Help me! I'm Diene!

Teaching Organic Chemistry through Fiction

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Sn Reactions - You & Me, We Have Chemistry - Pt. 1: If you're not part of the solution...
rsou wrote in help_im_diene
Title: You and Me; We Have Chemistry (so let's bond) Part 1: If you're not part of the solution... then just leave
Author: rsou
Concept: Sn1 Reactions; Step 1-Leaving Group Departure
Length: 1853 words; 1/5; multi-part
Rating: G
Genre: General Fiction
Summary: "All we do is sing ridiculously sappy songs about unrequited love or whatever; like this song. It’s stupid, not to mention boring.... I’m leaving."
Disclaimer: The following characters are anthropomorphic representations of atoms that are bonded to each other to form molecules. In actuality, atoms do not have free will and all atomic activity is a result of electronic attraction to form a more stable product.

You and Me; We Have Chemistry
so let's bond
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Part One: If you're not part of the solution... then just leave

Adrian propped his head on his hands and sighed. They were a good band, and Adrian didn’t ever doubt that. Sure, maybe Lisa Green’s vocals didn’t suit the songs that they sang—she had a bit of a raspy voice that just didn’t fit the more upbeat stuff that he and Brandon liked to write—but Lisa could hit those high notes like nobody else that they knew.

Okay, so she was also a bit of a selfish snob who hogged the spotlight. That didn’t make their band—fondly called the Super Nuclear Ones thanks to Adrian’s mother—any less great. Adrian shook his head and sighed. They were good and it was time for them to prove it. He had seen a poster by the library the other day about some sort of competition coming up; if they could win that....

“What’re you thinking about, Adrian?” Brandon asked cheerfully as he tuned his guitar. He adjusted the strap on his shoulder. “You’re awfully quiet today.” From beside him, Cathy nodded. Small and quiet, she was easily drowned out by the louder Lisa. When Adrian and Brandon had started to form the band a year ago when tenth grade was just starting, Brandon had grabbed his thirteen-year-old younger cousin Cathy to be a vocalist while Adrian had made a beeline for their classmate Lisa.

“Nothing really,” Adrian replied, shrugging. No point in discussing a competition if Lisa wasn’t here. He nodded towards the empty space that Lisa usually occupied. “Where’s Lisa?”

“No clue,” Brandon said. He waved a hand in the air. “So guess what? I had a dream last night.”

“Oh really,” Adrian drawled.

Cathy laughed, covering her mouth with a hand. Her eyes shone with mischief. “Was it a good dream?” she asked politely.

Brandon narrowed his eyes at Adrian before shrugging. “And I wrote a song inspired by the dream. It’s called ‘Don't Leave Me.’” He nodded at a notebook at his feet. “It’s there.” He added, “Cathy already read it. She likes it.”

Cathy nodded in agreement. “It’s cute,” she said. “But it’s also kinda sad.”

Adrian stood up from where he sat at the drums and picked up the music sheets. Brandon’s handwriting was vaguely atrocious, but it was better than his. The lyrics were also probably some of the corniest things he’d ever read, but then again, they weren’t much worse than what he churned out every now and then. But the melody—he hummed the tune under his breath—it sounded good. Good enough to maybe use for the competition. “Good luck trying to get Lisa to sing this,” he muttered reluctantly; he didn’t think that she’d sing about unrequited love for a competition. It was hard enough to convince her to sing these types of songs for fun.

“I know,” Brandon said. “It’s a cute song though.”

Cathy nodded in agreement. “I said that already,” she reminded the two of them.

“It is cute,” Adrian said reluctantly. “I like the tune.” He tapped the paper. “Your lyrics make you sound like you’re a twelve year old girl,” he added to Brandon, just to be a jerk.

Cathy frowned.

“So do yours,” Brandon replied placidly. He nodded towards the drum set. “I’ll attempt to warble this song while we wait for Lisa.” He glanced at Cathy. “Unless you want to?”

Cathy shook her head. “I’ll sing along,” she said. “But you should do it.” She smiled, the edges of her eyes crinkling in amusement. “It’s your song.”


When Lisa arrived, Brandon was gasping for breath while Adrian pounded a fist against the floor in hysterical laughter. Cathy was sitting by a low wall of boxes giggling into her hands.

“Do that again, do that again,” Adrian urged. “That warbly falsetto thingy.” He wiggled his finger meaningfully, and Cathy laughed harder.

Brandon rolled his eyes. “No,” he said, but he was grinning.

Cathy took a deep breath, steadying herself. “You should,” she urged.

“Do I want to know what’s going on?” Lisa asked, dropping her backpack on the floor.

Lisa didn’t know why she was still with this band. Adrian had been in her music class in ninth grade, and when he and Brandon had decided to form a band she had gotten roped into it as, “The only girl I know who can hold a note properly, so please?” It had seemed fun at first, even if Brandon had brought in his younger cousin who could barely sing. After a while though, it got old; who would have known that Adrian and Brandon both liked to write pop-rock with unrequited love as the topic?

Lisa rolled her eyes and glared at the three of them, hands on her hips. “Can we take this seriously?”

Adrian sobered up, and Cathy stopped giggling in her corner. “Sure, Lisa. We’ve got a new song that you might want to try out. But let’s just go over some of our old stuff first.” He pulled himself back onto the drum stool and flexed his hands.

