*BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!*
The digital alarm clock on Franny's cheap nightstand wailed in earnest.
A slender, pale hand emerged from the blankets and smacked it until it silenced. Sighing contently, the hand buried back into the covers.
The sleeping form groaned slightly.
"Mmmuuuh..." muttered the bed covers.
The three frogs encased in an aquarium underneath Franny's bunk were not about to stop. They knew it was morning, and loved to strut their stuff if they knew their teacher might be listening. Even if their "stuff" wasn't all that great. Yet.
"Frrraaannyyy, make your toads shut up!" came a voice from the opposite side of the room. Grace, Franny's room mate, sat up in her own bed.
"CROOOAK!" This time, the frogs all croaked, roughly in unison.
"Franny!" Grace hollered, pulling her purple comforter up over her head of curly, dark blond hair.
"Mmmmeeeh..." mumbled the other bed.
Grace picked up a round, plum colored pillow and hurled it to the other side of the room.
"OW!" the bed cried.
"Crooooak..." another rusty attempt from the frogs.
Franny sighed. Every time the frogs tried and failed, it made her heart sink. Things seemed to be at a standstill. And even in college, majoring in genetics, very few were supportive of her dream.
But her frogs would sing. She was sure of it.
At that moment, the alarm on Grace's iPod went off. "Fran, it's 6:45, you're going to be late for class." She knew Franny didn't want to go to her first class today. It was one of Franny's favorites, but that wasn't much a reason for not wanting to go. She loved this class, because her professor there was more supportive of her singing (or lack thereof) frogs than the others. Today however, that professor wouldn't be there. To fill in, they would be having a special lecture from a guest professor. Or maybe it was a scientist...? Franny didn't remember. Grace was sure she didn't really care either. Franny kept saying that maaayyybe she would just not go. But Grace reminded her that skipping a lecture would wreak havoc on her biology grade.
Franny sat bolt upright in bed. Her raven black hair loose down to the small of her back, and sleep lingering in her brown, now wide eyes.
"CROOOAK!" There it was again!
"GRACE!" Franny cried. Grace stopped rubbing her glasses on her shirt and blinked at her room mate.
"...what? I know, they're still-"
Franny threw up her hand. "NO! They just croaked a perfect C! Together!" Franny flailed around in the covers, and then threw them to the floor. She jumped up, and nearly fell off of her high bunk. She gracefully jumped down to the floor, and ducked under her bed to look at her frogs.
"Hi Frankie! Great job!" she said, as Grace rolled her eyes. Franny lifted the lid off the tank, and picked up Frankie. He croaked at her, and hopped up onto her shoulder. Franny giggled, and stroked her green friend on the head.
Grace picked up her iPod again, "Fran, it's almost 7! Get a move on!" Franny sighed, but was still grinning. I suppose I can bear not having my regular professor around... for just a day. She told herself, patting Frankie on his small green head one last time. She placed him back in the glass tank and fitted the lid on tightly. She had once forgotten to fasten the lid well, and Grace had found Frankie in her bed one night. Probably why Grace was no big fan of frogs and toads. Then she rushed into the small, shared bathroom and got ready for her first class, while Grace snuggled back into bed to wait for her own, late morning class.
Franny, wearing a full, swirly, 1950s style aqua skirt, black flats, and a princess seam, white button up shirt, walked across campus as fast as her long, lean legs would carry her. She glanced at her old fashioned wrist watch, and broke into a run, plaid printed tote, heavy with books, bouncing on her shoulder. She glanced at her watch again, and groaned out loud as she realized she was definitely going to be late. She was running as fast as she could, and still the campus was emptying out. By the time she got to the classroom door, everyone was already in their respective classes. Franny took a deep breath, and burst through the door into the large lecture room.
Franny had been planning on slinking up into the top, far regions of the almost empty seating area, and only half listening as she scribbled in her own notes and theories on genetics. But when she got into the classroom and layed eyes on their fill-in professor, her jaw dropped and she just stood there.
Round glasses sliding down the bridge of his nose, unruly blond hair as wild as ever, and blue eyes dancing as he stared at Franny in shock equal to her own, Cornelius Robinson stood in front of the large chalkboard, already covered in the inventor's squirrly, insane looking scrawl.
Franny stood glued to the floor, slack jawed. Her book bag slid off of her shoulder, and onto the floor with a thud, the fasten breaking and the contents spilling out. Franny stood for a split second, still staring. She saw Cornelius flinch, starting to move to help her, but then he decided against it. He had turned bright red, and with his far from tanned skin and light hair, the deep blush was not to be hidden, and the embarrassment was unmistakable. Dropping to her hands and knees, Franny brushed her side swept bangs from her face and gathered up her large biology books, pens, and loose papers covered in swirly, feminine handwriting.
