Opal Winehouse Research Laboratory
-Established in 1962, A Tradition of Excellence-
“May true knowledge never defy you.”-Valerie Cross
This is a very official report of paper from an extremely established laboratory—take that, Frederick Langford University (sorry, the lawyer in charge of producing this technical stationary was VERY bored)—to be used purely for research purposes. This report belongs to Amanda Driver and stealing any of the contents is copyright infringement and will be handled as such. Until published, the results of this report may not be for commercial use. If you have any questions you may contact +1 201-111-1111. If that number does not work then the phone lines are probably down and you may contact email@example.com. If that email address does not work then you may send a letter to 974 Eastern Avenue, Elm County New Jersey. If you do not receive a response within five to seven business days then there is probably a reason why we’re ignoring you. As said before, the lawyer writing this document sure was bored, but the secretary reviewing has an agenda that does not involve being any random Joe’s teacher.
The Effects of Nature vs. Nurture
Nature vs. Nurture has been a heated debate within the scientific community and I, Doctor Amanda Driver, will be using actual, quantifiable evidence to determine which is fundamental in a person’s behavior. Here I have infant twin daughters born from Tamira Wilkins and an unidentifiable paternal figure. Tamira Wilkins is now dead from “complications at birth” (I suspect the maternity ward is keeping secrets); nonetheless, the point being that both daughters are now orphans and up to my disposal. That sounds callous; scratch that. Both daughters are now up to my experimentation. Cue the evil laughter.
Elle and Nora. Those’re the girls’ names. Elle and Nora. Just like Eleanora, which is just like…goodness, why do I keep forgetting that this is a scientific report and not my personal journal? Come on, Amanda, forget about Eleanora. Elle and Nora. Those are the relevant girls.
Per the plan, Elle’s been adopted by the lovely Yang family of Northernland County, New York State. I still haven’t told them about the experiment. I know, I know, I’m breaking every rule of Psychology, but if I can pull through, this discovery’s going to be life-changing! Nora’s in an orphanage in the lesser-wealthy part of Manhattan. I gave the owners strict instructions to not give her up to any family. They didn’t listen until I gave them a couple hundred; exhausting my budget already, hence why I’m conducting this experiment on a note-pad…
I’ve been periodically observing both girls (oh, the virtues of hidden cameras). Elle can kind of walk but Nora’s a little mover-and-shaker. She’s also pretty loud, but what do you expect when you have twenty infants together in a room? Goodness, Elle’s parents are clueless. Of course the child’s going to fall over-no, no, no, don’t pick her back up, now she’ll never walk!
Well, happy birthday to little Elle and Nora. To think, just a year ago I started this beautiful experiment and now they’re walking, talking actual-human-beings…it just gets me so choked up. But back to business. They’re pretty developmentally-similar (though wouldn’t it be so boring if I were to come out of this realizing “both nature and nurture have an impact,” well golly-gee that sure wouldn’t change anything at all). Nora’s first word was “Mine.” Elle’s first word was “Flower.” So you can see how socio-economic status plays into this. But both hollered those words as loud as they could, like trumpets announcing “doo doo doo doo, the birthday princess has arrived!” Outside of that no updates, unfortunately.
Both girls are walking, talking, otherwise fully-functioning toddlers. I mean, they’re not toilet-trained, but the orphanage and Yangs aren’t going to be paying for diapers forever! Elle’s a sociable creature. She’s gotten a gang of little friends and gets them to pull her around in her wagon. Actually, they’re not really friends, more like indentured servants, but such is the way of a one-and-a-half-year-old. Nora prefers to sit in the corner and cry “Mommy!” I’m sure she’ll be adjusting shortly.
Happy birthday again to my little guinea pigs! Wow, that sounds creepy in writing. Either way, Elle’s going to be starting preschool soon! I don’t know what kind of a joke two-year-old preschool is, but apparently it exists and apparently she’s going. Not much new with Nora.
I have now observed two-year-old preschool and can testify to the fact that it’s literally just an organized playdate. All the teachers there think that Elle’s the cutest little button, what with her birthday being in the super-late summer so she technically makes the cut-off but is nearly a full year younger then the wannabe-football-stars whose mothers held them back a year so that they would be the biggest and the strongest and the fastest. Still, what can I really say about two-year-old preschool? Elle bosses around her subjects like it’s going out of style. Not much new with Nora.
I would say that this has gotten very repetitive very quickly, but then I just remind myself that I will be cracking one of the greatest cases in Psychology and my interest is peaked again. Anyway, happy third birthday to Elle and Nora. Elle had a vanilla cake. Nora had a chocolate cake. Elle can recite the alphabet forwards and backwards. Nora can recite the nearest drug dealer’s prices. To each their own, I guess. I mean, Eleanora dealt drugs…nope, Amanda, we’re not going down that road today. It’s a birthday, not a sad-day. Anyway, I’ve got some quantitative data that I may or may not have stolen from the mandatory well-visits required by New York State. Both girls are 94 cm and 14.2 kg. Completely average. Both know over 300 words, which is just above the benchmark. They speak in mostly-complete sentences. Grammatically incorrect, but mostly-complete. Elle has lots of friends. Nora has none. I’ll need to keep track of that.
