By Shane Halbach
2,211 words · 9-minute reading time
After the sharp pop of resistor discharge, Alexander flung open the chamber door. Maria stood, head down, her straight black hair hanging over her face, bracing her arm on the wall.
"Maria! Oh, thank God you're okay! I'm sorry, something went wrong and it took me a few minutes...here, sit down."
He moved to help her, to comfort her. When his arm slid around her back, she stiffened and pulled away. She ignored his hand and stepped out onto the lab floor.
"The machine didn't track you like it was supposed to. I had to do it manually, took me an extra ten minutes." Now that he could see her clearly, her face looked different somehow. Thinner. Tired, maybe. "Was it...difficult?"
She turned and slapped him hard across the face.
It was so unexpected, that Alexander didn't even have time to flinch. It knocked the breath out of him in a sharp huff.
"You absolute asshole," said Maria, tears spilling down her cheek. "After all this time, you should have just left me."
"Relativity" refers to...
Sign up to read the rest of this story. You'll never be charged unless you choose to be, but we'll keep your payment info securely stored for when you find a story you love.
Shane Halbach lives in Chicago, where he writes software by day and avoids writing stories by night. His fiction has appeared in Analog, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction, among others. He blogs at shanehalbach.com, or can be found on Twitter @shanehalbach.
This story originally appeared in Analog.