David stared at his plate, took a long breath, and slowly shook his head.
Cassandra flicked a mushroom with her chopsticks.
After several moments she stopped flicking and looked up. “You know what first attracted me to you?”
“How good my butt looked in scrubs?”
“Well, yeah, there was that,” she said with a hint of a smile, “but mainly it was your passion. I saw it early on, from your first days as an intern. It didn’t matter if you were assisting on a brain tumor or amputating a gangrenous toe, you loved being in the operating room. You loved cutting things out and sewing things back together, creating order out of disorder—your words. Even draining an abscess was a big deal.”
“ ‘A surgeon is at his finest when he’s draining pus’—William Stewart Halsted, the father of American surgery.”
“Yes. You used to tell me that. At first I thought it was weird, but when I saw how you believed in yourself and what you were doing, I understood. So find that passion and apply it to your research. I know working with rats isn’t the same as working with humans, but you’re still making a contribution.”
“I’m not making a contribution,” David said. “I make no decisions. I have no input. I remove the heart from one rat and sew it into another. There’s no glory in that.”
“There’s no glory in the life we’re living, either.
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