The Physics of Touch

A short story

Sarah Book
May 11, 2019 · 5 min read
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Nothing exists in a vacuum; nothing happens without consequence.

Touch the world gently and the world will touch you gently in return.

The opposite also applies.

He couldn’t believe his luck.

Not even midnight and he’d already had a snog.

That chick in the silver, she’d just kissed him. Right out of the blue. She’d been walking past, they’d made eye contact, and she’d just turned around and kissed him. A proper kiss, like.

He couldn’t believe his luck. He was the first out of his group of mates to score, really. Billy groping that fat chick didn’t count, cuz he’d been absolutely paralytic drunk. It was so funny. That chick really thought she’d got herself a boyfriend. Till Billy had chundered all over her. Like, literally all over her. She’d been lucky to extract her tongue from his face before he’d heaved the technicolor rainbow. Chunks and all. Funny as fuck.

And then SilverChick had kissed him. Right in front of everyone, too, luckily. His mates were like, “who’s that chick?” and he was like “dunno never seen her before” and they’re like “no way dude”!

And for a while he was the fucking hero, cuz who does that, really?

And it got him pumped, and his mates too.

And they fed off each other. The story grew bigger and wilder in parallel with the night.

It grew from a quick kiss in the dark, to a good grope, to a stinky fingering, to…well, you know what boys are like. Boys will be boys, after all.

He got to wondering. Who had kissed who, exactly?

He recalled something his high school physics teacher had told him, just a few years ago now; that Newton’s third law, you know the one -

“for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

- actually translated to something more like

‘you can’t touch without being touched’.

He remembered the class, how one of the girls, Fiona Donaldson, had been arguing with the teacher, Mr Black. She said she didn’t get it.

No one got it, really, but most of them were happy to just accept the information, the way they accepted most of the bullshit they were fed at school. Passively, with a side serve of ‘when are we ever gonna need to know this anyway?’.

But this one girl had argued that inert things weren’t actually reacting. Like when you pushed on the wall, it didn’t push back. It just…kinda stood there. Reacting implied an action, right?

And she’d got up and pushed on the wall, to prove a point.

What point, exactly, he didn’t know.

Hey, at least it had provided a welcome distraction from the dry abstraction that was every physics lesson he could recall. Not that he could recall much of anything. Not his thing, all that science shit.

But then Mr Black had said that thing about it translating to ‘you can’t touch without being touched’. And it was like a lightning bolt. He got it. It made sense, in a way that physics never had before. He wondered, briefly, how much else got lost in translation? If changing the words slightly could alter the meaning so much, what else was he missing out on, just on account of the language he spoke? Or maybe it wasn’t really altering the meaning at all, but changing the ability to connect with the way his brain worked. Or the stuff already in his brain. He’d kinda heard some of the bible was like that, the choice of words in translation affecting differing interpretations through the ages…and then he was lost in another tangent of teenage thought.

But that one phrase had implanted itself so cleverly into his brain, that it fired up a whole network of neurons now. Here, of all places, at this festival, on New Year’s Eve. There he was right back in high school physics class.

He was snapped back to the present by a bear-hug from behind.

“Benjo! Howthefuckareya maaaate?”

It was Sandro, his best mate from school.

“Sandro! Wherethefuckhaveyabeen maaaaate?”

Ben told Sandro all about his conquest. The boys all chipped in with made-up details. It made him look really good. Like the stud he never was in high school.

Until Sandro pipes up “you mean that chick in the silver sparkly long coat thing, with the matching cowboy hat?”.

“Yeah, you saw her?”

“Saw her? Yeah, can’t hardly miss her mate. Fucking awesome outfit. I asked her if she had any pingers, you know. Thought I could score, she looked like she’d have to have some kind of drugs on her anyway. Till I got a good look at her. Mate, that chick is old! Like, old enough to be your mum. Hey, maybe it was yer mum.”

The boys all fall about laughing.

“Fuck you Sandro.”

His mates all gave him a good-natured ribbing about it, naturally;

“ going the cougar route mate?

…or is that cougar…root! That’s what you get for pashing randoms, Benjo”.

Fucking funny bastards.

Anyway, Ben knew they were just jealous, really.

He hadn’t realised she was so much older at first. Like Sandro said, she was all dolled up in that silver sequinned cloak, with matching hat, sparkly boots even. Exactly like no-one’s mother ever.

And he’d gone in for the kiss. Why not, right? It was New Year’s Eve, you could kinda get away with that kind of thing at a festival. People were getting pretty loose. The sun had gone down and the inebriation levels had gone up. All the pingers were out and about. He’d also assumed she was one of them, up for a bit of free loving.

But when she’d pulled back from the kiss, the kiss that was lingering in his memory, he’d noticed the deep laugh lines around her eyes.

Wait, had she been laughing at him?

He gets drunk.

He gets all young-man bravado and chutzpah and arrogance and testosterone.

Sandro slips him a sneaky pill.

Biochemistry happens.

Synapses sizzle.

Then they’re dancing in the crowd, jostling bodies, rubbing. He can’t help it, the friction, the touching. It’s just what happens in the mosh.

Isn’t it?

He targets some innocent young girl in the swarm of sweaty, dancing bodies.

After all, it’s New Year’s Eve, and anything goes, right?


There’s a word for it: frottage. Not that he knows this word.


Not that he cares about words, or actions, or tomorrow, or this girl, or the SilverChick, or consequences, or anything at all really, except this moment.


Written Tales

Helping writers and readers connect! We promote all forms of creative writing and cherish the freedom of speech, therefore we do not censor our writers. Come join us today and prepare for entertainment.

Sarah Book

Written by

Reader, wanna-be writer, traveller, adventurer. Eclectic collector of pretty words and experiences.

Written Tales

Helping writers and readers connect! We promote all forms of creative writing and cherish the freedom of speech, therefore we do not censor our writers. Come join us today and prepare for entertainment.

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