Thomas Whelan-young, Grade 12, Trinity Catholic College
This is the last time. And last time was the last time. As was the time before that. The latex slides over my fingers, pricking at my sweating skin and tucking into the creases of my hands. I look down upon the table, the various powders laid out, clinically labelled, enough to make a curator orgasm, as the saying goes. I exhale deeply, hair entwining over my eyes- I dare not wipe it away though, lest the grease taint my work. I walk tentatively toward the table, and bury my hands into the largest bowl. Spinning it, the miniscule white crystals leap out, cascading through the air, light bouncing from the lamp across the room, pinpricks of colour piercing the darkness enveloping me.
I shudder, letting the white crystals fall back into place, and pick up other bowls, pouring them into what I favourably call the ‘Master Bowl’ it’s the biggest, and its where all the littler ones go. I’ve always felt a little like the Master Bowl. He’s (he’s always been a boy- his gender is a moot point) awkwardly large- the odd one out, but the most reliable, and the most appealing. Somewhat narcissistic though. When my work is done, I spend most nights sitting next to the television, no channels on, just the test patterns, the thick lines sitting there, a wheedling buzz, humming in the air. I sit against the wall with master bowl in my hands, my forehead against the cool concrete. While this may come across as a somewhat bizarre thing to do, it is calming beyond measure. In my profession, being calm is of the essence.
But I haven’t quite elaborated on what I do yet, have I? I love my job, I really do. It’s a sentimental thing really, and despite declaring every attempt will be my last, I know it never to be so. I love it too much, really. It’s a profession that isn’t so popular these days. Not necessarily frowned upon, but relegated to the outskirts of the city of vocations. Always on the fringes. On the occasion where I purchase a newspaper the classifieds are lacking in my job of choice.
But enough procrastinating. I’ve been in the closet for far too long. I am an alchemist.
Yes, laudable really, I’ll give you that. But it is my job, and so dear to my heart. I toil over powders and metals and liquids, sometimes I even find the funds to collect various gases- swirling in glass bottles, an obligatory drop of dye causing a kaleidoscope of whirling mists to press against the glass, a miniature cyclone of such beauty that it is my seventh most favourite alchemical occurrence. My mother reminds me that I should find a real job, there isn’t much room these days for alchemists. I know she secretly years for it to be a phase, but it isn’t. It is a passion, one which I will pursue until the end of my primary school days. And whilst chemicals may come and go, the Master Bowl will always be at my side, not merely some receptacle of lab equipment, but a companion through my work.