Lisa perched herself on a cardboard box labeled “Old Toys,” humming a bit to get her vocal cords into shape. “Okay, hit it,” she said.

Adrian pulled himself back onto the drum stool, as Brandon adjusted his guitar. Cathy clapped her hands together in anticipation; Adrian lifted his drum sticks in the air and counted them off.

They played through the song once before Adrian stopped them. “Stop trying to hog the song,” Adrian snapped to Lisa. “We’re all here, you don’t need to take even Cathy’s part too.”

Lisa tossed her hair. “Whatever.” She rolled her eyes. “It’s not like I want to.”

“Let’s not fight,” Brandon murmured. “Come on. Let’s keep practicing.”

Cathy nodded, and reluctantly Lisa and Adrian also nodded. “Alright,” Lisa muttered, and the rest of the afternoon was lost to cacophonous music.


Adrian tapped a rhythm on the snare drum, rolling the sticks in his hand. He stared at the ceiling, wondering where Lisa and Cathy were. “Where are they?”

“Cathy’s got a project with a classmate,” Brandon said with his pick clenched between his teeth.

Adrian shrugged. “Well, as long as she makes time for the band, it’s okay.”

Brandon shrugged back. “Cathy will. She likes being in this band. School’s school though. Anyways, let’s try that ‘Don't Leave Me’ song again before the girls get here.”

“What about girls?” Cathy poked her head in from the door, fingers smudged with black ink and a book-bag on her shoulders.

“Oh, good. Cathy, you’re here,” Brandon said with a grin. “How was the project?”

“It was good.” Cathy stepped into the room. “Danielle—that’s my partner for the project—she’s awfully nice. We worked out everything we wanted to do, and we’re going to meet up again soon to actually work on it.”

“That’s great,” Adrian muttered. “Do you think we can work on our music now?”

“You want to sing along to ‘Don't Leave Me?’” Brandon asked Cathy, frowning at Adrian.

Cathy blinked, and smiled, her entire face lighting up. “Okay!”


Lisa stomped in—bag in one hand and a crumpled post-it in the other—as Cathy had taken over the melody for ‘Don't Leave Me.’ Cathy stopped in surprise, leaving only the chords and 2/4 beat in the background before they too petered out.

“Hi Lisa,” Adrian said blandly. He drummed a quick rat-a-tat on the snare drum, foot pounding the bass drum. “You’re late,” he added, raising an eyebrow.

“Whatever,” Lisa muttered. “What are we doing today?”

Adrian and Brandon exchanged glances. Cathy shrugged from where she sat in Lisa’s usual spot, arms and legs swinging in childish glee. “We can keep singing this song?” she suggested. She waved the lyric sheet in the air by Lisa’s arm. “I like it a lot,” she said.

Lisa dropped her bag, snagged the sheet and read the lyrics. “Of course you’d like it,” she said disdainfully.

Cathy frowned. “What does that mean?” She slowly stood up.

“I mean the lyrics are ridiculous!” Lisa waved the paper in the air. Cathy reached for it, but Lisa pulled it out of her reach. “How can you stand writing this tripe?”

Brandon huffed a little. “They are perfectly reasonable lyrics,” he said calmly.

Adrian didn’t have Brandon’s patience. “Look, Lisa,” he began.

“No,” Lisa snapped. “You guys listen to me. All we do is sing ridiculously sappy songs about unrequited love or whatever; like this song. It’s stupid, not to mention boring.”

“I like it,” Cathy murmured softly.

Lisa glared at Cathy. “Of course you’d like it. You’re a silly little kid.”

Cathy faced Lisa firmly, mouth pursed in a frown. “I’m not a little kid, and I’m not silly.” she said simply. “I just appreciate music like this instead of running away from it.”

Lisa scoffed. “Appreciate? Music like this? It’s the type of stuff that preteens listen to.”

“And what’s wrong with that?” Adrian drawled. “Somebody’s got to make the music that they listen to.”

“I don’t understand what’s wrong with this type of music,” Brandon added placidly. “It’s not what most people our age listen to, still good” He fiddled with his strings.

Lisa laughed a short laugh. “Keep telling yourself that.”

Cathy frowned.

Brandon smiled. “I will. Thank you.”

The wind blown out of her sails, Lisa froze. “Uh,” she managed.

Adrian turned back to his drum-set. “Are you going to just stand there?” He twirled the sticks between his fingers. “Or are we going to practice?”

Lisa blinked at them.

Cathy sat back down, carefully. She watched the three of them, her eyes flicking between each of them like a three-way tennis match. Brandon relaxed slightly from where he had tensed up. His hand flexed around the neck of his guitar, fluttering open and closed.

Lisa shook her head. “No,” she said firmly. She looked at the three of them, pieces of a jigsaw that just fit together. “No, we’re not going to practice now.” She shoved the lyric sheet back into Cathy’s limp hands. “I’m done,” she snapped.

“What do you mean?” Brandon asked.

Lisa bared her teeth at them in a mockery of a grin. “I’m leaving,” she said. Then, she reached down and lifted her bag to her shoulder, and walked out.

Adrian stared at her back. “Well, good riddance.” he snorted.

Brandon frowned. “Adrian. Our lead singer just left.”

Adrian gaped back.

Cathy buried her face in her hands. “Oh no.” She frowned worriedly at the boys. “What’ll we do now?”

Continue here for the concept explanation.
Skip to Part Two

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