On the first day of Holtzmann, a genius gave to me
“Earrings?” Patty asked, looking down at her desk. When she’d left Friday night, the desk had held random pens, her notes from the Strawberry Gardens case, and a couple of books. Now it had all of those things and a pair of earrings, goldish ones that matched her “Patty” necklace exactly.
She picked one up. The gold screw behind the gold U looked the same as - “Holtzmann!” she called, walking over to the five tables and twelve funny-looking machines that defined Holtzmann’s space. “Why’re you leaving your jewelry on my desk? We have a wall of storage lockers.”
Holtzmann looked up, her magnifier goggle things distorting her eye until she pulled them off. “Nope.”
Holtzmann struck a fashion model pose. “Darling,” she said in a low throaty voice, “I don’t clash, I match.”
Patty looked at her. “Says the person who hasn’t worn matching socks since 1996.”
Was that a smirk? That was for sure a smirk. “Regardless, they’re yours,” Holtzmann said, and refused to speak again for the rest of the day. About anything.
On the third day of Holtzmann, a genius gave to me
Wednesday morning there were six pairs of - no, twelve individual socks on Patty’s desk: argyle, blue paisley, striped, leopard-print, and more. One lone sock was a solid bright red.
“Be like that,” Patty said to Holtzmann’s back, and yanked her shoes off to change on the spot.
On the fifth day of Holtzmann, a genius gave to me
Friday, 12:30: Patty handed Holtzmann her sandwich and Holtzmann handed something back: a little black box with a green light on it.
Patty looked over at Erin and Abby; they looked equally mystified.
“It’s for your phone, obviously,” Holtzman said. “Lets you call and text from airplane mode.”
“Ooh, how?” Abby asked.
“Wait, why?” Erin asked.
“Dude,” Patty said. “It was a two-hour flight to Chicago and I was gone for a week. A. Week.”
“The portal can be breached in less time than that,” Holtzmann mimed the portal opening - or did some sort of disco dance, always hard to tell with Holtzmann.
“What would you do, though, transporter me back?”
Holtzmann’s eyes lit up.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Patty said in almost a shriek. “I am not letting you reassemble my atoms, Jillian, stop thinking right now!”
On the eighth day of Holtzmann, a genius gave to me
“A freaking proton sword!” Patty screamed over the shirring noise. “I’m gonna dress up like a Jedi and walk around on Halloween with this, don’t think I won’t!” She waved it around in increasing arcs.
“I would just not hit that support pole,” Holtzmann said casually as the sword came a few inches from it, “because the building would collapse and the building collapsing would probably make the power pack explode and the power pack exploding would probably - “
“Gotcha,” Patty said hastily and moved over a step.
“Where’s our new toys?” Erin asked. “Ow, Abby, move over, you’re stepping on my foot.”
On the ninth day of Holtzmann, a genius gave to me
Patty carefully set her newest gift on the desk next to day two’s rectangular spinny thing (“Tarot spread generator”) and day seven’s lemon-smelling round spinny thing (“You hate eating oranges. Scurvy preventing mist producer!”). “Um…”
Holtzmann sprinted past her. Abby, already at the proton packs, yelled, “Let’s go, let’s go, people, level fives don’t show up every day!”
“Holtzy, wait!” Patty yelled.
Holtzmann, surprisingly, stopped and turned on her heel. Erin nearly bounced off her.
“What?” Holtzmann asked.
“What’s the lava lamp thing?” Patty asked, gesturing back at her desk.
“It’s a lava lamp,” Holtzmann said.
“Oh,” Patty said. “I like lava lamps.”
Holtzmann nodded. “You told me. Also,” she said, looking at her feet,” um, nice earrings.”
Abby whistled. “Later, ladies! LEVEL FIVE.”
Patty jumped for her proton pack.
On the tenth day of Holtzmann, a genius gave to me
“So what is it?” Erin and Abby asked almost in unison, crowding up on Patty’s desk.
Patty stared at the metallic rose, lit pink and red from within and smelling deliciously rose-like.
“Back off,” she said absently.
On the eleventh day of Holtzmann, a genius gave to me
“What the hell,” Patty said, lifting a narrow cylinder that honestly looked like, well -
The top half started spinning, and a little lighted attachment popped out.
Suddenly, it was grabbed out of her hand.
“I didn’t - this is for later - I mean, it’s not, I don’t mean - here,” Holtzmann said, dropped a pair of earrings in her hand, and beelined back to her lab.
The earrings were mismatched: one was the Ghostbusters logo, and the other was a perfect miniature replica of the proton sword.
When Patty looked up, Holtzmann was nowhere in sight, but Erin and Abby were creeping closer and closer into her personal space. She sighed.
“No, really, I get it,” she said.
“Yeah, we’ve known since socks,” Erin said.
Abby shook her head. “We haven’t known since socks.”
“We haven’t known since socks.”
The intercom crackled. “I’ve known since the lava lamp,” Kevin said.
“You did not!” Patty shouted in the direction of the stairs. She turned to Abby and Erin. “Back down, my friends, it’s fine.” She took off her screw U earrings and put the new ones in. “Patty’s got this.”
On the twelfth day of Holtzmann, a genius gave -
Patty walked straight past the spinny lighted interesting-smelling thing on her desk. “Holtzmann!”
Holtzmann popped up from under the bench. “Jillian Holtzmann, PhD PhD, reporting for duty! What do you need?”
Patty leaned over the bench, took Holtzmann’s face in her hands, and kissed her soundly.
Holtzmann pulled back after a minute. She looked Patty squarely in the eye; Patty stared back solemnly. Then laughed out loud as Holtzmann broke into a suggestive - more like filthy - dance.
With Abby and Erin cheering behind her, Patty rested her chin on her fist and enjoyed the view.