Friday 13 March 2020

Surface Tension

by Jim Bates


He remembered it from biology class. Surface tension. It meant, The tendency of water molecules to shrink into the smallest area possible. He remembered something else, too, about a water bug being able to walk across the surface, which at the time he'd thought was pretty amazing.
            He'd never been the best student and probably failed the science test back then, just like he'd done years later with their marriage; failed. He'd shrunk, become smaller as a human being while she'd grown and blossomed like the flowers he grew in his carefully tended garden. He'd stayed safe and secure in his IT job. She had grown like the bright blooming lilies in that same garden, excelling as a fast tracked manager in an prestigious marketing firm, making new friends, traveling both home and abroad and even joining a running club and completing a triathlon. She'd grown and he hadn't. He'd taken the safe way, kept his head down and played it safe. She'd moved on like that water bug, moving ever foreword, fearlessly into the unknown.
            Now this.
            Sure they'd tried, especially during those early years. They'd made time for date night once a week and together planned three getaway vacations each year. But now, nine years in, their interests had changed and they'd drifted apart and their marriage had died. He hadn't been enough for her. She had given up and now she was telling him she was leaving, moving on.
            "I've had it, Bill," she said coming down from upstairs. "I just need something different."
            He had nothing to say, knew her leaving was inevitable yet now was emotionally unprepared and stunned speechless by the finality of it all.
            "But...But..." he finally mustered
            "No buts, Bill. It's over."
            He watched her eyes slip off his to some unknown, but for her, eagerly anticipated future. A future that didn't include him. There was a twinkle there. And something else he hadn't seen for years. A spark. She was on fire with her passionate desire to leave.
            She picked up a single suitcase and her laptop satchel, kissed him on the forehead and turned and walked out the front door.
            He watched as the door closed, leaving him alone. She was gone, gone for good. The finality finally settling in, a heavy weight in his chest. Man, how he still loved her. Man, how he wished he could change. Man, how he knew that he couldn't.
            He went to sink and ran some water, filling the teapot. Some tea would be nice, some nice soothing chamomile perhaps. He sat waiting for the water to boil, looking out the window toward his garden but not seeing it. Time slowing to a crawl.
            The water started boiling, the teapot whistling but he didn't hear a thing. He stood and started into space, remembering the rest of the definition for surface tension. How it allowed for objects to float on the water's surface. Suspended and drift less. Just he felt now.

 About the author

Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared in many online and print publications. His collection of short stories Resilience is scheduled to be published in 2020 by Bridge House Publishing. All of his stories can be found on his blog:

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