Cornelius cleared his throat, and continued what he was saying about the genome of a mother and a daughter. If Franny had been able to hear his voice before she entered the room, she would have heard the pleasant, confident, and matured voice that Cornelius had developed from interaction with so many people older than him throughout his entire teenage years and young adulthood. The difference in that voice, and the voice that he managed now, was like night and day.
Now, as he attempted to explain an abstract and unsure concept of advanced genetics, his mouth had gone dry, and on certain words his normally mature voice made a strange squeaking sound. Many more "um"s were put in where he normally would have charged forward confidently.
Franny gathered her now unclosable shoulder bag into her arms and stood up. She looked once more at Cornelius, which caused him to stop talking all together again. Franny ducked her head down, causing her bangs to fall in front of her large brown eyes again. She stumbled to the seats, and sat in the first empty one she found, which was on the end, about three rows up. Practically all eyes were either on the blundering girl, or the now "deer-in-headlights" faced inventor.
Sitting down with a fairly loud *thump*, Franny tucked her hair behind her right ear timidly and looked up at Cornelius. He was trying not to stare at her, and failing most terribly. While trying to point to a specific diagram on the board, and explain it, he drew everyone's attention to the completely wrong area of his notes, and everyone became confused. Students began looking right and left, sharing notes, and then glaring at the famous young scientist , muttering things under their breath. Franny cringed, and cleared her throat while looking at the correct diagram on the board, and copying it into a piece of graph paper. The girl behind her bent over her shoulder and asked if she knew the "substitute professor".
Now it was her turn to flush. Sliding down in her seat, Franny mumbled, "Uh, yeah. We go... way back." The girl huffed and sat back in her seat loudly. Rubbing her hand on her suspiciously rosy cheek, she put all her attention on the lecture that her old friend was giving. Though, it was becoming extremely hard to understand when Cornelius was having to correct every other word he said. At one point, he even drew an entire diagram incorrectly. Franny cringed through the entire process. She wanted to waltz up to the blackboard, snatch the chalk from the lanky blonde's hand and give the lecture herself. She already knew this stuff anyway. She could have not come to this class and no one would've been the wiser. But for some reason she was glad she had come. As awkward and annoying as this was turning out to be, Franny was glad to see her childhood friend again. After he had gone into high school when she was still not even done with the 6th grade, they weren't able to spend as much time with each other. And since high school didn't take Cornelius long to complete, he was finished and off to college by the time Franny was just becoming a freshman. Cornelius went to many different colleges, all across the country, and the two had lost contact. Franny had continued on with life, trying to date like normal high school girls, and then going on to college (albeit, early, as she was put in the gifted program soon after she entered high school) but she missed her friend, and she knew it. If only she had known that Cornelius had missed her too, even more than she did him.
Irritated mumbles rippled through the students as Cornelius wrote a DNA sequence completely out of order, and then dropped the chalk stub. Franny gritted her teeth and stared at the pattern. That was a mistake the dumb kid in high school would've made, not the best young scientist in the world! She looked down to see her fist clenched around her pencil. She rolled her eyes and dropped her pencil on her desk. Looking up again, she found Cornelius muttering to himself, and glancing nervously at her as he fumbled to pick up the white chalk.. He had seen her irritated response to his excessive mistakes, and it hit home with Cornelius. Science was his thing even more than it was Franny's. He wasn't supposed to mess up; he couldn't mess up!
"Heh, my mistake." he finally said, dipping his head apologetically, looking sheepishly at Franny. An unconscious grin flickered on her face. Cornelius raised his eyebrows hopefully, and turned to the board again. Lifting his long arm up high, he circled something that Franny hadn't noticed before. It was a blurb on mutations in genetics. She perked up. Shifting in her seat, she leaned forward noticeably. This was her specialty! Her reason for studying genetics, her dream, her passion. Her eyes scanned the section of the board in question. There was a basic summery of how genetic mutations happen, and then a scribbled diagram with an example. When she got to the example, Franny's brow furrowed. She set her chin in her hand, and rested her elbow on the desk. Something wasn't right in that diagram. She began to tune out Cornelius's voice and words, and study the diagram closely. There were the duplications of large sections of a DNA sequence, genetic recombination, and the manual manipulation of DNA sequences and chromosomes to create a desired mutation in a creature. As she continued to scan the diagrams, an almost audible gasp escaped her lips. The example that Cornelius had used to describe the manual manipulation of a creatures genetics was titled, "The Addition of Musical Ability in Amphibians Through Genetic Mutation"
Both of Franny's hands slipped over her mouth, and behind her small, graceful hands a huge grin was spreading across her face. Cornelius must've realized what she had finally seen, because he took a deep breath, and smiled at her. The rest of his explanation of genetic mutation was executed with a little more confidence, and much less stuttering than the previous portions of the lecture.
