Botany Lab- Making Amends

Posted Feb. 21, 2020, 11:51 a.m. by Lieutenant Jasmine Wynter (Chief Medical Officer) (Kate O'Neill)

(snip)

“That is where I professionally and personally think you are wrong. People that isolate themselves tend to experience a greater sense of loneliness and low self-esteem. This can lead to individuals developing social anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns. Sentient beings are for the most part social creatures. These pairings depend a lot on culture, race, and such. That is why I am a firm believer in “bring a friend” to family parties. It helps take the pressure of you when you are with your parents if they have someone else to focus on. ” For the first time Jasmine felt incredibly sad for Faye. At some point all people had terrible things happen to them. They either rose above them or let the event define them forever. Jasmine hoped for Faye it would be the former.

It was in her file and she assumed that Jasmine at least knew about it on the surface. But the reality of it was usually different. “I already have mental health concerns,” Faye said quietly. “Which came first, that or the depression, is anyone’s guess, but I’ve been doing my best to manage it since I was diagnosed eight years ago.” Faye leaned in slightly, gazing intently at the CMO with her stormy grey-green eyes. “I can’t change how my brain perceives things and I will admit that it’s rarely fair to the other person, but all I can do is admit that things get a little messed up with how I interact with people. Some people can handle it, and some can’t. I think you are the one that can, but I’m just warning you in advance that I’m probably going to piss you off or make you want to run away screaming. All the medication in the galaxy can’t suddenly make me a good friend. But all I can do is try if you’re willing to put up with me.”

“So you are my hostile friend that I tell people to blow off and you roll your eyes or get pissed at me from time to time. The basis of a real friend is they ike you when its fun and love you when its hard. If you can’t find it in you to tell your best friend they fracked up and still call them the next day…or a week later depending on how bad the fracking was,” Jasmine let out a big laugh, “then they are just a fair weather friend. Take Celina. Lord there are some days I want to put her through the wall and when she start yammering about in Spanish when she is pissed off I remind her she had to share with the class because I need to know what insult to throw back at her. That is girl bonding. Men beat each other with sticks in the gym and call it fun. They are just less articulate than women so they need a way to ommunicate.”

Faye snorted. “I’m quite happy beating things to a pulp as well. It’s quite therapeutic, I assure you,” she said with a bit of a smirk. For her, that was enough of a response to Jasmine to show that she took in what the other woman had said and could go along with it.

“So wanna go get out of here and do something fun,” she asked

Jasmine Wynter CMO

Faye grinned slightly, ever curious. “What did you have in mind? Fun is relative and subjective, remember?”

~Faye Calloway, Data Specialist

“Well let’s figure out what we have in common. You list three things you like to do. I will do the same and we pick. Agreed,” Jasmine smiled.

“So mani-pedi’s, drinking on the beach, and the driving range,” Jasmine threw out her three and waited for Faye to add her top choices to the list,

Lt. Jasmine Wynter CMO

Calloway stared at Wynter and shook her head. “Woman, we are built so vastly differently,” she said with amusement and a bit of awe. They really couldn’t be more discordant people to be friends and she wondered in her head how much of an issue it would be over time. “I don’t really have hobbies, but I do the aforementioned beating things to a pulp thing for anger management and… well… there’s the garden you heard about. I like growing things. It’s calming and reminds me of the good parts of my childhood, as I said earlier.”

~Faye Calloway, Data Specialist

“Then lets go grow something,” Jasmine stood up from her desk. “We just need to make it something easy because I promise you I will lie to you. We will go plant something. I will take it home. You will ask how it is doing. I will say fine and then I will replicate one over its dead carcass so make it easy,” she said the last three words to Faye very slowly. It was more to make sure the woman understood how imperative this information was. “Ready,” she asked Faye.

Lt. Jasmine Wynter CMO

Calloway couldn’t help herself and chuckled, smiling genuinely as she rose to her feet. “Come on Black Thumb, let’s see if I can teach you a bit of botanical science. You’re a biologist. It can’t be that much of a stretch. But even if it is, I learned this stuff when I was really little, and it seemed to have stuck, so you might just be in luck.”

Faye led her down a deck to Deck Four, where both her new garden space as located as well as the Plant Sciences labs. “The garden space is a work in progress at the moment, so I’m starting some seeds and getting them to a good point so they can be transplanted.”

Inside the botany lab, Faye had quietly set up a multi-tiered shelf with grow lights on each level. Three of the six shelves had trays with transparent covers and were awaiting the first signs of sprouting. Calloway cast her gaze suspiciously at Jasmine. “Should I just assume that you’ve never planted seeds before?”

~Faye Calloway, Data Specialist

“Oh I have planted and got them this far,” Jasmine looked at the young seedlings in the tray inspecting them carefully. The stems looked strong with a pair of leaves on each one. “I just have issues the damping-off. One second they look fine but the next minute the little guys seem to go limp. Once they go limp I haven’t ever gotten them to stand up again,” she said touching one of the small leaves with the tip of her finger.

“Hmmm,” Calloway said thoguhtfully, running through the possibilities. “Could be a few different things,” she said, though her mind immediately latched onto the most likely possibility.

“I heard fungicide foxes this but it’s just always been easier to buy a grown plant. Maybe you can show me what I have been doing wrong,” Jasmine pulled in a pair of gloves from a nearby bench sliding them on her hands. A second later she broke out laughing.

