The Rosie Project Page 26

I was not sure how well I could imitate a regular human being, but I agreed to the walk. It was obvious that Rosie was confused by emotions, and I respected her attempt to overcome them. As it turned out, she hardly spoke at all. This made the walk quite pleasant - it was virtually the same as walking alone.

As we approached the car on our return, Rosie asked, \What music do you like?\

\Why?\

\You didn\ like what I was playing on the drive down, did you?\

\Correct.\

\So, your turn going back. But I don\ have any Bach.\

\I don\ really listen to music,\ I said. \The Bach was an experiment that didn\ work.\

\You can\ go through life not listening to music.\

\I just don\ pay it any attention. I prefer to listen to information.\

There was a long silence. We had reached the car.

\Did your parents listen to music? Brothers and sisters?\

\My parents listened to rock music. Primarily my father. From the era in which he was young.\

We got in the car and Rosie lowered the roof again. She played with her iPhone, which she was using as the music source.

\Blast from the past,\ she said, and activated the music.

I was just settling into the dentist\s chair again when I realised the accuracy of Rosie\s words. I knew this music. It had been in the background when I was growing up. I was suddenly taken back to my room, door closed, writing in BASIC on my early-generation computer, the song in the background.

\I know this song!\

Rosie laughed. \If you didn\ , that\d be the final proof that you\ e from Mars.\

Hurtling back to town, in a red Porsche driven by a beautiful woman, with the song playing, I had the sense of standing on the brink of another world. I recognised the feeling, which, if anything, became stronger as the rain started falling and the convertible roof malfunctioned so we were unable to raise it. It was the same feeling that I had experienced looking over the city after the Balcony Meal, and again after Rosie had written down her phone number. Another world, another life, proximate but inaccessible.

The elusive ... Sat-is-fac-tion.

It was dark when we arrived back at the university. We were both wet. With the aid of the instruction manual, I was able to close the car roof manually.

In the lab, I opened two beers (no cough-signal required) and Rosie tapped her bottle against mine.

\Cheers,\ she said. \Well done.\

\You promise to send a cheque to the café?\

\Whatever. Promise.\ Good.

\You were brilliant,\ I said. I had been meaning to convey this for some time. Rosie\s performance as an aspiring medical student had been very impressive. \But why did you claim such a high score on the medical admission test?\

\Why do you think?\

I explained that if I could have deduced the answer, I would not have asked.

\Because I didn\ want to look stupid.\

\To your potential father?\

\Yeah. To him. To anybody. I\m getting a bit sick of certain people thinking I\m stupid.\

\I consider you remarkably intelligent -\

\Don\ say it.\

\Say what?\

\For a barmaid. You were going to say that, weren\ you?\

Rosie had predicted correctly.

\My mother was a doctor. So is my father, if you\ e talking about genes. And you don\ have to be a professor to be smart. I saw your face when I said I got seventy-four on the GAMSAT. You were thinking, ’’He won\ believe this woman is that smart.’’ But he did. So, put your prejudices away.\

It was a reasonable criticism. I had little contact with people outside academia, and had formed my assumptions about the rest of the world primarily from watching films and television as a child. I recognised that the characters in Lost in Space and Star Trek were probably not representative of humans in general. Certainly, Rosie did not conform to my barmaid stereotype. It was quite likely that many of my other assumptions about people were wrong. This was no surprise.

The DNA analyser was ready.

\Do you have a preference?\ I asked.

\Whichever. I don\ want to make any decisions.\

I realised that she was referring to the sequence of testing rather than the choice of father. I clarified the question.

\I don\ know,\ she said. \I\ve been thinking about it all afternoon. Alan\s dead, which would suck. And Natalie would be my sister, which I\ve got to tell you is pretty weird. But it\s a sort of closure if that makes sense. I like Peter, but I don\ really know anything about him. He\s probably got a family.\

It struck me once again that this Father Project had not been well thought through. Rosie had spent the afternoon trying to subdue unwanted emotions, yet the motivation for the project seemed to be entirely emotional.

I tested Peter Enticott first, as the hair from Natalie\s brush required more time for pre-processing. No match.

I had found several roots in the wad of hair, so there was no need to have stolen the toothbrush. As I processed them, I reflected that Rosie\s first two candidates, including the one she had felt was a high probability, Eamonn Hughes, had not matched. It was my prediction that Alan\s daughter would not match either.


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