Tenderness

In the story that earned first prize at the 2007 Subtle Science short story competition, part of the Oxford Literary Festival, a non-scientist falls in love with a state-of-the-art laboratory

Anne Youngson
Jul 12, 2007
I've been given a job helping the decorators re-paint the inside of a building called The University of Oxford Plant Sciences Department. The first time I walk into it, I am overcome. It is so beautiful I want to touch every part of it. I want to stay here all night. There are steps in front of it, up to a door, and then it is hard for me to carry on describing it because it feels like a mother to me when I am inside it, and who can describe what that is like?
The steps make me think of a stained glass window I saw in a church, showing The Stairway to Heaven. The people at the bottom, just starting up the stairs, looked a bit hopeful, a bit fearful; the ones spread out along the length of it looked happy, and the nearer they were to the...

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