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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chapter 1: The Encounter III

Her quiet femininity had an air of mystic attraction. She had a demeanor that looked oddly familiar but he couldn’t quite place it. He lay down on his side next to her, his head propped up on his left elbow, and began running his right hand fingers through her satiny long hair, absently looking at her curved silhouette.

“Thinking something?”

“Uhh?...No, ah, yes,” he was recalled. “You know the physicist Isaac Newton, right?”

“Don’t know him…heard of him,” she was slightly miffed that he didn’t tell the truth.

“Right, right,” he blamed himself for the semantic slip, and was a bit surprised at the tone of her response.

“What about him?” she turned her head toward him and asked softly, conscious of the nuances in her tone.

“Well,” he straightened up a bit, “Newton was a great genius, of course, with his three laws of motion and his discovery of gravity, but personally, he was also an oddball.”

“Really? How?” She turned to her side and faced him. The interest in her eyes gave him a sense of camaraderie that he hadn’t noticed. He was heartened by the prospect that they might have more things to share in common.

“Well...” he was debating if he should kill the story he had had in mind and replace it with another one not so obvious. “Newton was a famously distracted person. It was reported that when he got up in the morning, he had a habit of swinging his feet out of bed, but sometimes right in the middle of it he would amazingly be immobilized by a sudden rush of thoughts to his head, and he would remain in that position for hours, thinking of his ideas...”

“You mean all the while when his feet were out of the bed...”

“Yeah...and just hanging there for hours...”

She turned to her back and gazed at the ceiling, absorbed in her own thought. She was intrigued by the idea that someone could be this distracted. She found the behavior fascinating, and Newton lovable. She decided to read up some on the man. Maggie would love it. The thought of her daughter brought a smile on her face. “Do you have any book you can recommend on Newton? A primer, possibly?”

Her seriousness surprised him. He thought she had been thinking about the hanging feet. “I don’t know much about Newton, actually. I’ve never read his original works...I’ll get you Will Durant’s volume on Newton.”

The frown on her face alerted him. The feminine woman he had kind of taken for granted was suddenly making judgment on him. There was an unexpected threat, but at the same time, he relished the challenge.

“Will Durant has written a great work called The Story of Civilization,” he sat himself up with his back to the bedhead, lightly touching her hair, while she lay next to him. “It’s an eleven-volume work of a lifetime, covering history east and west. It’s still unfinished, though, when Durant died in his 90s.”

“What does it has to do with Newton?”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he liked her persistence. “Whenever I’m talking about Durant, I’ll get carried away. He has a volume in which he talked about Newton.”

“You mean a volume in that...ehh...Civilization something?”

“Yes. The Story of Civilization.” He was usually sharper. He didn’t know what has happened to him tonight.

“And you have the whole set?”

“Well, yes,” he said, and sensed a tone in her question he couldn’t quite make of it. “I got a free set when I bought the Encyclopedia Britannica.”

“You bought a whole set of the Encyclopedia Britannica?”

She actually began to think he was kind of a nut. She has never heard of anyone buying a whole set of the EB. These things were to be looked up in the library. That’s what the library was for, wasn’t it?

“Well, I’m sorry," she realized she sounded a bit crude. "You like books, right?”

“That’s okay. I’m a bookworm,” he began to feel sorry for the whole conversation, perhaps the whole evening.

(to be amended…)

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