’s. There were only two things that had ever seemed to hold Henry’s interest longer than a few minutes. His work was one, the other Michelle. And only she understood how rare it could be to occupy the mind of this strange man in the midst of the torrent of thoughts that swirled there.

Tonight he was especially engrossed in the problems he brought back from the lab, but it was different somehow. Of course, disease prevention and treatment was a demanding field. If success gives life to those who might otherwise die, it must follow that delay only steals it back from those who might have lived. Somewhere each night, Henry had to draw the line and close his eyes, of course, but there were always a thousand problems in front of him and a few extra each day can turn into lives saved each year. Michelle had gotten used to falling asleep next to him on the sofa, with Henry’s nails lightly running through her hair as he read over some recent study, then gone again as he scribbled some notes and flicked through some pages. But tonight was different. He wasn’t working through some rigorous formula or puzzling out the cause of some failure from the day. Perhaps it was a remnant of a spat they shared the previous night. Love him though she did, Henry’s distance could be trying at times. It might be as dramatic as a forgotten anniversary or as simple as the way he could walk through the door and sit down at his desk to finish some notes before finding a moment to kiss her hello, but occasionally it boiled over and they fought. It was always plain in his eyes when he knew that he had crossed a line, but the cold war leading up to that moment was never pleasant.

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It’s true. I am guilty. Even if my lawyer hadn’t entered a guilty plea for me a few days ago, I’m certain you would be just as convinced of that as you are now. He tells me that what I’m doing now is called “allocution.” Well, I suppose technically that is what I’ll be doing tomorrow, when I read these words in front of the judge. What I’m doing right now is sitting in a cold cell, preparing an allocution statement.

I’m supposed to explain my crimes to you, helping to solidify the fact that I am guilty. Somehow, with my name plastered across every piece of incriminating code, I doubt that this will be a challenge. This is the part my lawyer cares about, the part that will close up the case neatly for all of us, but he let slip that I have another opportunity here. I can tell you my story. I can hope to show you that with your leniency, you will keep from depriving your community of a good man. I can explain to you that, yes, I am guilty, but I am not a criminal. I am only a good man caught up in a bad situation, a good father that is beneficial to the community.

I’ve tried to remember the first night many times lately. At the time it seemed completely unimportant. I write a lot of code during the days, and I have no idea what made me think that writing more at night would be a good idea. Normally I can’t even stand the sight of my computer outside of work. All I can say is that when I get excited about an idea I have to get it out and into the world as soon as I possibly can.

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