The Water Molecule

January 11, 2013
Written by Moe
with Bibliomaniac
The Water Molecule
Moe was just your average water molecule. He lived in a secluded pond, belonged to a clan that stayed at the bottom of the pond, played with his molecule friends, and had never been through a water cycle. Oh, he’d heard tales of it—horrible stories of being whisked away into the sky, raining down in the ocean, and swallowed alive by strange beasts that roamed the sea. No, he didn’t want to be evaporated. Moe was just the average water molecule.
One day, he was chasing Ian the iron molecule around in a game of tag, when the temperature suddenly spiked. Moe seemed to be able to move faster and his atoms started to vibrate! What’s going on? Moe thought, when zap, all of the water molecules disappeared, Ian with them. Mysterious lilting voices swirled around him, molecules he’d never seen before. And then he knew. He’d been evaporated. So those molecules must be air molecules! Moe felt a strange force pulling him up, up, and farther up—he rammed into another molecule right above him.
“Ah, there you are!” it said. “I’ve been waiting for a while, friend.”
“What? Who – who are you?” Moe stammered.
“Well, you mean aside from being your droplet mate? No one in particular.”
“Droplet mate? You’re a water molecule, too? You – you’re zipping around too fast to be!”
“Hmm, you’re new. Well, friend, how fast are you moving?”
“I…” Moe looked around him and felt his heart stop—well, his electrons froze for a millisecond. He and the other molecule were flying at speeds he had never known before… yet Moe didn’t feel like he was going that fast.
“We are in gas state,” the molecule explained. “This fast is normal. Actually, if you slow down, you turn back into liquid state. I probably should tell you how this works, shouldn’t I? Oh, right. My name is Joe.”
“I’m Moe. Please, go on.”
“Absolutely, Moe. So, right now we are floating around in the sky, and we group up with other evaporated molecules—droplet mates. Soon we get big enough, and we plummet out of the sky together, landing on what ever is under us.”
“Like… in the ocean?” Moe thought of the tales, the beasts of the great deep—!
“Of course! That’s probably where we’re going, in fact.” Joe grinned. “It’s also where I happen to come from.”
“And where you should have stayed!” interrupted a scornful voice. “Water molecules have no business in the sky! You are simply not worthy enough.”
Moe spun around and came atom to atom with a strange type of molecule. She moved so fast that she seemed to blur and flicker, and she was almost transparent. He gasped.
“Yes, oxygen molecules are amazing, I know. Water molecules aren’t; I know that, too,” she snickered. “We are the most important molecule in the world.”
“Doe,” Joe said, “I don’t want to get into this right now. I can see a cloud forming way over there, so can you let us pass?”
“Oh, gladly. Join your little simpleminded friends to rain down into the ocean.” Doe flitted off, laughing.
Joe sighed. “Sorry about that. Since this is your first water cycle, I wanted it to be uninterrupted.” Moe and Joe started towards the cloud. “Doe can be quite… well, vocal.”
“What was she talking about? I, uh, have never really met an oxygen molecule before.”
“It’s foolishness, really, and best to stay out of. A while ago a water molecule and an oxygen molecule got in a huge argument about which one of them was more important. They went back and forth for days, and there are still groups of oxygen and water molecules quarrelling about it. As of right now, oxygen groups don’t want water molecules in the sky, and water groups are protesting. Some water molecules have been proclaiming dire warnings that the oxygen molecules will regret it.” Joe grimaced. “So oxygen and water molecules are not friends.”
“And let me guess; Doe is one of the leaders?” Moe said.
