The first egg was found in the center of a sunken Bass Pro Shops in southern Florida by a research submarine on an unofficial scavenging expedition. The two divers, who have requested to remain unnamed, placed the egg in a sample-collection tank in the hold, continued their survey, and then piloted the submarine back to base. The remainder of the trip, by their account, was uneventful. Upon retrieving the sample-collection tank from the hold, the divers were greeted by an unexpected addition: one egg had transformed into two. Confused at first, they tried to explain away this spontaneous generation. Perhaps in retrieving the first egg, they had accidentally picked up a second—or somehow, a second egg was already in the tank when they added the first. Nevertheless, they brought the eggs into the lab to see if anyone could identify them. Given the expedition’s unofficial nature, they did not yet involve anyone senior. Even so, the eggs won significant attention. By all accounts, something about their opalescence, their shape, their specific size, was just right: just like an egg should be. In the words of one of the scientists present, “I’d want to see the fish that laid those eggs. I’ve never studied fish, but I’d have changed career paths if I’d known I’d be seeing things like this. There’s just something about them…” Soon after, most of the team left the room to get dinner. Upon their return, they found four eggs in the tank. This instance of fission was less easy to explain away. With two data points available, they began to put together a pattern: eggs become more eggs. A little later another data point confirmed the theory. While the attention of everyone present had shifted to an intern who dropped a glass beaker on the floor, four eggs became eight. Given that conventional eggs rarely do this, interest in the eggs quickly rose across the lab to the point where management became aware of them. Receiving an urgent email from the biodiversity division, the head of biological studies rushed down to observe them for himself. Though he recalled being concerned about the implications of their growth as he walked in through the door, upon actually seeing the eggs he realized there was nothing to worry about; they were each so small and round, and gleamed with such a lovely shine in the tank they sat in. Despite the protocols in place regarding containment of lab samples, he decided to take one home with him as a gift for his wife, and encouraged others to do the same for their respective family and friends. Because, at this point, there were now thirty-two eggs—those in the room recall they divided twice, though no one seems to have witnessed the exact moment—there was plenty to go around. The senior biologist’s wife seemed confused at her husband’s gift when he first arrived home. “An egg?” she said, before she began to appreciate the way the light filtered through its translucent membrane. She put the egg in a decorative glass fish bowl on the mantelpiece, and began to prepare for a dinner party she was hosting. In between chopping vegetables for the salad and marinating the fish, her one egg had become four. As she set the table and guests began to arrive, she had to bring out an extra bowl to accommodate the sixteen eggs now sharing space on the mantelpiece. One of the guests was the owner of a popular local restaurant chain—the dinner party actually served to celebrate the opening of a new bar of the same name that the guests intended to visit after dessert. Having been treated to the tale of the eggs’ discovery by the head of biological studies, and having admired the soft, round contours of the eggs for themselves, the guests declared them “absolutely charming” by a broad consensus. Flattered, the biologist’s wife offered to let some of them go as party favors—an offer that was happily accepted by everyone present. The restaurant owner in particular took multiple, thinking of how lovely they would look in individual glasses, decorating the bar. As dinner wound to a close and the guests began to wander downtown, they brought eggs with them in small glasses and mason jars, bowls and plastic bags, and all sorts of makeshift containers. Some of them went to the opening of the new bar, and arranged eggs in layers of color-coordinated shot glasses until they passed out. Some went to other bars, or home, where they met friends and family and offered them eggs to take home to their friends and family. Some met up with people who already had eggs of their own, and they pooled their collections into fish tanks of ever increasing size. One woman, who had only come into the city to visit a friend, put an egg in a mason jar in her purse and got on a bus going north. The man sitting next to her noticed the jar peeking out, and struck by the way the spheres drifted gently in the water, requested one of the eggs for himself. The woman, filled with a feeling of generosity, gave him an egg, a plastic bag to keep it in, and the story of how the eggs had been discovered and shared within that small coastal town. And together, they watched with great joy as the eggs rolled and tumbled in their respective containers, swaying to the motion of the bus, glowing with a soft and pulsing light, preparing to hatch.
Lucy Paddock (HM '22) is taking Fiction Writing Workshop at Harvey Mudd this semester, where she has helped inspire the creation of a ban on students writing about eggs.