Entanglement

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I opened up the windows to breathe in some fresh air, but what greeted me was a pair of dangling legs, twelve stories high.

‘Don’t jump,’ I shouted.

The legs went in and your pretty face appeared. ‘What makes you think I’m going to jump?’

‘You’re on the twelfth floor, what else were you trying to do?’

You brushed your long, permed hair. ‘Drying my nail polish?’

I shrugged, and was about to leave when you blurted out, ‘Hey, I heard about you. You’re that science prodigy, aren’t you? The one who recently won an international championship or something.’

‘I’m no prodigy,’ I mumbled, and closed the window. I’m just hard-working.

And you, I heard about you too. You were famous, or rather, infamous. People called you names. Chick. Hottie. Slut. Whore. ‘She’ll sleep with anyone who’s in a sports club,’ I’d been told. Well, I was certainly off your radar. The only sport I ever did was chess, though I wasn’t sure what was so sporty about it.

You lived one floor up, but we were worlds apart. And you weren’t the best neighbor. You brought boys home all the time, and they were noisy. Once, you even had the cheek to knock on my door and ask if I had a spare rubber, to which I’d answered, ‘Sorry, I don’t use them.’

‘Daredevil, aren’t you?’ you’d said with a teasing smile, before walking away.

But unlike most girls, you didn’t treat me as if I were invisible. Each time you saw me, you always smiled and said, ‘Howdy, daredevil. You look awful. Must be studying too much.’ It was annoying at first, but soon I grew fond of your strange greeting.

One morning, I caught you crying while leaning on the window’s ledge.

‘What happened?’ I asked.

‘I’m late,’ you whispered.

‘Then you better get going.’

You looked up, eyes bloodshot. ‘My period… I’m late.’

I paused. ‘How long?’

‘Two weeks.’

‘Have you tested it?’

‘I’m scared. Can we do it together?’

We went to the pharmacy and bought a pregnancy test, before returning to your flat. You performed the test, and then passed the strip to me.

‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ I asked.

‘Don’t ask me.’ You paced around. ‘You’re the smart one.’

‘You know, if you never read the result, technically it can be both positive and negative.’ I took the box to read the instructions. ‘Like Schrodinger’s cat, dead and alive at the same time.’

You rolled your eyes. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘Never mind.’ I turned the strip to you. ‘It’s negative.’

You screamed in delight and jumped into my arms, before proposing to celebrate by drinking some wine you’d gotten from one of your admirers. Before long, we got tipsy and you started to talk about your quest for love.

‘I’ve always fallen in love with the wrong guy,’ you said. ‘Maybe I’ll die before experiencing true love.’

I wanted to say it was because you always went for the same type of jerks, but I kept my opinion to myself.

‘Hey daredevil, do you believe in death?’

‘Not really. We only think of it as death because we’ve been led to think that it’s death.’

‘You know, you always say the strangest things. And what did you say earlier about the cat being both dead and alive?’

‘Schrodinger’s cat. But we know it’s not true. The cat can only be either dead or alive. Some people like to rely on the fact that being ignorant is the better option.’

‘Are you one of those?’

I sipped my wine. ‘I wonder.’

‘I don’t think you are.’ You leaned closer and kissed me. ‘I can tell that you’re the curious type.’

Things quickly heated up after that, but I didn’t mind. Just like the transit of Venus, the odds of something like this happening were once in a hundred years. You were experienced; I was in good hands. It was my first time, but I didn’t think I needed to tell you.

The next morning, we were back to being normal neighbors. But I found my eyes following you more and more often, and I craved hearing your infectious laughter. And you were right about me being the curious type.

Three months later, on that fateful afternoon, I could’ve kept studying diligently and not opened my windows when I heard a commotion outside. I could’ve chosen not to look down and get out of the building. I could’ve stayed in my room instead of pushing through the crowd. They circled a young girl who lay motionless in a pool of blood.

I could’ve walked away instead of running to your side. And then, I wouldn’t have heard you saying that strange greeting:

‘Howdy, daredevil. You look awful. Must be studying too much.’

With that, you closed your eyes and left.

A few weeks later, I sat on my bed, all alone. I pulled a shoebox from underneath the bed and placed it on my knees. Opening the lid, I took out a silver handgun.

I remembered how I’d shown it to a friend when I’d bought it.

‘Look at this,’ I’d said, brandishing the gun. ‘I bought it for my twenty-first birthday, as an ode to quantum suicide.’

‘You’re planning to try that?’

I’d laughed. ‘Course not. That’s just a thought experiment.’

And he’d laughed too, obligingly.

Holding the gun in my fist, I admired the craftsmanship.

No one ever dies, I thought. We only appear to be dead. Whenever we die, another universe opens up. A universe where we survived.

I weighed the loaded gun in my hand. It was cold heavy, exactly the way I’d been feeling since the day you’d left me.

I want to go to a universe where you’re still alive.

Pointing the gun at my forehead, I pulled the trigger. I waited for a click, but didn’t hear any. Nothing happened. It jammed.

God doesn’t play dice.