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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Adult Romance  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

In 1927 American physicist Robert Oppenheimer met German physicist Charlotte Reifenstahl on a train returning from Hamburg. He became enamored, and later presented her with a suitcase she had admired. She dubbed it 'The Oppenheimer' He repeatedly sought her company until she married Fritz Houtermans, an Austrian physicist who was conscripted by the Nazies to initiate their nuclear program. Houtermans was the first to understand the processes which fuel the sun.



Hamburg Train Station, winter, 1927


I sat alone in a first passenger class compartment looking down at an unfinished book. The Hamburg seminar had been a chance to meet and measure my fellow physicists. Their personalities and ideas were playing through my mind when the aisle-way door opened. A gray stiletto heel caught my eye. It supported a graceful female ankle.

Legs, like electrons, often travel in pairs. These two limbs were long and slender. A gray skirt and azure blouse complimented the shoes. Stylishly cut blonde hair fell loosely to her shoulders. Her smile betrayed a hint of mockery. Pale blue eyes penetrated my soul. I had the feeling she was reading my mind.

“An orbital can accommodate only two electrons at one time,” she said.

She closed the compartment door and stepped toward my seat. The train lurched into motion, propelling her nearly into my lap. Her soft hair held a subtle lilac fragrance. She accepted my steadying hand without comment, her poise and momentum both conserved. Sitting so closely we touched, she glanced up waiting for my answer. My hand lingered on her graceful arm.

“I admire your grip,” she said.

A summation of the mathematics of orbital balance died on my lips. “My grip?” I asked. I released her arm.

“Your tan leather bag. Pigskin, isn’t it? So different from the cardboard suitcases the other students carry.” Blue orbs studied mine. Her scent disturbed my concentration.

My colleagues had taken third class seats. We had the compartment to ourselves. It was the first moment I’d been free from a knot of fellow physicists.

“I noticed it sitting on the platform in Hamburg,” she said.

“What?“ Her sensuality had me careening off-balance. Why would she be interested in my suitcase?

“Your grip. She took the book I held and opened it. “Andre’ Gide,” she observed. “A treatise on moral responsibilities for a quantum physicist? Do you give thought to such matters?”

I tried to keep current on a variety of subjects, but I’d been too busy chasing new theories to ponder such things.

“I … ” I stopped before my stutter betrayed me.

She leaned in closer. Her lips were inches from mine. A pert breast pressed against my arm.

“Classical quantum theory maintains that an electron cannot cross a region of high potential without receiving enough energy to clear the impediment. Do you agree?” Her eyes dared me to cross a threshold my shyness might never breach.

“Electrons may change orbits,” I said, glad to be grounded again, “but to leap to another atom requires an exchange of momentum.”

“How might two independent atoms go about exchanging momentum?” Her finely formed hand rested lightly on the leg of my charcoal suit.

“Proximity. Compelling gravitational interaction. If I had a blackboard … ”

“You’d lose what little momentum you have.” She stayed close and baited me with pouting lips.

An irresistible force drew my lips to hers. They were soft and enticing. I experienced a tremor of unheralded potential. I was drawn into an orbit I whose gravitation I couldn’t resist. Newfound momentum propelled me to encircle her slim waist in my arms. Thermal energy radiating between us boosted me past an undefined threshold. Our lips fused. When we finally disengaged, I found her pale eyes pondering mine again.

“So, the American prodigy discovers certain elemental forces.” Amusement hid in the corners of her eyes, mockery tinted her tone. Her orbit seemed undisturbed; mine wobbled uncertainly. I did not know it then, but like co-orbital electrons, our futures would spin in opposite directions along a related arc.

“Do you agree with Monsieur Gide’s hypothesis?” she asked, catching me unprepared again. Had she read his book?

“Which one?” Of course she would have an opinion on such things.

“That the most decisive actions of our life, those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future, are, more often than not, unconsidered.”

Did she want a considered answer, or decisive action? Her pale eyes continued to mock me. Her soft lips beckoned.

“What color are my eyes,” she asked, again putting me off balance.

“They were blue.” I said. The light had changed, and so had her eyes.

“And now?” Her mocking tone echoed her eyes.

“Gray.” I stared into them, unsure where her words would lead.

“Do you agree with Gide’ then?”

“That our most important actions are unconsidered?” I considered kissing her again.

“No, Gide claims that gray is the color of truth.”

This woman perplexed me. My usually quick wit wilted in her proximity. Her breast pressed against my arm. I reach to kiss her again, but she placed a delicate hand lightly on my chest, halting my momentum.

“Perhaps I can only kiss you when they are blue. Do you seek truth?”

“I seek … you.” I blurted it out without consideration.

She smiled. “Bravo, Robert, but there is no gray in that, is there? Should I suspect you of neglecting the truth?”

This time I took her in my arms and compelled her to kiss me back. Passion overcame my judgment. The train emerged from the shadows of the forest into a valley of cultivated fields. The sunlight caught her eyes and they simmered a smoky blue. We didn’t consider our actions again until we approached our station near the University of Gottingen.

“This will be complicated,” she said, her eyes fading toward gray.

“In what way,” I asked. My desire was simple and direct.

“Three cannot occupy the same orbit.” The train halted and a man in a gray suit opened the platform door. “Robert, I would like you to meet my friend Fritz.” He took her hand and she stepped gracefully onto the platform.

“Adieu,” was her parting word.

Submitted: November 13, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Dark Eyed Stranger. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Amy F. Turner

A snap shot in a possible history. He could have easily been the one recruited by the SS. So near and so far. She was clearly a woman in a mission. The interaction and conversation was as hot as they come. People say attraction starts with a kiss. I beg to differ. It begins with hot dialogue.

Sun, November 15th, 2020 2:40am


Wanna talk?

Sun, November 15th, 2020 3:22pm


(She doesn't look blonde in the picture)
I love this piece. You're one of the brightest stars on this planetary site, and I'm poised for the 'big bang'. The conversation on the train entails riddles of metaphors, the sexual innuendos of physicists. I have one question: Do physicists only date physicists? I thought it was a humorous implication on Big Bang Theory, but now I'm wondering if it's universal truth.

Regardless, I love the curious history lesson before your story. I'd certainly say it adds significant insight into this little rendezvous you've concocted. I'm particularly fond of Charlotte's assertive nature. She seems to be playing Robert for all he's worth. This is really well written, thought provoking, and intellectual. You sound like you really know your atoms.

Sun, November 29th, 2020 4:10am


Thanks DampKitten. This is my riff on a well known anecdote about Robert giving her his grip. No she wasn't blonde, but imagine Diane Kruger as she looked in Inglorious Basterds. I am not a physicist, it's just a hobby of mine. Well to my orbit.

Sun, November 29th, 2020 5:53pm

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