By LaShawn M. Wanak
I saw you at a party once. You stood by the bookshelf, reading a tattered volume on Proust. You wore an orange and yellow XTC shirt beneath brown flannel. I bumped your elbow by accident and you looked up, your eyes startling green.
I smiled and said, “Hi. I’m Nina.”
I trailed behind you for the rest of the party. You introduced me to your friends and I laughed at their jokes. Twice, our sleeves brushed against each other.
Around two in the morning, you left with your friends. An hour later, I also left. I crossed the empty campus, humming under my breath, wondering if I’d ever see you again.
The watch on my arm beeped.
“This experiment will measure how small changes occurring before a certain event affect its outcome positively and negatively.”
The chair is her creation. She bought the frame on impulse at a medical supply shop. The conical helmet, perforated with slender tubes, fits on top. Whenever she maneuvers her head beneath it, she thinks of the hair dryers at her mother’s beauty salon. All those bulky astronaut bonnets lined in perfect rows, vibrating air molecules to a feverish pitch. She likes this scientific homage to her mother extracting time from thin air.
“Recording of the control event complete. Setting a change in a condition set slightly in the past. The goal of this first jump is to see if this will change the outcome of the event to a more positive circumstance.”
She types on the laptop built into the armrest, then glances at the elaborate flowchart tacked upon the far wall of the laboratory. Written in
her own hand, neat and precise, equations and sums branch and connect like a roadmap of a probability highway.
She wonders which formula will have his lips pressing against hers.
“Test #1. Begin.”