Nora made a friend. Hooray for her! I mean, she actually beat him up and stole his candy bar, but he follows her around and does her bidding, which is not entirely different then Elle’s little clan. Both have adjusted to their home environments as best as said home environment can offer.
Happy fourth birthday. Nora’s right-handed. Elle is left. They’ve started legit preschool and are learning well enough. Not much new outside of that. Wow, my back hurts. I often forget that I’m getting so old!
You know how I work in a lab? And you know how there’re some lawyers in said lab? And you know how they all have secretaries because lawyers get whatever they want? Well one secretary dared to ask me whether I’m following accepted experimental procedures. Who does she think she is? Yes, Kathy, I am following all procedures. Oh, you think I need to have consistent days where I check in on the girls? How about you have consistent days where you check in on your husband. Wait, you can’t! Because you’re divorced! Because he left you because you got too boring for him! I really need to stop using this experiment as an emotional outlet.
Somehow Elle’s skipped a grade. Of course a group of pompous parents in the preschool-circle think it’s because the curriculum has nose-dived so very much basic addition is considered to be a kindergarten-only skill. But I believe it’s because Elle is truly smart enough. Why must we always take from innocent children’s’ glory? Elle is a brilliant little girl and she deserves to be in an appropriate grade. You know who else skipped a grade? Goodness, Amanda, stop going there.
Happy fifth birthday to the girls! I feel as if they’re my own children. Actually, no. I feel as if they’re my nieces and I’m the crazy-cat-aunt that never gets to attend celebratory gatherings and must stalk from afar. Elle is doing wonderfully in kindergarten. She’s already at the top of her class, won the Bookworm award for completing the most Elephant and Piggy books, and has never colored outside of the lines. She’s really the best child anybody could ask for. Not much new with Nora.
Elle’s got a boyfriend. He’s kind of like Nora’s boyfriend but better—did I forget to write about Nora’s boyfriend. He’s the one she beat up and now he’s given her a rose he took from somebody’s garden. Nora uses it to poke her teachers. Anyway, Elle’s boyfriend is much nicer, though it’s probably just because Elle herself is sweeter. When she got a rose, she put it in a vase on her bedroom window-sill. Do I sound like I’m favoring Elle? I really shouldn’t be allowed to do that but it’s quite hard not to. You’d really need to see Elle to understand what a great kid she is. When she dates it isn’t creepy because she’s just too cute.
Well, the Board of Reviews has gotten ahold of this note-pad and decided that I’m conducting myself “unprofessionally.” They asked me to please stop using personal pronouns and keep my sister out of it. How do they know about Eleanora?
Now the Board of Reviews has decided that they need to stop funding me. Funding what, I asked? I took a down payment to keep Nora in that grimy orphanage and that was about it. Funding my salary, they clarified. My salary? It’s barely anything! They ought to fire Kathy instead, I suggested; it isn’t like she does much, and the cut would cover me. They told me they do not appreciate my attitude. I told them to please jump in a lake-
This note-pad has been confiscated by the same bored lawyer as before. The Opal Winehouse Research Laboratory is refusing Amanda Driver further research privileges until she can conduct herself in a professional and unpartisan manner.
Can you believe it? I had to spend a year fighting to continue with this project. A year! An entire year! You know what can happen in a year? Lots of things. Eleanora can get out of prison, for one. Then Eleanora can drink too much alcohol and get in a car and crash said car and be rushed to the local hospital but because said hospital is tired of her bothering them with her drug over-doses they refuse her treatment until she dies—you know what, I can’t do this today.
I’m trying this again, and…nope, I can’t.
You know what the worst part of a funeral is? When all the condescending relatives show up and start criticizing. “Eleanora wouldn’t have done this if she wasn’t a druggie.” “Eleanora wouldn’t have done this if she wasn’t an alcoholic.” Done what? Now she chose to die? It was a car accident, not a suicide! But the worst is “At least the good sister’s left.” Yep. That’s me. The good sister. Not the Psychologist. Not the researcher. Not the published scientist. The good sister. People forget how large the burden is when you’re the one single-handedly keeping up your family’s appearance.
Holy smokes, it’s been two years since I last checked in on the girls! See, Board of Reviews, this is what happens when you interrupt me! Either way, happy birthday to my beloved Elle and Nora, currently the only ones with my deceased sister’s namesake. They’re doing well enough. Nora’s still got that boyfriend she beat up four years ago or so. Elle’s excelling at school. Funnily enough, she never actually does any of her homework, but she’s excelling at making it look like she’s excelling. I’ve never met so many adults who had such trust in a child. In celebration of her birthday, Elle’s parents told her that she was adopted. I’m not sure how that’s something you tell a child. Like a gender reveal party or a coming-out. I don’t get it. So what if the child’s adopted? Does it really matter if the child knows that? Elle seemed to take it the same way I would have. She just kind of stared at her parents, said “Okay,” and resumed playing. Her parents asked if she missed her biological mother and she said no, she never knew the woman so why should she care now? I appreciate Elle.
