Pastel Blue

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Pastel Blue

Do you ever wonder where quantum physicists derive their theories?

Well I do, at least today, as I wait for my early morning train.

It’s a cold, damp, badly lit platform, where most people stand contemplatory and isolated (or is that perhaps just sleepy and lonely). Some though, familiar from the regular commute , form little knots; they huddle up and circle round, briefly conversing, subtly engaging, occasionally invading the conventions of personal space in an attempt to bond.

The girl I’ve seen every morning this week, today in a pastel blue jumper, shivers visibly. A one way attraction, I yearn to offer her my coat. But the hiss of pressurised steam from a nearby espresso machine is suddenly drowned out by the clanking and grinding approach of a modern diesel and, as one, we all take a step forward.

This morning I’m lucky. Pastel blue sits opposite me. I try not to stare. The ice breaking words that I mean to say, that I want to say, bluster around in my head. But too late, the moment missed, she immerses in a book and a personal playlist.

We meander down the East Coast.

Suddenly she looks up and we watch together the sunrise over the Firth of Forth. Everyone is craning to see a sky that, given marvellous texture by mackerel-skin Cirrostratus, bleeds crimson into the heavens. A spectacular sight but for all its beauty, in my head, “sun arise, she bring in de mornin’” Rolf Harris sings over and over again! At moments like this you really do want the Rose Adagio not “spreadin’ all de light all around”

Before our destination pastel blue gets up, with impatient others, to make their way to the train door. In the gently swaying melee I see her ticket flutter softly to the compartment floor.

I get up but can’t get near in the crush; making little progress through staggering, oscillating mass. She realises she’s no ticket and becomes agitated. I, in my turn, also become agitated, struggling towards her.

I bend down to retrieve the . . . a sudden lurch backwards throws me forward and I’m at her feet, on my knees, but with no one between us. I proffer the fallen ticket, she smiles, and our fingers fleetingly touch. The crowd reform the doors open and I’m quite a way behind her when I get onto the platform. I see her up ahead turn and smile again. We were attracted.

I sit at a desk and talk all morning by telephone. I try to sell things to people who don’t need them, to people who don’t want them and to people who don’t understand them. I try to convince them that it is in my power to alter their lives. To do this I assume their speech cadences, subtly, to allow our interaction to flow more smoothly. Once I wonder if they were to do it back to me where would we end. If I was to affect a “tick” might I get a “tock” back?

My sandwich is chicken and egg. I doodle, I google, I ponder on theorem. But mainly I think of pastel blue.

In the afternoon I use a computer to process my words but I have no real understanding of its mechanics. All I know from basic computing is that in every binary computing switch there are only two possibilities: yes or no, on or off.

I walk from the office unaltered.

The return commute is the usual tedious evening rush. Held behind closed barriers we are a seething throng. The tired and the slow; the excited and the resigned. Even some who are obviously artificially stimulated.

Eventually trickled through, our random, unruly herd individualises and gains some order. A whole family separated on one side simply coalesces on the other without missing a beat of their animated chatter.

Then a startling burst and someone runs through the pack, and bumps me, he accelerated and driven with a sole purpose. That starts it; so we mill and we swarm, and we bounce off each other with never a thought. A shared but limited objective. A seat by the window?

This evening I’m unlucky, the man sitting beside leans heavily against me. Without ever looking we engage in the titanic struggle. Elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder. Jostling for our own space.

And now it is the turn of the moon to rise. Low over the water and, seen through the cantilevers of an engineering wonder of the world the Forth Rail Bridge, it is enormous. I hear the question, in my head, from my squirming, struggling, and hopefully erstwhile, companion; why does the moon look bigger when it’s low in the sky and smaller the higher it climbs even though it is exactly the same distance away?

The lunar paradox.

But why?

It’s a paradox! Nobody knows.

Stephen Hawking’ll know! I’m sure he thinks confidently.

Home town and I see pastel blue disembark from further down the train. She catches me up.

“Did you see the moon?” she asks breathless, “and that sun rise this morning?” She enthuses, “do you think that’ll happen again tomorrow?”

“Well”, I want say, “on the basis that the sun rose yesterday, and the sun rose today, I might be tempted to confidently predict that, yes, the sun might rise tomorrow . . .” but instead I say, “even if it doesn’t . . . I’ll still be waiting for the early train and hoping to see you.” And then I blush, in the dark.

As I walk out of the station I reach my conclusion; other sciences are obvious and part of everyday life but Quantum physics? No, they must just dream it all up.

About the Author: 
I'm bad with time so probably missed the deadline.