In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘balintataw’ or ‘pupil of the eye’. 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.


Brown and black blurred together through the lens of Luke’s microscope as he peered closely at the tiny bacterium on the slide below; Deinococcus radiodurans, or Conan as Dr Strass called it. The research paper said it was pretty big, as far as bacteria went, and radiation proof. Luke hadn’t known anything alive could be radiation proof until Dr Strass sent him some pre-lab reading and as Luke noted the growth rate of this particular sample, he couldn’t help a thrill of excitement. This was real science, the kind that helped build the blocks necessary to one day change the world.

“How’s it going there Lukey-boy?” Dr Strass strolled into the lab, his face was flushed and covered in a sheen of fine sweat that indicated he’d been wearing radiation overalls recently.

Luke grinned, overalls meant more samples and samples meant more work. Momma always said idleness should never be given a seat at the table least it overstay its welcome and Luke had learned to enjoy keeping busy.

“Real good, no sign of decay and moderate growth. Though I’m thinking it’ll be lower percentile once Jenny works it up,” he replied and tapped the side of the microscope.

Dr Strass’ mouth quirked in a half smile and he pulled Luke’s notes across the workbench. His eyes skimmed the list of sample references and numbers and he glanced back at Luke.

“I’d say it’s a damn shame I only got your help for the summer but we both know you’ll be creeping back here during school,” the professor said. He pulled up one of the worn lab stools and sat down with a groan. “All that bending to run the machinery ain’t doing my back any good at all, I swear!”

Head ducked, Luke pressed his eye back to the microscope. It sounded like Mr Ramirez had been back in touch like he said he might; work in Dr Strass’ lab could be worth a whole bunch of credit for Luke. Enough that Mr Ramirez wasn’t opposed to Luke using some class time to go to the lab instead, if Dr Strass agreed.

“Cat got your tongue?” Dr Strass asked and poked a finger into Luke’s ribs with bruising force.

Startled, Luke jumped and overbalanced. He flailed for a moment, arms wind milling, before losing the battle to remain upright. He landed in a tangle of stool and limbs, too winded even to curse. Dr Strass gave a great shout of laughter and, to Luke’s eyes, came within an inch of falling himself as his seat rocked under the force of his glee.

Finally gaining his breath, Luke wheezed; “Maybe I won’t be coming back after all!”

Offering a hand, Dr Strass pulled Luke to his feet and dusted him down.

“Yeah, yeah Lukey-boy, that’s what they all say!”


5 thoughts on “Balintataw

  1. ahahaha! The last time I heard, Dr. Strass was “thinking about it” but now he’s looking forward to working with Luke again! I find them really cute. Lovely read, Sam. Looking forward to what happens next I’m rooting for Luke’s return. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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