“No way. How can you tell?” Joe shook his head. “She’s just been harassing all the water molecules within hearing distance. But enough of that; this cloud is looking big and heavy.”
“Is that a good thing?” Moe asked.
“Yeah, if you want to rain soon. Have you heard of condensation? That is going to happen.”
Then Moe saw that the cloud was made of hundreds, if not thousands, of water molecules floating around. Every so often, he would see more water molecules streaking towards the cloud to join it. Like we are, Moe realized. As they reached the cloud, Joe and Moe slowed down, and the temperature seemed to drop a little.
“Here’s where you find your droplet mates,” Joe said, leading Moe over to a large group of water molecules. Moe suddenly felt odd. It was like everything went silent and stopped moving.
Joe smiled. “We just joined the droplet. It feels different, doesn’t it? We’ll rain soon.”
“How do you—” Moe started to say, but then they were in free fall. So this is what it is like, he thought in awe. How it really is! “This is amazing!” Moe cried to no on in particular.
He landed with barely a ripple. I’m in the ocean. I’m in the ocean. I’m in the ocean! He looked around with joy… and there’s the beast.
It was worse than he had imagined. It opened what could only be its mouth, and Moe could feel a cool current sucking him towards it.
“Help! Joe! Somebody—I – I’m getting swallowed!” The stories were right. This is a horrible experience!
“Don’t worry, Moe. I’m coming with you,” reassured Joe.
Joe and Moe were gulped up by the fish… and then swooshed out of its gills.
“Wha – what happened?” Moe gasped.
“You were, ah, ‘breathed’ by a fish. It is an animal that seems to swallow us, but is really getting oxygen from among us.” Joe smiled kindly. “I take it you don’t have fish where you come from?”
“N – no. I was told they were beasts…” Moe paused. “Did you say oxygen molecules are underwater, too?”
“Yes. Not all of them are involved in the argument. If no oxygen molecules stay here, all of the fish could die. Now, do you want me to show you around?”
“Well… do you think we could get evaporated again? I – I rather liked the feeling of raining,” Moe said tentatively.
“Sure. If you want to, I can show you a sunny spot. But I will warn you that we’ll probably meet Doe again. She and her friends have been monitoring sunny areas.”
“That’s ok; it’s just too bad they are fighting.”
“Yeah,” Joe said. “I’m glad you think so. Let’s go.”
Joe and Moe were evaporated in the sunlight, and as Joe predicted, Doe hounded them.
“Back so soon?” she said. “I thought you would be smart enough not to. But of course, that’s to be expected of unimportant molecules.”
Moe kept on rising, trying to ignore her.
“Ooh, a silent one. Not to worry, no one really needs you as much as they need me. There’s no need to talk.” She flew over to another evaporated water molecule.
“I’d watch what you say, Doe,” the water molecule warned.
“Ha! Like you can do anything to me! You need us to live, Zoe,” Doe retorted.
“Yeah, right. In your empty dreams!” Zoe sputtered.
“Ah, but yes, you do.” She smiled condescendingly. “You are made from us. H2O; two molecules hydrogen, one oxygen. I don’t need anyone.”
“Well, then hydrogen makes us extraordinary. Can you weaklings change state easily? We water molecules can be solid, liquid, and gas easily. You? Not so much,” Zoe challenged.
Moe shook his head. This was ridiculous. Seriously? Fighting over who was the best could never be solved.
“And what use would we be if we changed state? Animals and humans, especially humans, need oxygen to live—to breathe. They can live without water for days. Without us, they can only last a few minutes. We’re obviously more valuable,” Doe sneered.
“So, then, why do you have a much shorter life span? I, for one, have been here since George Washington was born. Can you beat that?” Zoe shot back.
“Well, I sure …” As Moe and Joe zoomed straight up, the indignant voices faded.
“Yikes, Joe, that’s crazy!”
“Yeah. It’s getting worse.”

