The Physics of Friendship

Fiction by Trevor Barton

They looked out the window of the bus together, side by side, cheek to cheek.
The heat and humidity of the Brownsville morning and the air conditioning on the bus caused the windows to fog.

Hilcias pulled his sleeve over his hand and used it as a window wiper, moving it back and forth until he and Taki could see clearly the Gulf of Mexico along the coastal road.

People began to stir and stretch and reach for their bags above, below and around them, but Hilcias and Taki stayed as still and quiet as the leaves on the trees that lined the street beside the bus station.

Do you know there are five foundational forces in the universe?

They hold everything together.

They bring order out of chaos.

Four of them can be explained by physics - the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force, the weak force and the strong force.

The gravitational force keeps planets in orbit around their suns and our feet planted firmly on the earth.

The electromagnetic force is in the mighty power of lightning and the gentle touch of the human hand.

The weak force creates nuclear energy and makes stars shine.

The strong force holds protons and neutrons inside of atoms.

The fifth foundational force can’t be explained by physics, though.

It can only be explained by friendship.

It is love.

Taki and Hilcias stepped off of the Greyhound bus into the early morning sunlight.

“Where should we go?” asked Taki.

She looked at the horizon between the Gulf of Mexico and the Brownsville sky.

She was very still and very quiet.

Hilcias looked at the horizon, too.

“I guess we should go to the water,” she said.

They reached for each other’s hands.

They walked together down the road toward the gulf.

This created that fifth foundational force, which is the strongest force of all, for it keeps hearts in orbit around each other and gives hope to a hopeless world.

Trevor Scott Barton is an inner city teacher, writer, whale watcher and freedom fighter in Greenville, SC. This small story looks and listens for beauty in the plain, genius in the simple, wonder in the ordinary and courage in the human.

Published 29th March, 2023.

. H O L D E R . R E W A R D S .