UNIVERSAL GRAVITATION

 

This was an assignment for my creative writing class.

Newton’s Law of universal gravitation

F = (G m M/r2) e, where m and M are the masses of the two bodies, r is the distance between the two, and e is a unit vector directed from the first mass to the second.

On the day Bryan met Liz the Law of Universal Gravitation applied to all those looking for love. To cut a physics lecture short, it meant that two bodies (in this case people) attracted each other with equal and opposite forces. Didn’t get that? Here’s an example: The moon’s pull on the earth is proportional to how the earth pulls on the moon. On the day Bryan met Liz, something similar happened.

Bryan was walking down 6th Avenue towards his usual subway station on West 3rd street. There was nothing different about this Tuesday, at least nothing yet. So Bryan walked along his usual route to school, wondering again why higher education had to start so early in the morning. He took his usual notice of the small garden and its pink flowers, heard his sneakers make their usual sound against the sidewalk, and felt his faded blue jeans and dark green sweater take their usual places on the contours of his body.

Just as the clock struck seven a.m.—he was certain of the time because he had looked down at his watch to make sure he wouldn’t be late—he felt himself being pulled away from the subway. His sneakers scraped the ground as he was pulled. And he was definitely being pulled. It wasn’t the wind. No. No wind was blowing. (No wind can pull). But here he was, being whisked through the streets to that strange part of the village where West 4th and West 12th is actually a street corner.

Mothers with bleary eyed children stared as he was spirited away by the unseen force. Well-meaning men in business suits tried to grab hold of him, only to find themselves on the ground. And several people picked up their mobile phones. Maybe it was to call 9-1-1, or maybe it was to tweet the incident. Bryan wasn’t sure.

The force dropped him on the cobblestones of 9th Avenue and Gansevoort Street. His right side hit the ground with a thud. “Ugh,” he said, as he tried to get up; his elbow and knee beginning to throb from the impact. Thankful that he hadn’t hit his head, Bryan got himself to a sitting position. That’s when he saw Liz.

He’d never seen her before, but the moment he did, he felt a tug at his heart. It didn’t make sense that he felt the tug because with her milk white skin and red hair, she clearly wasn’t his type. But there was something about the angle of her nose, the curve of her mouth, and the way her cheek rested on her hand that… Okay, he didn’t have time to stop and analyse. This woman, clad in a fluffy pink bathrobe with white polka dots on it, was lying on the cobblestones, about five feet away from him, and she was unconscious.

No! She can’t be unconscious! he thought.

Forgetting about the pain, he half-crawled towards her, touching her shoulder with his left hand.

“Hey,” he said, shaking her gently. “Hey, you okay?”

What a dumb thing to say, he thought. She’s obviously not okay if she’s passed out on the street.

“Ssshhh,” came the reply. “I’m trying to go back to sleep.”

Bryan sighed with relief. She was conscious.

“Did you, uh, dream that you were pulled by some kind of force that brought you here?”

Her eyes flew open. “Dumped here is more like it,” she said.

“Why don’t you sit up?” he asked, holding out a hand to help her.

She took it and pulled herself up. “I’m Liz,” she said.

“I’m Bryan.”

“I know,” she replied. “We’re in the same physics class.” Not giving him a chance to respond, she continued. “So… you said something about an invisible force?”

Bryan hesitated. “I don’t know what it was. All I know is that I was walking towards the subway and then the clock struck seven and I was pulled here. By something I couldn’t see.”

“It doesn’t seem to have hurt you too much,” she said, prompting Bryan to look himself over. No, his jeans weren’t ripped. Yes, his sweater was a little muddy. Other than that, he seemed okay.

“I might have a hairline fracture on my arm,” he said. “I kind of landed on it.”

“Well, I landed on my bum.”

“Your tailbone okay?”

“It hurts,” she said. “But that’s about it.”

They were silent for a minute, looking around them at the deserted streets. “I had just gotten out of bed. I was about to make coffee when I was pulled here.”

“Hmm…,” was Bryan’s reply. “That explains the bathrobe.”

Liz bit her lip. “Yeah, and I don’t have my wallet or house keys on me so I’m going to have to a) figure out how to get home and b) find a way to break into my house.”

“Where do you live?” Bryan asked. “And how did you get pulled out of the house?”

“Oh,” she said, becoming thoughtful. “The door had opened. Maybe it’s still open.”

“Maybe,” he said, slowly standing up. “I’ll give you money for a cab. I hope it isn’t far.”

“I live on 10th Avenue and 41st street,” she said, getting to her feet as well.

“Yeah, that’s a bit of a walk,” Bryan said, looking down at her feet. “Especially with just a bathrobe and those slippers.”

He pulled out his wallet and took out $20.00, which was pretty much all he had in there. “Here.”

“Thanks.” She took it from him and stuck it in the pocket of her bathrobe. Then she adjusted the garment so that it covered more of her chest. Bryan couldn’t tell if she was wearing anything underneath. “Pay you back Thursday?”

“Don’t worry about it. Come on, let’s head for the sidewalk.”

Bryan began to walk towards the street corner. He’d taken five steps before he found that he couldn’t walk any farther. It was like something was pressing against him. Turning, he saw that Liz hadn’t moved, but that she was staring at him curiously.

“What?”

“Well, you started walking and I started getting pulled forward,” she said. “So I tried my best to stay put.”

“Hmm… and now I can’t move forward.”

Liz took two steps forward. “Can you walk another two steps?” she asked.

Turning back to the street corner, Bryan found that he could indeed take two more steps, two steps he hadn’t been able to take before. He turned back to her. “Something really weird is happening.”

“Thank you, Captain Obvious.”

“I think we’re stuck to each other… kind of stuck.”

A look of determination crossed her face. “Then we’ll have to figure out how to get un-stuck,” she said. “But until then, it seems we’ll have to move together.”

They started walking, side-by-side, towards the 9th Avenue street corner. Bryan looked left and right for a cab, noting that the streets were still pretty empty.

“We might have to walk towards seventh to get a cab,” he said.

“That’s fine,” Liz replied. “If we pass by a place, let’s get coffee.”

And that was their beginning.

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