Work and Energy by Jules Mills
Part 2 - In the Real World, work is rarely done where friction is not
present; hence, frictional force should be considered in the equation for work.
Grace felt the headache before she even had a chance to open her eyes. Sun was streaming in between the slats of the blinds, and she could smell banana bread baking and hear the gentle rustle of newspaper pages being turned in the other room. The classic jazz of John Coltrane was playing lightly throughout the house. Ugh!...after such a wonderful night she had to have the most horrible hangover of her life, even worse than graduation night. She thought about all of the booze she had consumed and her stomach did a flip-flop. She scrambled for the bathroom, making it to the sink just in time to expel the bilious contents of her stomach. Dana, hearing the commotion, put down her paper and wandered over to see just how hung over Grace was.
"What's the matter, hunh? Feeling a little queasy?"
"Ugh!" Grace groaned as she rinsed the sink with Comet.
"How about a little hair of the squirrel that bit you?" Dana asked, slapping her miserable love on the rump. Grace jumped at the impact and then moaned her way from the bathroom back to the bed.
"You'd make a terrible doctor, Dana."
The nano tech laughed at her.
"What time is it?" Grace asked as she lay back down. Her head felt like a size-twelve foot in a size-seven shoe.
"Eleven o'clock," Dana relayed, stretching out next to her and kneading Grace's neck. "You should drink some water to get that sweet stuff out of your blood. The sugar high has to be worse than the alcohol."
"I need more sleep is all," the sickly doctor said, hugging her pillow to her stomach.
Dana leaned over and kissed her cheek. "I'm going to run out to the market then."
Grace pathetically grunted her approval.
When Dana returned from the store with her groceries and the special gift for Grace, her partner was awake and moving about, tidying the small cottage. Dana shoved the small box into the back pocket of her baggy blue jeans and carried the three sacks of food to the kitchen.
Grace was folding laundry in the bedroom. The clothes would stay in piles until Dana put them away, but Dana knew her lover's limits. Besides, they were put in the right place when she did it herself.
"So, what did you buy us for dinner?" the blonde asked, having wandered into the kitchen when she heard Dana come into the house. She began to rummage through the paper bags of food. "Oh, asparagus. Now that's a surprise," she said sarcastically, holding up a bundle of green spears. "What else? Hmmm...pudding--low-fat--good girl...peppers--yum...vidalia onions...."
"I didn't know you knew what raw vegetables looked like, Grace," Dana teased.
"I had a picture book as a kid."
Dana smiled and reached into the fridge, pulled out two bottles of spring water, and handed one to her lover. She tilted her dark head back and took a long drink, emptying the bottle.
"You know, Dana," Grace began, looking at the asparagus in her hand, "I think that your asparagus fetish is really an emanation of your latent heterosexuality."
"Ha! Who's the latent heterosexual, Grace? I'm not the one who was making goo-goo eyes at big Buck last night."
"Batting your eyes and smiling at him." Dana looked at her lover and exaggeratedly imitated the look.
"You mean like this?" Grace said, smiling demurely and batting her reddish-blond eyelashes.
Dana's heart and lungs froze, and a moment later her heart began to melt, dripping down into her belly. "Yes, that's the one," she answered stoically and turned away from her friend toward the sink, having completely forgotten what she had planned to do.
Grace chuckled at the enormity of the power of her wiles.
"You'll never guess who I ran into at the store," Dana said after she remembered she had intended to clean the vegetables.
"My mother," Gra ce teased.
"I doubt I would have lived to tell about it," Dana said as she started the tap water. "Your old flame."
"Which one?" Grace asked absently, reading the label of a box of new cereal.
Dana turned and stared at her a moment.
"What?" Green eyes stared back pleading innocence.
She shook her dark mane. "The one that's always trying to beat me up."
"Which one?" Grace repeated.
"The bitchy cop one."
"You saw Beth?" Grace looked up, curious. "Wonder why she's in town. Did you talk to her? How is she?"
"I don't know, no, and I don't care," Dana replied with a chuckle.
"Did she see you?"
"You know, she spent a long time in the melon section."
"Dana, did she say anything to you?"
"Nope. But she sort of stared at me and followed me around for a while."
"I think you should be careful if you go out alone and when you run--just for a while."
"I'll take you with me everywhere," the doctor said melodramatically.
"I'm not going running with you. You can take Rip for that."
"That's because you're out of shape and can't keep up, kind of like last night."
"I don't think Beth would ever hurt me anyway, Dana."
"You have to be kidding, Grace."
"No, I'm not."
Dana sighed. "Still, I would appreciate--"
"--My brother called while you were out," Grace said to change the subject.
"Oh, God, I don't want to know."
"But he has such fond things to say about you, Dana."
"Yeah, right," she replied and slipped into her best Colonel Sanders voice. "That thar Greco gal can't 'preciate mah big ole dooly, mah assault rifle, or mah charmin' sense o' humor. Ah can't stand that Na-da Papasfritas, heh-heh-heh." Dana came over and took the cereal box away when Grace began to dig for the toy prize. "I can't stand the son-of-a-bitch." She put the box on the top shelf of the cupboard.
"He's coming to a writers' workshop at Yale."
Dana dropped a glass jar of tomato sauce on the floor. It shattered and splattered red sauce all over the floor and her legs. "Ah, shit!" she said, realizing what she had done, and began to clean up the mess.
"He wants to stay with us."
