Saturday, July 25, 2009

Newton's Third Law

She touched him on his back. About three-quarters of the way up. Halfway between left and right.

In that place behind the heart.

“I’m claiming this spot as mine,” she said. “It belongs to me.”

“Oh, really?”


Her fingertip followed the edges of a mole’s imperfect circle.

“And why is that?” he said.

“Because it’s the only place on your body that I can reach, and you cannot.”

“Not true. I can’t touch all sorts of parts. My pancreas, for example, is just out of reach.”

Her nail dug in a millimeter. Or three.

“You were saying,” he said.

She resumed the soft swirls, and smiled at the gooseflesh rippling up and down his back. Thinking suddenly, and mistakenly, of Newton’s Third Law.

For every action . . .

“I’m even going to give it a name,” she said.

“Make it good.”

She brushed the spot with the back of her fingers, like a petal scraping up sunlight.

“Don’t leave me in suspense,” he said.

“Okay. Just thinking.” She cleared her throat. “So I hereby dub this country The Land of—”

She broke off.


“Pay attention, dummy. I’m trying to spell it out for you.”

Her finger slid slowly down, and then flicked to the side. Like a person deciding at the last second to cross a street.

“L,” he said.

Her finger circled the mole, which sat in the land behind his heart, and a scapula rolled in response.

“O,” he said. “But this is too easy. It’s reminding me of my least favorite superhero. You know the one? Master of the Obvi—”

Her finger curved, and curved again. Stopping just shy of infinity.

“Esss,” he said, and frowned.

“You should have more faith in me,” she said. “Even when I don’t seem to deserve it.”

“I'd agree to anything right now.”

Her finger drew vertical and lifted. Then a slash through the middle of the line. To make the last letter, but also a symbol of sacrifice.

“There,” she said. “All done.”

She brushed her hands together and placed them in her lap.

“Mm,” he said. “I see.”

She stretched out beside him on the rug so that they could look into one another’s eyes. Her feet curled to the bend of his knees. The shadows of the fireplace’s flames licked at the walls of the room and danced across their canvas skin. Painting perpetual motion.

She smiled at his pinched forehead. “I confused you.”

“I’m just not sure I get your meaning.”

She got a little closer. So he got much closer. They found the equal for every body part, and its opposite, too.

“It’s simple. Whenever you’re feeling lost, I’ll touch you right here.”

She placed her palm and fingers over the spot—about three-quarters up his back, halfway between left and right, in that place behind the heart—and pushed his full weight into hers.

“And I’ll find you once again.”


I'm sure most of you saw this photo awhile back.
But I'll link to its story in case you didn't.
Photo courtesy of Archaeological Society SAP.


Aniket said...

I lovvvvvvvvved it!

Again, you describe the actions so very well. I felt as if I was prying into their intimate privacy. Great, great work!

I love your dialogue vignettes, you know it. I have nothing else to say but that you're awesome and its so good to see you posting again. :D

And the pic just added to magic! What a wonderful start to a sunday, that I read this! :)

Catvibe said...

Oh Sarah, that was truly fabulous. Reading it, I felt warm and a slow smile descended across my face as I inched ever forward, word by succulent word.

The picture was perfect.

Sarah Hina said...

Aniket, thank you!! Your comment was a wonderful way to start my Sunday, so I appreciate that. :)

I'll give my daughter credit for this idea. She loves me to "write" letters on her back. I liked the idea of communicating something important with a light touch.

Cat, it seems I succumbed to romance again, even after my last comment to you. Incurable, I guess...

Thank you for your words here--they made me very warm in return. :) And yes, that photo struck me as being strangely fitting. I'm glad you saw it, too.

Karen said...

Sarah - I am so glad you are posting again, and when I read this I know why! You have such a talent, and I feel privileged to read your work here. Having said that, now to the piece: Like Aniket, I feel that I've eavesdropped on a most private and tender moment. The dialogue -- so difficult to write with versimilitude -- is perfectly rendered. I love the photo, and I had not seen the original story, so I thank you for the link and the imaginings it stirs.

Charles Gramlich said...

You do relationship intimate moments better than anyone.

Aine said...

Oh, Sarah!! You've outdone yourself with this one! Just outstanding...

Ditto what Charles said. You are the queen of romance (and there's nothing Harlequin about it!) You give us amazingly literary yet earthy, dignified yet sensuous moments of imperfect human perfection.

sigh... (again)

Sarah Hina said...

Karen, I was secretly hoping someone would see that photo for the first time! Isn't it amazing?? Such a rare visual of love's timeless embrace.

I am so honored and humbled by what you've said. You capture what I want to do in these types of vignettes--to be intensely romantic yet true. Thank you so much, Karen. :)

Charles, you say a lot with so few words. Thank you for that high, high compliment.

Aine, I love imperfect human perfection! Like Karen, you see exactly what I strive to do. :)

Thank you so much for the enthusiasm!! This one felt really good and easy to write. :)

Margaret said...

Sarah - This is just too beautiful to describe. It felt so real. Was I just reading it from your blog or was I part of it? Every single word seemed to touch me so intensely.

My favourite lines: Her finger curved, and curved again. Stopping just shy of infinity.

You write absolutely amazing Sarah.

I hadn't seen the pic before, it's just perfect here.

Anonymous said...

This vignette is really outstanding. Truly. Such a perfect blend of moment, meaning, and timeless. I'll remember this one a long time. :)

Sarah Hina said...

Margaret, I'm dealing with the worst toothache of my life today, and yet your comment truly made me smile. :)

Seriously, thank you for your lovely words. I especially appreciated your pointing out those lines. It really is a joy to share our work this way.

Jason, thank you so much. :)

These are, without a doubt, my favorite kinds of vignettes to write. I do love that dance of detail and dialogue.

the walking man said...

A few people can write a loving vignette like you do Sarah. If i had any romantic bone left un-shattered behind the heart i would have loved this piece.

Ello said...

BEautiful intimate moment. And the picture is so touching. sigh. So romantic.

I'm trying to stay out of sight but had to pop by and say hi! When's the book coming out?!!!

Chris Eldin said...

Oh Sarah, I was literally on the edge of my seat for this one! You capture these moments so perfectly. Both your vignette and the photo give me goosebumps. Lovely!!!
I'm so happy you're back!!

Bob said...

Beautiful... I really love this.

Sarah Hina said...

Mark, I think I can still see that part of you. But maybe I'm wearing my rose-colored glasses today. Either way, I thank you for the sentiment. :)

Ello, I'm supposed to kick you in the butt now!! And your little piggy, too!

Aw, who am I kidding? I'm thrilled you took a break from revisions to stop by! I've missed seeing you (and piggy). :)

The book has been delayed until August 2010. I know. Bummer.

You're still getting one of the first copies, though. :)

Chris, I'm happy to be posting more often, too! And visiting again. :)

I'm so glad this piece grabbed you that strongly. It was a pleasure to write.

Bob, it's really good to see you again. Thank you so much for the kind words. :)

Vesper said...

What an exquisite vignette, Sarah! You're playing on the instrument that is our heart and always getting the music that you want...

Thank you for the link to the article. Very interesting.

Sarah Hina said...

Vesper, that's a lovely way to put it! Thank you so much for listening. :)

lena said...

thats such a perfect piece, seems so real as if it is happening just next to you. And you are witnessing one of the intimate moment trying to make sure they wont notice you till you realize it all is just a story. But indeed a beautiful one :)

Aniket said...

Many Happy returns of the day, Sarah!

Hope you get a super great party today!