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Fiction

Like Two Drops of Water

By Sergi Pàmies
Translated from Catalan by Lisa M. Dillman
A drop of water takes flight into the kitchen sink in this work of microfiction by Sergi Pàmies.

At birth, the droplet has yet to learn that within two seconds she’ll smash into the kitchen sink. Hopeful, she sluices through the pipe’s final bend and peeks her head out the mouth of the tap. The glare of fluorescent lights dazzles her. She feels like that passenger on a train who, after staring at length into a long tunnel, finally emerges into the open sky. Curious, she stops at the tip of the tap. Inertia causes her to wobble and, after swaying briefly, fall into the void. For the first millimeters of this trajectory—initiated with more hope than conviction—she is overcome by vertigo. Flying stimulates her as much as going unnoticed. Indeed, her presence does nothing to alter the order of a kitchen which, despite the decorator’s attempts to have it express the style of the family using it, still overly resembles the catalog photo that served as its inspiration. Aside from the cupboards and finishes, a few details not included in the initial project prevail: the aroma of freshly-made soup and, on the fridge door, magnets of the Simpson family holding up the school menu for a child who, right at this moment, as the drop discovers the pleasure of launching herself into the void, is in the school cafeteria choking on a chicken bone. The distance between tap and sink is but a bit and a half, as is the time it will take for the wee drop to navigate it. She wastes no time: the drop filters the fluorescent lights and reflects the sphere of the clock, witnessing a new, historic crossing of its hands. Compared to back when she was part of a current, just going with the flow, the present strikes her as fascinating. At first glance it might not be noticeable, but were we to enlarge the image of the drop, were we to stop and reproduce the drop in 3-D, and give her movement (virtual movement, you understand, computer-generated, based on a large-scale sequential hypothesis), we’d detect within her the near-imperceptible beat of an emotion based, on the one hand, on the ignorance of danger implied by the fall and, on the other, on the lack of information about the environment. Tempo, for instance: one drop every so often, always the exact same so often, like a time trial in a bicycle race. Or the knowledge that a faulty tap—one that doesn’t shut off all the way or that, after slowly eroding the joint, leaks—can be life-changing and, after turning her into a drop, turn that apparently banal trajectory into a privilege. Like a frontier, the top of the sink marks the final stretch. The horizon is within reach. As she falls, the drop increases in weight, in volume and internal tension. She struggles to remain spherical. Inertia pulls taut her skin. So much so that she’d like to be made of mercury. The landscape grows dark. From a human perspective, this all happens very quickly. For the drop, on the other hand, this period of time encompasses part of old age and all of maturity. The time required to forget what she has most recently experienced and recall only her early life; to see herself in the drop that, more daring than she herself is, begins peeking out of the same tap. They are two peas in a pod, as alike as two drops of water, she realizes. And she has the impression that having seen this daughter—or sister—justifies having undertaken a journey that will end as planned: plink. The drop explodes and scatters into a thousand pieces that, indifferent to the touch of sink’s stainless steel, come together once more, not in the form of a drop but a splatter, a nothing, a measly trickle that, after skirting the hurdle of leftover sunflower oil, disappears—plop—sucked down the hole.


“Com dues gotes d’aigua”
© Sergi Pàmies. By arrangement with the author and Quaderns Crema S.A. Translation © 2022 by Lisa M. Dillman. All rights reserved.

English

At birth, the droplet has yet to learn that within two seconds she’ll smash into the kitchen sink. Hopeful, she sluices through the pipe’s final bend and peeks her head out the mouth of the tap. The glare of fluorescent lights dazzles her. She feels like that passenger on a train who, after staring at length into a long tunnel, finally emerges into the open sky. Curious, she stops at the tip of the tap. Inertia causes her to wobble and, after swaying briefly, fall into the void. For the first millimeters of this trajectory—initiated with more hope than conviction—she is overcome by vertigo. Flying stimulates her as much as going unnoticed. Indeed, her presence does nothing to alter the order of a kitchen which, despite the decorator’s attempts to have it express the style of the family using it, still overly resembles the catalog photo that served as its inspiration. Aside from the cupboards and finishes, a few details not included in the initial project prevail: the aroma of freshly-made soup and, on the fridge door, magnets of the Simpson family holding up the school menu for a child who, right at this moment, as the drop discovers the pleasure of launching herself into the void, is in the school cafeteria choking on a chicken bone. The distance between tap and sink is but a bit and a half, as is the time it will take for the wee drop to navigate it. She wastes no time: the drop filters the fluorescent lights and reflects the sphere of the clock, witnessing a new, historic crossing of its hands. Compared to back when she was part of a current, just going with the flow, the present strikes her as fascinating. At first glance it might not be noticeable, but were we to enlarge the image of the drop, were we to stop and reproduce the drop in 3-D, and give her movement (virtual movement, you understand, computer-generated, based on a large-scale sequential hypothesis), we’d detect within her the near-imperceptible beat of an emotion based, on the one hand, on the ignorance of danger implied by the fall and, on the other, on the lack of information about the environment. Tempo, for instance: one drop every so often, always the exact same so often, like a time trial in a bicycle race. Or the knowledge that a faulty tap—one that doesn’t shut off all the way or that, after slowly eroding the joint, leaks—can be life-changing and, after turning her into a drop, turn that apparently banal trajectory into a privilege. Like a frontier, the top of the sink marks the final stretch. The horizon is within reach. As she falls, the drop increases in weight, in volume and internal tension. She struggles to remain spherical. Inertia pulls taut her skin. So much so that she’d like to be made of mercury. The landscape grows dark. From a human perspective, this all happens very quickly. For the drop, on the other hand, this period of time encompasses part of old age and all of maturity. The time required to forget what she has most recently experienced and recall only her early life; to see herself in the drop that, more daring than she herself is, begins peeking out of the same tap. They are two peas in a pod, as alike as two drops of water, she realizes. And she has the impression that having seen this daughter—or sister—justifies having undertaken a journey that will end as planned: plink. The drop explodes and scatters into a thousand pieces that, indifferent to the touch of sink’s stainless steel, come together once more, not in the form of a drop but a splatter, a nothing, a measly trickle that, after skirting the hurdle of leftover sunflower oil, disappears—plop—sucked down the hole.


“Com dues gotes d’aigua”
© Sergi Pàmies. By arrangement with the author and Quaderns Crema S.A. Translation © 2022 by Lisa M. Dillman. All rights reserved.

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