ATOMIC BONDING • by Izzy Steel

We lie shoulder-to-shoulder in the grass, almost touching. The distance between us is atomic.

“Do you think we’ll ever go to space?” Jemima says, watching the sky. “Us specifically? Like, as a species, are we heading towards everyone going to space within our lifetime?”

“I don’t know.” I gaze at her, make constellations out of her freckles. “What do you think?”

“I hope not,” she says. “I hope we figure out how to save the planet we’ve got.”

“Yeah.”

“I wish I could do more,” she says. “There’s only so much veganism and anti-government tweets can do, you know? I wish I could start the revolution myself.”

I love you, I think, but the words catch somewhere in my chest, impale themselves on my ribs, clog up the ventricles of my heart. One of these days they’ll kill me, and someone will cut me open and find every unuttered I love you in the cavity of my chest.

“I’ll start it with you,” I say. “I’m great at revolutions.”

Jemima laughs, and I can feel her shaking. And then she grabs my hand, hot and tight. “Good,” she said. “I’ll do the yelling on soapboxes; you can make the propaganda posters.”

I can hardly breathe for how much I love her. The truth is, I don’t care about the alleged revolution. It’s hard to imagine the future, to imagine anything other than tonight. The canvas roof of the night sky, her hand inexplicably in mine. But I’ll make a thousand propaganda posters if that’s what she wants.

“Anything in particular, or just a general viva la revolución spirit?”

She finally tears her gaze away from the stars, looks at me. “Do you ever worry the world’s going to straight-up end before we get to live our whole lives? Or that there’ll be, like, an actual revolution and everything will be terrible?”

“Sometimes,” I say. “What if that happens, and I don’t get to see you anymore?”

“That would suck.” And then she closes the gap between us.

When she kisses me, it feels like space travel. It feels like saving the world. It feels like the revolution.


Izzy Steel is a writer from the UK who has previously been published by Every Day Fiction.


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