Another drop could form and live and make decisions there, if the bather simply touched his wet foot to the tap. Many drops could form and fall into the uniformity below. He considered this a great luxury, for some day no more drops would play about on Earth. They would all boil off the rock and get yanked from ever-cracking soil. It would all happen when the sun goes nova. The water would jump apart in agony and fly into space.
But not all water. The bather remembered the Earth's secret caves and springs. Steam would billow up in quadrillions of leaps, hit the stalactites, and drip back down into boiling pools. Water would smash at the walls, but mostly rip itself to bits, only to reassemble as more drops, then more steam. The lakes in Earth's belly would become pleading steam engines of angst, blasting in all directions yet also nowhere. The cavern capsules would make only mud. And the bursting mist would just keep cooking as the Earth upstairs desertified.
Maybe in that time, the bather hoped, the steam might claw its way from the caverns. If it could just peel enough stone and beach the rock as the sun dies and diminishes, some of that great mist would resettle. And the drops would slow-dance again.
Then, eager to move more, and having eons of exercise, the water might form life. It will have mined everything needed for those organic molecules to nestle in once again. Maybe life would just take the ferry and go in circles. It might stay in the pools and feed back into itself forever. The boring chains and cycles may wiggle and bind, diffuse and die. Dissolve. Cannibalize its cousins. Simpleminded forever.
But much more had spawned from worse. Extremophiles had grown up from lava-laid terrains. Man had even emerged from his caves, seeking the water he needed. Filthy, beastly, eating man had eventually conquered all. Water had found more water. The bather wondered, could life again spread from the caves, foraging for even scanter fuels? Could something build itself up to race from the pools, screaming for more drops?
The bather wondered if that new sentient life could ever top humans. They would work from scarcity and recycle the bits of organic stuff left by the nova. But they'd wield much less of it than the sweets available now. Maybe in time, comets carrying more water would hit and give life a painful and pitiful boost.
Or maybe the new life would press further than man. It might work more efficiently with its precious few droplets as wastefulness dies out. The beginnings of such sentience may have arisen today, the bather mused. For the microbes abundant now, with their head start, could outpace the rawness of some scummy pool jailed in stone. Down there the parts must mingle, in the right frolicsome ways and in the right atmospheres, to get that first lunge going.
Yes, current life would win out after the nova and sip from those pools, as it had always done so well. Maybe those surviving cells would grow and amass and reach sentient status. And it would all emerge from some sealed place, safe from the sun's blaze and radioactive thunder. It would pick the right time to leave the caves.
The bather looked at his toilet tank and wondered what already lived inside.