"It sounds like a good time for me to do a little fishing. When is he coming?"
Dana looked up at her lover and sighed. "I can't leave next week. We have protocol to set up, and manufacturing. You know that."
"I'm not suggesting you do."
"Okay, I'll call Rachel and see if she can take me for a couple of nights. She should be able to as long as that Fed isn't lurking around." Dana took a clean rag from the drawer and began to wipe at her pants legs and feet.
"Dana, this is your house too."
"I'm not staying here with him," she said with a seriousness Grace had not seen in a long time. Usually all Grace had to do was bat her eyes and her wishes were Dana's. Bat, bat.
"No!" Dana went to the bedroom to change her pants and wash the stains off her clothes.
"Don't make me choose," Grace said, following her to the bedroom, where the stackable washer was kept in the closet. She caught Dana in her underwear, pulling a small box out of the pocket of her splattered jeans.
"I'm not making you choose, Grace. I'll spend some time at Rachel's while you bond with Dick-uh." She added soap to the tub and then put the lid down on the washer..
"What's that?" Grace asked about the small box Dana was palming.
"That box. What is it?"
Dana looked around and shrugged. Grace stepped closer.
"That box in your left hand."
Dana pulled a pair of clean jeans off the shelf in the closet. After sliding the attic hatch open, she stuck the box into the rafters, where Grace could not reach. "What box is that, Grace?"
Grace wrapped her arms around Dana's nearly naked waist and swung her to the bed, then climbed on top of her and the sexy-smelling sheets and began to poke her chest.
"Ouch!" Dana said as the pokes grew harder, so hard they were almost beyond tickle. One caught her just above the collar bone. She suddenly gasped and grabbed at her throat, her neck tensing and straining, and she sucked in air in rasps.
"Oh, my God!" Grace said, suddenly palpating her lover's neck to find the damage. In a panic she climbed off. While the color drained from Dana's face, she tried to find out what had gone wrong, praying to God she had not crushed her windpipe. She felt around Dana's neck for some sign of a broken artery. Dana's hands began to shake, and her eyes rolled to the back of her head. Grace reached for the telephone next to the bed and started to call 911. Just as she was hitting the second "1," Dana grabbed her from behind, causing her to scream. She smacked Dana in the arm with the phone and began to curse her. Dana laughed so hard she thought her sides would bust. Grace was so angry she stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind her. It gave Dana a chance to hide the box a little better.
Dana was sitting on the deck, playing the guitar softly and watching Rip chase the sea gulls on the beach while she waited for Grace to return from her huff. The doctor had been gone five hours. When Dana heard the familiar putter of the Jeep's engine, she fought the urge to run around to the front of the house and apologize profusely. She was even considering offering to stay around while Dick was visiting. Instead, she restrained herself and strummed "Brown-Eyed Girl."
She listened to the front door open. The familiar footfalls of Grace's cute waddle echoed from the house, and keys were tossed on the counter, sliding against the cookie jar with a clink. The waiting guitarist moved into an old Jewel song, one of Grace's favorites. She began to sing the first verse of the slow, scaling tune when the back screen door opened. Oh, yes, come to me, Grace, she thought, feeling quite the siren. Grace sat across the deck from her, small hands shoved into her sweatshirt pockets. The doctor sat quietly while Dana finished the song. When finished, the nano tech slid off the railing, placed her guitar in its case, and sat squarely facing her lover on the opposite bench.
"I'm really mad at you," the blonde said.
"I know. I thought about coming after you."
"I thought I might have killed you."
"Come on, Grace. I was doing an old chick-flick scene."
"But the way your face went pale...."
Dana hesitated a moment, then moved over to Grace's bench. "I'm sorry, Baby," she said sincerely.
Uh-oh. Dana could see what was coming next.
"Sorry enough to--"
"--No!" Dana interrupted.
"How do you know what I was going to ask?"
"I'm not so much as sharing the air that your brother breathes, Grace," Dana said, getting up to lock her guitar case down.
"Then there's only one alternative," the blonde said.
"You'll tell him he can't stay?"
"No. You give me what's in that little box you hid in the attic."
Dana gritted her teeth, having been outsmarted by the administrator yet again. She picked up the black leather Guild case by the handle and carried it into the house. Grace could hear the sound of pots and pans clanking and cabinets slamming shut. Two minutes later--no less, no more--Dana returned and sat next to her lover, holding out the little brown jewelry box. "Here," she said.
"You aren't going to get down on your knees?"
"It's not a ring, Grace. Good God."
"What is it?"
"Just open it."
She took the box from the larger hand and opened it. Inside was a small gold caduceus with diamonds for snake eyes and a larger one on top of the golden pole that the snakes wrapped around.
"It's to mark your accomplishment," Dana explained. "For making the program a success. It goes on your rope," she added, touching the gold chain around the perfect neck.
"Dana, it's beautiful."
"Yeah, well, I figured that if I got you this, you might forgo the milestone tattoo this time, and maybe I'd get my name there instead."
Grace smiled. "But I didn't do--"
"--Yes, you did, Grace." Dana unlatched the necklace for herand slipped the pendant on it.
"You deserve it more than I."
"Grace, don't argue with me about this."
The overwhelmed woman did not argue. Instead, she took her lover's hand and led her toward the house. "You want to show me exactly where you would like your name, Dana Papadopolis?"
"Mm-hmm. And that's Papadopolis with
three 'p's and two 'o's?"
© April 1999 by Jules Mills