I have decided that the ages seven through nine must be the worst for a parent. From infancy to six there are so many developments, then from eleven to nineteen teenage-hood and its rebellions loom above like a storm cloud, and then from twenty on the child’s not really your problem anymore. But seven to nine is just waiting for all this to happen but not much really happening at all. Like I know the kids learn more, they go from writing one sentence to writing whole essays and from simple addition to long division, and they get plenty taller, but outside of that there is literally no difference between this year’s birthday and the last. Happy birthday, Elle and Nora. You were both pretty dull this past year. Both on par with each other. I’m not sure what else there is to say.
I jinxed it. Of course I did. Guess who went and started a fight and has since been suspended? Nora, right? Actually no, it was Elle. I had all my bets on Elle being like me, Elle being the “good” one, and now she went and provoked two random and honestly stupid kids and the one tried to stab the other with a plastic fork (and she even had her pencil, her sharp, pointy-tipped pencil, right next to her, I’m telling you those kids are not the brightest bulbs and Elle raises the IQ of the room by about one hundred points) and now the other’s parents are pressing charges. You know what happens when parents press charges? The school launches an investigation. And guess what they have found? That the first girl only used the plastic fork because Elle bothered her in some way or another. They’re completely ignoring the fact that stabby-girl used cutlery as a weapon! So now Elle needs to do community service. And because I’m on a jinxing-roll today, she has been assigned to the very orphanage her long-lost twin is hanging out in. Tell me how that is not patronizing to any eight-year-old involved. “Hey orphans, look at this girl your very age who has so much more then you, and become indebted to her services!” Sometimes I wish I could control more in experiments then just one variable.
Elle and Nora. Eleanora. Elle and Nora. The names have been pulsing in my head all day, blending together; it’s as if Eleanora’s spirit has split in half and taken home in the girls because they’ve become fast friends. They also have no qualms about discussing anything. I’m watching them right now. They’ve realized that they were related at some point, because they’re intelligent children, and now Nora’s questioning what orphanage Elle’s from. Elle reveals that she’s been adopted and has since birth. Nora asks why Elle’s parents couldn’t have just adopted them both. Elle shrugs. Nora proclaims her hatred for Elle’s parents. Elle shrugs again. Nora eventually reaches the conclusions that she wants to…kill Elle’s parents? Did I hear that right? Way to escalate the situation, Nora. Oh, no, no, no, Elle decides she wants to kill them too. Kill your parents, Elle? Why? What have they done wrong? Hold up, Nora asks that very question. Elle admits that she doesn’t really love her parents either way. Elle, stop being an edgy-preteen. Wait no, Elle’s serious. This is some next-level Psychopathy right here. Sorry, I’m the Psychologist; I shouldn’t use mental disorders lightly.
I am very tired and my typing is very blurry because I got two hours of sleep last night after being repeatedly called to the police station. Guess who snuck into the Youngs’ bedroom last night with two large pillowcases and plastic bags? You don’t need to guess. We all know it was Elle and Nora. Eleanora’s spirit really did inhabit them. I’ve been re-watching the camera tapes all day trying to figure out who was the instigator and who the instigated. Nora was the one who suggested the murder, but Elle was the one who made the plan. Nora was the one who made the weapons but Elle was the one who let her into the house. It would be Nora’s fault, technically, for being the first to put the pillow on Ms. Young’s face, blocking her breathing, but Nora tripped and fell and knocked things over about fifteen times and wouldn’t have even gotten to the bedroom undetected if it weren’t for Elle’s quick reactions. So would it be Elle’s fault? No, because I doubt she would have thought of murdering her parents alone. Or would she have? Is it nature or nurture or nurture or nature…or both, the worst of the responses, because when something’s a mixture you can’t tell any of it apart.
So now I’m being sued. Actually, the research lab is being sued because the police argued that I knew about the attempted murder twenty days before thanks to my tapes and did nothing to report it. Maybe I would have reported it if…it’s all my fault. There really is no reason for why I shouldn’t have reported it outside of the fact that I wanted to keep my research to myself, or didn’t think it was a threat, or whatever, I just now a have a lot of paperwork to deal with. Somebody end this misery. Figuratively.
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Hi Meggy, I enjoyed your story and the stream of consciousness style. I liked the contradiction with the story being in the rigid format of the notes of an experiment, but with a chaotic experimental methodology. I also liked the duality of this story, with it really being the second experiment on nature Vs nurture between siblings, as her observations/comparison of herself with her sister was her first 'study'. Happy writing
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your reading and am grateful for your feedback! And I am so pleased that you caught on to both experiments! Thank you for reading! :)
You're welcome :)