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Carbon Amnesia – A Short Story

Nov 2, 2020

While going through some papers, I found a story I wrote back in high school chemistry. It’s a bit nerdy, yes. It must have been for extra credit or maybe my teacher said, “Come up with something creative to show what you’ve learned.” I don’t remember. Usually when a teacher said, “Go be creative,” I wrote a story.

Note: I did some surface editing for clarification but left it pretty much how I found it.


Carbon Amnesia

Carbon washed the barely noticeable marble tables with her soggy, dingy rag as her boss called out more orders for her to fill. “Carbon, I need two hotdogs, one roast beef sandwich, and three gallons of mass, pronto.”

“Yes, sir,” Carbon called back. She had been working for Mr. Krypton for three years now and still hadn’t gotten the raise she had asked for many times. She claimed she just wanted to the money to feel special about herself.

“You don’t need a raise,” he would say. “You don’t even know who you are. With no family what could you do with extra cash? Too feel special? Whatever!” She endured the disappointment every time he said this by only saying “Yes, sir.” Then she would ignore him for a few days. This always got on his nerves so he would quickly apologize and give Carbon a discount on her next meal.

Carbon finished washing the marble table and hurried back to the kitchen to make two hotdogs, one roast beef and… What was it? Oh yes, three gallons of mass.

As she walked in the kitchen she noticed her friend Helium following her and giving her a questioning look. Helium was Carbon’s hero. She loved this girl and wanted so much to be like her. She did everything she could to follow Helium’s example. Helium is actually the reason Carbon started the silent treatment on Mr. Krypton.

“What?” Carbon asked in response to Helium’s expression.

“You don’t by chance belong to the 4-A family, do you?” Helium asked.

“The most diverse family in this state? I don’ t think so. Why would you ask?”

“Oh, just because Silicon came in here saying he was looking for a sister who had been lost for three years. And since you have no past of three years I thought … hmmm… could this person be Carbon? And then he started describing you: a girl with an atomic radii of 0.077nm and an ionic size of 1.015nm. After he described this picture to me I knew it must be you. You’re the only one who fits this description.”

“How do you know?” Carbon asked dumbly.

“Carbon, didn’t you go to school? Everyone has a different atomic radii and ionic size. It’s what makes us special. It’s like humans with fingerprints. We’re all different.”

“Oh,” Carbon said.

Then the moment of questioning Carbon’s true identity came. Silicon himself stepped through the kitchen doors. He took one look at Carbon, smiled, and yelled, “Carbon, is it really you?”

Carbon didn’t know what to say. Was this a joke? Had her family really been looking for her?

Silicon took a few steps toward Carbon and showed her a yellow-lined white piece of paper. “This has your birthdate on it. It’s the only one of its kind. Helium says you have been tested to know when your birthday is and it matches the one on this paper: every 6 days out of 112.”

Carbon looked at Silicon. “You really are my brother,” she cried. The next thing she knew, she was sitting at a table eating her favorite food of 12.011 grams of atomic mass and listening to Silicon tell stories he remembered and thought were special about Carbon. He told her about Period 2, the street she used to live on, and how she used to study her electron configuration as a favorite subject in school, which, as a side note, is [HE] 2s to the 6, 2p to the 2. Silicon also told her about her membership in the p-block club.

Carbon realized she didn’t need money to make her special. She was anyway.

Her memory did slowly start to come back and she soon remembered everything her brother told her that day in Mr. Krypton’s restaurant.


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