The Shimmer

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Mommy and Daddy say it is a trick of light. But I know it’s not. All the lights are off and I can still feel the shimmer. It’s very soft, though. But I can hear the ringing…if I pay attention.
“Honey, why are all the lights off?” Dr. Maurice Willis asked her five year old daughter, Ada who was sitting cross-legged on the floor.
“Mommy, come look!” Ada said.
“Look!” Ada dragged her to the center of the room. “Look! Look straight ahead!”
“What am I supposed to be looking at, love?” Dr. Willis asked, with a resigned sigh.
“Just out of the corner of your eye! Can’t you see it? No, don’t turn your head. It has to be the corner of your eye! See? Something’s moving. You can see it moving. No! Don’t turn your head!”
Dr. Willis shook her head. She was about to say something but her phone rang. She raised a finger motioning her daughter to be quiet and left the room.
“The thing about multiple dimensions is that they are pretty hard to visualize. As an example, consider a piece of paper, with a square drawn on it. If I ask you to move the square around, you can only take it forwards or backwards or sideways. You can’t lift it up. So if the square was alive, it would have no clue that such a thing as up exists! Come on try it.” Ada waited as the seventh graders drew squares on their sheets and convinced themselves. “All of us, on this planet are like those tiny little squares. We know about forwards and backwards and upwards and we can move in these dimensions but we can’t visually grasp the concept of higher dimensions. And you’d be surprised to know, that one of them,” she paused for effect, “is time.”
“But the psychics can move in time.” A voice at the back said. “I read on the internet that they have a deeper cog- cognitive perception than normal human beings. So maybe their minds can tap into the time stream-”
She smiled. She enjoyed talking to children. Their minds were so much more open.
“No, no, no. It’s true. She told me the name of my first pet! She’s for real. A proper psychic.”
Ada watched with an amused expression as a teenaged girl pulled her friend inside a rather ornately decorated store. Madame Brianne. It said. Know your destiny.
Seers. Psychics. Frauds. But a delightful distraction, I think. As if anyone could look into the past.
She walked to the display window. A jewel-encrusted crystal ball sat at the center, surrounded by small, grey gargoyles. She bent to have a closer look. As she examined their ferocious, beautifully carved faces, she felt something move behind her. Startled, she turned around. The street was oddly deserted.
Maybe tomorrow, I’ll visit Madame Brianne, just for kicks.
Flickering. Fluttering. Moving. Always moving. Just out of sight. If I sit still, I can see it. Feel the gentle reverberations as it shimmers. Just out of the corner of my eye. Just out of reach.
She woke up as her head hit the table. Snoozing while on work now. She arranged the papers she was marking, trying to shake off the dream. She was picking up her pen when she saw it. Or thought she saw it. A slight movement out of the corner of her eye. She swiveled in her chair but there was nothing. This wasn’t the first time this had happened. In fact, it felt like these hallucinations were happening more often than usual. The physicist in her scoffed at the absurdity of her own thoughts.
You’re too old for these ponderings, Ada. There aren’t any secret portals, alien life forms, fantastical lands. Seriously get back to work.
But the thought nagged her. An unpleasant itch at the back of her mind. What if, what if, what if…
“Oh, screw it!” She switched off all the lights and sat on the floor with her feet crossed. A joke. That’s how you look like right now.
Five minutes later, she was about to get up with an embarrassed smile and a mental kick when she felt it again. A shimmer. She gulped. What the-?
Her heart raced as she changed positions, this time facing the wall. And there it was again. A slight tremor. She placed her palms on the floor. Very subtle. But now that she had noticed it, it was impossible to ignore it. If she didn’t know any better she would have sworn to have heard the blood coursing through her veins; her heart beating erratically. Everything slowed. An eternity in a second.
The more she gave in to its presence, the more disengaged she felt. Her thoughts were curling in on themselves. Going in circles. Chaotic.
And then she saw.
The world was black and white, but now it’s full of color. Everything. At the same time. I can see. Time. Another dimension. Everything. Here. Now. But yesterday and tomorrow too. Now. The same. The same. A map. A flatlander who flies. Everything. I can taste the past. Hear the future. Pain. So much pain. Heartache. Beautiful. Terrifyingly beautiful.
They found her the next day collapsed on the floor muttering gibberish. They say that she cracked. She wouldn’t respond to any questions. All she would do was, draw and draw and draw. Every surface of the room where they kept her locked, was her canvas. She drew rainbows- black and white and every shade in between. She drew death, full of color.
Ten different doctors came to treat her. Everyone left defeated, unnerved. When asked why, they said that her gaze made you cry. They said staring into the eyes of Dr. Ada Willis, lunatic, artist, former physicist, was like staring into eternity.