Surface Tension (Short Story)


I won’t tell you how I ended up beneath the pier, so don’t even ask.  The last thing I remember is Rut barking at me in my trailer because he was trying to get at a chocolate bar.  I put my foot right out in front of him and he looked up at me with the saddest eyes I had ever seen.  But that’s when it happened, I held onto a steaming cup of chamomile tea that consumed me instead of the other way around.  Had my heart skipped a beat before the herbal air sucked me in?  Not sure I care or whether it mattered in the end.


Directly Above Shot Of Spider Resting On Surface Tension Of Water

Surface Tension (Getty Images)

I had tried to stop it – so don’t even start in on me – but it pulled at every part of me from my fingers to my toes and the belt-loops in between.  I scraped at it, shouted over Rut’s frantic barks and the trailer’s creaking axle on the pier beneath me.  I gasped for air, as if it would stop it.  I’ll tell you, if I could slap at it, I tried.  It was just meant to be, so I succumbed and let whatever it was surround me.


I’m glad I did. It took me below.

The initial shock – if you can call that – wore off just like the eyes may adjust to opened doors at a matinee.  I learned to walk again, my steps above me, the earth somehow inverted,  and where the sun and clouds should have been a vast network of moons and stars smiled up at me.  Inside, a tranquil ocean centered me in a world of happiness I had only ever dreamed of.  My elbows unlocked, shoulders unhinged, and the knot in my neck and stitch at my side turned into a memory.  Even that, visions of  the good times, started to swirl in doubt like sometimes you may wonder if the ocean is really out there on a foggy day.  

I took steps, not really caring where I would go so long as that world stayed right above me.

The thing is, it made sense, each step I took dictated a likeness above me.  I was a shadow, and I liked it.  It suited me.  I had the me above to shield the sun’s intentions from the me below.  

Now don’t ask me why, I knelt to the earth, only it was up, and put my hands onto the surface.  The ground was cold, wet, like the sun wasn’t quite down yet.  I dug my hands deeper, not knowing exactly why but determined nonetheless.  The earth pinched at my palms, pulled dirt out from beneath my nails, healed scratch marks on my forearms as the the brittle ground and its roots took hold.

Scratch marks?  Rut.  He had been so excited at supper time he inadvertently dug his paw into me.

I froze, I’m willing to admit that.  In the world below, where the shadows dance even when they are still, I froze.  

I had left Rut alone in the trailer, the chocolate bar still within reach.

I dug further, until the pinching earth collapsed onto me and instead of pulling, it pushed me back below.  I widened my stance, and held my feet sturdy against the ground.  With cupped hands, I dug into the earth’s pulling surface, kicking my feet out beneath me until my tears soiled the sand above me.

The giggle caught me off guard, but I have to admit I felt pretty darn silly holding my breath as the upside world dragged me back from below.  Maybe that’s why I laughed before I opened my damped eyes, Rut’s slobber the first thing to hit me on the other side.

Categories: Creative Writing, Short Story, Writing

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