Quantum Dating

Thanks for the great words, Erin!

Use: amoebe, crystallize

If I were more inclined at the moment, I’d probably do some research, come up with something more interesting than salt. I should have just made something up. I’d also expand the crystal scene. It’s pretty unimpressive as is. Oh well. This is what happens when you’re writing after midnight.

Oh, a cookie for anyone who catches the Pinky and the Brain reference.

Quantum Dating

The silver, boxy rover rolled to a halt, front bumper gently tapping the double-paned window of Harry Webster’s bedroom window. Beyond the window, the setting sun bathed the horizon in the last reddish rays of the day. The rover’s engine rumbled for a few seconds more, then with a shudder the vehicle quieted.

Within the rover, Harry grinned and propped his feet up on the dashboard. His passenger, the lovely Susan Harris, smiled back and tucked her hair back behind her hair, a habit he adored anew every time.

The interior of the rover was as silver and utilitarian as the exterior hull, every available surface covered with switches, keypads, instrument read-outs, green-tinted monitors, and flashing lights. Harry reached under his seat and produced a bottle of wine he’d lifted from Susan’s father’s cellar. The seventeen-year-old knew nothing of wine, but he’d stolen it in a hurry anyway.

Susan watched Harry struggle with the cork on her father’s forty-year-old Chateau d’Yquem. “You’re sure the, uh…” she gestured at the elaborate machinery around them.

“Miniaturization?” Harry offered.

“I was gonna say shrinky thing. You’re sure it won’t affect the wine? What happens when we go back to normal?”

He poured them each a glass. “It’ll be fine. My dad’s really the expert, but I know it’s been years since anybody’s head exploded.” Susan nearly choked on her first swallow of wine, covering her mouth and stifling a laugh.

“So you shrink all your dates to the size of an amoeba, or just the special ones?” she asked.

Harry shook his head. “Hardly an amoeba. This is more like, I dunno, lima-bean sized.”

They quietly sipped their wine as the last rays of the evening faded and the sky deepened to a dark purple. Harry watched Susan’s face as the shadows shifted and danced across her cheeks.

“Come on,” he said suddenly. He rotated the chair toward the rear of the rover and stomped on the airlock control. The doors hissed and opened. “Bring your glass.”

Harry led her across the window sill toward a shallow glass enclosure, a small glass dish he’d set out early that day. They leapt across chasms that normally were little more than cracks, and kicked dust bunnies the size of soccer balls.

As they approached the dish, Harry set their wine and glasses to one side and told her to close her eyes.

“Here,” he said. He took her hands and helped her over the short edge of the bowl. Their feet splashed through a thin layer of water. “Just listen. You hear it?”

“I…what is that?” she breathed.

It was faint at first, a distant crack. Then another, and another. A sound like sand shifting, and more cracks and pops.

“Is that…it kind of sounds like ice breaking,” she whispered.

“It’s salt,” he said quietly. She opened her eyes and pressed her face to the glass. “I put some salt water out here earlier.” They watched through the glass as a bed of salt crystallized, hardening and forming into tall, delicate columns. More rivers of crystal arose along the bottom of the bowl and created a blocky spider-web of salt.

“We’re going to make out, aren’t we?” Susan said, more statement than question. A note of wonder still crept into her voice.

“Yeah, well, that’s the plan.”

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