Ok, Shan, this one is for you…
“Here’s a question – in space, why don’t all the pencils and other floating things fall into the gravity of the astronauts? Is ti air resistance inside the ship?” Jim was staring intently at the pencil he was twirling between his fingers.
“I would guess it had more to do with the distance and amount of pull. Humans aren’t all that massive, compared to a planet. I would say even a pencil is too big for them to exert a pull on.”
“I suppose that makes sense. I like the idea of air resistance better though.” He looked away absently for a bit, then put the pencil down in favor of a small scrap of notebook paper. “What about germs? Do you think bacteria are small enough to be sucked in by human gravity?” He accordioned the paper carefully.
“Maybe. I’m not really sure of the numbers. But would that mean bacteria are only found on certain sides of things on Earth, where they are aided by, rather than resistant to, gravity? And if not, what kind of sticking mechanism do they have?”
“Flies have tiny hooks in their legs to let them walk on ceilings. Maybe some bacteria do as well.”
“I don’t think it works quite the same for single-celled organisms.” I took the sheet out of his hands and propped it between the salt and pepper shakers, making a little house. “Maybe they exude some kind of oozy stuff for sticking.”
“Maybe you just think germs are oozy.”
“Well, they are.” I pick up a paper clip – it would make a nice person for our home – and began twisting the wire. “Just because my beliefs reflect the natural world doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” My eye’s are on the twisting, so I don’t see him holding his hand out for a minute, but then I place my half-finished creation in his palm.
“You know, women have more bacteria on their hands than men. It’s proven.” He finished our person and puts it in the house.
“Really? Well, then now you have my cooties.” I wipe my hands all over his, and he smiles.
He catches one of my hands in his, warming it. My hands are always cold. “Most of them are benign, anyway.”
It’s odd the way touch affects others. The current of life runs along the skin of our bodies, occasionally magnetizing, occasionally switching polarities, occasionally repelling. The salamander, regrowing its tail, drives electric currents away from the re-forming growth, electrifying itself a la Dr. Frankenstein. The tip of a finger, once lost, may one day again hold the magic of current and sensation. I am reminded of the past, of my hand facing his, of only our fingertips touching.