Surface Tension

The roads have changed, the houses of Helen’s childhood gone, and she is always shocked when she visits to come this way, to see the great walls of roadway where the little dark houses used to be. She turns the car into North Street, pointing straight at the sea.

In ‘Surface Tension’, two long-ago lovers reunite, reminisce, recoil.

He is looking at her, fraternal, all notion of sex gone, a mild smile across his face, as if amused to remember that he and Helen, that the two of them, that he and the middle-aged woman, that they ever were.


This quality of the unexpected, grounded in everyday life, runs through much of the third volume of The Best New Zealand Fiction…The stories are neither blindingly obvious, nor so desperate to avoid the label of ‘realist’ that they obscure meaning; rather they have the subtle ring of truth about them, a kind of modern street wariness. I see these qualities particularly in Tracy Farr’s luminous portrayal of two lovers’ reunion, ‘Surface Tension’
Fiona Kidman, Introduction, The Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 3



‘Surface Tension’ was included in The Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 3 (Vintage, 2006), edited by Fiona Kidman

‘Surface Tension’ was first published in Australian literary journal Westerly (Volume 49, 2004)

‘Surface Tension’ is available online in the Westerly Digital Archive