Franny was excitedly scanning the DNA sequence for the mutation of musical abilities, when she found another blip. She frowned. Cornelius had to have looked at the sequence enough to have caught the mistake by now. He was still talking in depth about that matter of genetics, so it didn't make sense that he would have left the mistake. Franny laid her hands on the desk, and leaned forward, staring intently at the board. Maybe he would notice what she was looking at and fix it. He did notice what she was looking at. But oddly enough, he looked at it, and then looked back at Franny with a strange expression.
Franny's eyebrows shot up. He doesn't know what's wrong with it! she thought to herself. Cornelius was attempting to wrap the concept up, as the class session was about to end.
Franny shifted in her seat again. He couldn't just leave it! Surely he would correct himself... Cornelius was already gathering his papers.
Franny wondered what in heaven's name she was doing, when her hand shot up in the air.
What am I doing, what am I doing, WHAT AM I DOING?! she thought frantically.
Everyone was staring at her, as they gathered their own belongings. Franny's brain was yelling at her to sit down, and forget it! But her legs kept on carrying her to the front of the room.
"Cor- Dr. Robinson?" Franny heard herself say
Stop, stop, stop...
Cornelius turned around in surprise, taking his glasses off nervously and rubbing them on his shirt when he saw who it was.
Then Franny's voice stopped working. She opened and closed her mouth. Blinking hard, she thought how stupid she looked.
Obviously Cornelius was having the same dilemma, because his own mouth opened and closed, and he managed to stutter an "Uuhm." The two stole glances at the students, most of which had lost interest and were already standing up to leave. Franny clenched her sweaty fists, and looked at the blackboard.
Her brain's oh-so eloquent plan to proudly explain his mistake disappeared instantly. All the information on genetic mutation seemed to have locked itself inside a drawer in the depths of her mind.
"You're wrong." she stated simply. Cornelius' arms went limp, and fell to his sides. His mouth clamped shut, and his face went completely white.
"W-w-what do you mean Fra- Miss Framaguci?"
Franny now realized how embarrassing this must be for him. Was that... satisfaction she felt? Taking a few steps towards the chalky blackboard, Franny got up on her tiptoes and pointed to the incorrect sequence.
"There." she said shortly. Why couldn't she think of what to say?
Cornelius shifted his glasses on his face, and tilted his head back slightly to see. Franny looked up at his face (When did Cornelius get so tall... she wondered).His expression went from afraid, to confused, to sheepish, and then back to afraid.
Looking around, he noticed that all but the furthest away students had already left. Lowering his voice, he bent down a little and asked, "Franny, what are you talking about...?"
Franny's brow furrowed, and she reached up higher on the board, wiping some of the lower scribbles off onto her arm and sleeve.
"The-the sequence." she insisted, still struggling for her meaning. Cornelius squinted at the DNA sequence in question and stroked his chin. His mouth moved as he swirled his finger in the air, working through the order over and over.
Franny just stood, staring at the glaring mistake. She looked over at her friend, who was still engrossed in his thoughts. One of his arms was crossed over his body, and in that hand he still held the chalk stub. Franny looked from the chalk, to the board, to the inventor's face.
After a few more seconds, Franny gritted her teeth, leaned over and grabbed the chalk from Cornelius' hand. He didn't even notice. Franny grinned, rolling her eyes as she remembered back to the days of their childhood. Cornelius so easily got lost in his science. His thoughts were so prominent to him, that once he was in them, it took a lot to snap him out of the trance like thoughtful state. His mother had even told Franny that once when he was about 14, it had been impossible to get him to hear a word they said for an entire day.
Reaching up again, Franny stuck out two fingers and erased a couple of words from the sequence. Cornelius slowly stopped waving his fingers in the air and just watched her. She studied it for a minute more, and then wrote a few words into the empty spaces.
Cornelius' mouth fell open, and his glasses slid down his nose. Brushing her fingers off, Franny stuck the chalk back into the young man's open hand. Cornelius' face suddenly broke into a wide, sheepish grin. His eyes lit up as if he were remembering a fond memory.
"Well, you are always right." chuckled Cornelius. Franny smiled and laughed, not knowing the full meaning of the comment. Taking a step toward him, and standing up on tiptoes she kissed his cheek lightly.
Cornelius Robinson flushed red, and Franny walked away with a satisfied smile gracing her lips.