“Are you psychic,” she asked Faye bringing up her hands and wiggling her fingers. “I am Black Thumbs,” she joked showing her hands now clad in the black material.

Jasmine. CMO

Faye snorted. “I am a woman of many secrets, but I think if I had psychic abilities I would have been able to avoid much of the drama of my life.” She cast a sideways glance at Jasmine. “But they do suit you.”

“More than you know. My family laughs about the irony of my ability to keep plants versus humans alive. They have always joked that if we were plants they probably would not trust my medical skills,” she shook her head with a smile.

She forwent the gloves in favour of getting into it with bare hands, preferring the ease of dealing with tiny seeds. “So,” Faye began, “seed growth depends entirely on what medium you grow it in, how much or how little water you give it and light. Damping off often happens because you’re giving them too much water. You need to keep the soil quite moist but only until the seeds are established. Once they pop up, then you can go easier on the water.”

Faye grabbed a large container that contained a special growing medium, along with a seedling tray and a flip top container. “Why don’t you grab that bowl on the side counter and I will grab our portable sprayer,” she said, moving about the one side of the botany lab with practiced ease even though it really wasn’t her domain.

With all the equipment ready, Faye opened up the lid of the growing medium. “So this is a seed starting medium I’ve put together. It’s lighter than normal soil because if it’s too heavy the seeds have a tougher time getting through it. We’re going to gently moisten it by adding water to a bunch in the bowl and then use that to pack the tray. So go ahead and fill the bowl about two-thirds full of medium,” she instructed as she unzipped her jacket and tossed it over a nearby stool.

~Faye Calloway, Data Specialist

Following Faye’s lead, Jasmine removed her coat and pulled off the gloves. Setting the on a shelf she noticed something. Picking up a small plant, Jasmine inspected it in the pot like it was something wondrous to behold. Turning it she gazed intently at the thin almost hair-like stem. The two tiny leaves seemed to be impossibly large to be supported by the stem yet the plant stood firm and tall. It reminded her for some reason of Faye and maybe for a second Jasmine knew the woman better than anyone on the crew ever could. Faye was like the plant. She was strong and full of potential. Her core could stand up against anything. Like the seed, it had fought hard to grow and survive in the world. The seed had no idea what environment it would be forced to survive in yet survive it did. The spot at which Jasmine plucked the burgeoning seedling was not from the choicest spot directly under the lights and sprays of mist the computer provided it on a schedule. Its spot was on the edge of the tray where it had to fight for every ounce of water and drop of light. Jasmine admittedly knew little about the mechanics of plant biology past her academy courses in biology and her fourth-grade science unit but the slight tilt to the stem showed the little plant’s desperate fight for survival physically changing its body. It’s will to survive did not produce the ram rod straight spine of the middle plants. This little guy’s slight curve was so much more telling. It would live. It would not only survive but thrive in any environment it was placed into.

The leaves were balanced on either side of the stem yet because of the slight curve the plant had to work twice as hard to remain erect and not topple over. From a medical standpoint this stem was a spine. A humanoid spine could only bend to the fifty-degree mark until catastrophic complications set in. At fifty-one degrees of curvature, the application of gravity became a constant force twisting and pulling a body to the ground. Without surgical intervention something as innocuous as scoliosis was deadly. The large degree of curvature became forced the body to move internal organs impacting breathing circulation, respiration, and digestion. Jasmine’s mind slipped to the memory of a young patient during her cadet cruise. The colony on the outskirts of Federation space was just a random stopover yet for Nyiah it saved her life. By the time the USS Murphy arrived, Nyiah was unable to eat and could no longer speak due to the internal organs. A simple surgery had saved Nyiah’s life because someone was in the right place at the right time. Maybe this was why Faye was here right now. Maybe it was some cosmic twist of fate that had brought the woman to the USS Manhattan.

Just like the plant and Niyah, Faye had ebbed and flowed between periods of calm and calamity. Maybe she was brought to the Manhattan to have a place where she could be given the chance to finally find a quiet, nurturing place for a second chance. Recently there were rumors about the officer as occurred on any ship. Jasmine had heard whispered murmurings about Faye Calloway but never cared one way or another. Perhaps it was time to care. Removing the centermost plant from the shelf she placed the one she was looking at in its spot where it would get the best of everything.

Grabbing the pot Faye indicated, Jasmine began to work the soil like instructed. The dirt was cool feeling almost therapeutic in her hands. The moist crumbs slipped over her skin made Jasmine feel like she was outdoors once again and not in the hermetically sealed tin can they called home. It relaxed her enough to make Jasmine decide to take a leap of faith. Making a connection with people was tricky. Asking too many personal questions often made people feel like there was a motive. Asking too little created a sense of personal disinterest. At this moment Jasmine felt a strong desire to actually know the woman past small chit chat about how her day was going or what she was planning for the weekend.

“Faye,” Jasmine said almost hesitantly as she continued to fill the container like the woman asked, “you and I are from two different worlds. I know you tend to be on the private side but I would really like to get to know you past stick out your tongue or do you have a fever.” Jasmine did not make eye contact as she spoke but focused her attention on the pot. If it was hard for Jasmine to talk right now, she didn’t want Faye to feel like she was being interrogated.

Jasmine Wynter CMO


Notes on USS Manhattan

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