In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘pagsamo’ or ‘pleading’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.


“Dr Strass?” Luke poked his head around the heavy door, he’d knocked but couldn’t tell if the scientist answered.

There was a fairly tall, slightly pot-bellied man stood at a whiteboard near the back of the room. He was a little older than the photograph Luke found online and had the beginning of the kind of beard Luke thought he might grow once he moved from home. He turned towards Luke’s voice, a slight frown gathered in the centre of his forehead.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

Luke strode forward, hand outstretched.

“Luke King, sir. My professor, Mr Ramirez, said I should come by,” he said. Dr Strass took the offered hand but his grip was loose and the frown never went away.

“Did he now?” Strass drawled, his tone the same as Luke’s momma’s when Aunty Maya told one of her tall tales at Sunday supper.

“Ah, well yes sir. He told me you were working on some papers about bacterial growth conditions and I wondered if you needed any help at all?” Luke winced but couldn’t stop the tumble of words.

“Son, do I strike you as someone who might require the ‘help’ of a high school kid to perform my work?” Strass’ frown had flattened and was replaced by a scornful glare that had Luke shuffling in place.

“Not help, not like that. I said that all wrong!” Luke scrambled. “I meant more like, a goffer or admin help or anything really. I just wanna get into a real lab. Start getting experience in bacterial biology. Please, it’s a long time ‘til college still and some lab exposure would just, well, it would be great. So, great.”

Luke wished desperately he could just stop talking but the words kept coming while Strass retreated to his desk. The scientist sat, hands folded together and Luke finally ran out of steam, his chest heaving as he tried desperately to think of a way to present his case without sounding any more like a dumb kid.

“Ramirez you say?” Strass asked. Luke nodded, too concerned he’d begin to babble again to open his mouth. Strass sucked at his teeth and stared over at the window. “I’ll give him a call, but no promises.”

Heart swelling in his chest, Luke managed to stutter his thanks and walk from the room before he felt his face split with a grin. He couldn’t wait to tell Momma.


9 thoughts on “Pagsamo

  1. Oh my. This reminds me so much of college. The fear, tangled words, and sweaty palms… I’ve felt it whenever I assist one of my professors. 🙈 Glad Dr. Strass gave him a chance. 😊


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