Later, they found a cloud and rained back down in the ocean. Joe showed Moe around, and Moe made many friends. He enjoyed the ocean, and before he knew it, he had been there for three moons and many tides.
“Hey Joe, do you know if we could find the pond I used to live in? I’d like to tell everyone what happened to me. There are so many water molecules there who were as scared of the water cycle as I was,” Moe said one afternoon.
“Sure, I don’t see why not. Say, why don’t we set out right now? It is pretty hot out.”
So they were evaporated, and strangely neither Doe nor her friends were there to laugh at them. It seems quiet without the fighting, Moe thought.
“Hey, Moe—do you think this was the island your pond was on?” called Joe a little later.
“I think so! It’s kind of small, and has a pond over there to the left!”
The two drew nearer, and Moe spotted a weird haze over the island that he had never seen before. It was gray and spreading rapidly.
“Um, Joe? What’s that?” Moe asked, pausing in the sky.
“Smoke,” muttered Joe grimly. “Something is burning.”
“You mean fire? Didn’t you once say it needs oxygen to burn?” Moe felt his atoms chill and almost fell out of the sky.
“Joe... where is Doe?”

Fire! She floated above the flickering waves of heat. Fire. I’ve never been this close before. It is so beautiful... I’ll just get a tiny bit closer. Just to see it. Why should I not get close? It is... lovely. Fiery. She giggled. Just to look at. So bright.

“And then she’ll cease to exist?!” Moe cried incredulously. “You can’t mean...!”
“The only thing is to put out the fire! Doe probably doesn’t know what will happen, and oxygen molecules are drawn to fire. They can’t help it!” Joe said.
“Then we’ll put out the fire. I’ll find water molecules.” Moe gathered his courage, and streaked off.
No one he asked wanted to put out a fire. It was too dangerous, they said, and may heat them up until they could no longer become liquid again. They didn’t want to risk it. Everyone who is arguing with the oxygen molecules won’t do any thing, he realized, stunned. And that’s practically everybody! Then he abruptly changed direction.
And headed towards the pond.

She drew nearer and nearer. So many new strangers, her muddled mind murmured. I don’t remember this many carbon dioxide molecules before... ah, maybe because fuel and oxygen keeps this fire burning, turning into that wonderful light and carbon dioxide. Ooh, the fire is just so—Her senses flooded, and heat seared through her. Oxygen molecules... turn into carbon dioxide! She whirled around in terror to flee—but was sucked back down.
She was trapped.

“Okay! All we need to do is group together above the fire! Don’t worry! It is harmless!” Moe was everywhere at once, organizing the newly formed troops from the pond. “My friend is down there. We need to help!”
The pond water molecules gathered and hurried to join together in droplets. Oh, Doe! Moe thought. Where are you?
Moe plummeted with his droplet, scanning the fire. There! Doe was right there! Moe swerved in her direction. He grabbed on to Doe. Please work, please work, he thought. Then, as he’d hoped, the heat caused him to evaporate and gravity seemed to flip. He struggled to float upward with Doe. Moe had cooled her down some, but she was still scorching hot and in a daze.
“Help! I might drop her!” Moe cried frantically.
“I’ve got her, Moe!” Joe shouted over the crackle of the fire. He latched on to Doe and strained toward the sky. Together, they finally emerged from the smoke and danger zone.
“Doe! Doe, are you okay?” Moe asked.
“Wha – what happened?” Doe groaned, coming to. She gasped. “The fire! You... saved me? And after all I have done to you to make you miserable?”
“Doe! Of course we would!” exclaimed Moe, appalled.
“You are a molecule after all. We wouldn’t leave you to... um, you know!” Joe added.
“Honestly?” Doe asked tentatively.
“Yes!” They were adamant.
“Then... could you please forgive me for being so cruel towards you two? I – I would like to have molecules like you as my friends.”
“I – I forgive you.”

Doe and Joe have been my friends for years. We stick for each other and watch out for one another. Over time, the dispute aver who was the best molecule was ended, largely because Doe gave moving speeches about the fact that we all need each other. She had thought that she didn’t need anyone, but finally realized that she actually did. No one was the most important molecule. Since then, the waters and the air have been peaceful. At last.
I am Moe, the Water Molecule.

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