Quantum Love

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Stomping winter from my boots, I call a cheery hello, but Kara does not respond. I can see from the front hall into our tiny kitchen, where she sits at the chipped Formica table, sipping bourbon, a sure sign that I’ve screwed up. I brighten my smile, hoping to distract her with devil-may-care.

She swirls her drink into a vortex. “Jax, do you love me?” A fringe of auburn hair brushes her shoulder as she tilts her head. In my mind, I trace the constellations freckling her cheeks. Fear prickles my heart. What if I cannot express my adoration?

“Out of all the random possibilities,” I start, “the universe brought us together. You and me.”

She rolls her eyes. I have long ago drowned in their deep blue. “Jax, there are only two possibilities, yes or no.”

“It’s not so simple. There’s much more, within. And beyond.” My passion for her radiates into the space surrounding us, so intense that I fear she may immolate.

“Yes or no, Jax? Anything between is doubt, and that counts as no.”

How do I demonstrate that yes contracts and not yes expands? Runnels of sweat trace my hairline and trickle into my beard. “Kara, look how we behave. It’s like we’re condensed into one. A super-person. I can’t deny the force and power of you in my life.”

Her eyes fire lasers, cutting my heart. “Answer the question Jax. Yes or no?”

“Kara, we’re entangled. When I’m at work, I see you, touch you, smell you. You are my constant. I think what you think, feel what you feel. No matter how far away, we’re together.” I believe this absolutely. And yet, standing here, I experience nothing. Desperate to re-achieve coherence, I sit next to her, take her hand. “Kara, there is a concept, it’s like a glue that binds the heart of matter. You are that glue to me.”

“I’m your glue?” She pulls her hand from mine, takes a long draft of her Kentucky life-force. The distance between us grows larger, exponentially, although neither of us moves.

Afraid that I am losing her, my voice is soft, pleading. “There’s a saying, ‘God doesn’t play dice with the world…’”

“Keep God out of it. We’re scientists. This is about free will, objective reality. Do you love me, or do you not?”

“Kara, when your eyes meet mine, they usher me into existence. You form me in the universe.” I feel this so fervently that my voice shakes and heat imbues my core: “You make me who I am.”

“I never grasp what you’re talking about,” she says with such coldness that I feel us snap apart.

“I would be nothing without you. How could that be clearer?” She stares at me, tapping her fingers on the table. I remember something and lope to the front hallway to retrieve my backpack. “I found a present for you this morning.” I unzip the front pocket of the worn pack, lift my gift, present it to her. “This is what you mean to me.”

“A dead rose?” Kara looks incredulous.

"What? No, it’s not dead.” She insists that it is. I try to make her comprehend. “It’s the last rose. I dug under the snow to find it for you. The scent accompanied me all day, transported you to me. How could it not be alive?”

Kara sneers, a look foreign to me. “The petals are curling brown, and falling. You’ve given me a lifeless rose.”

“It’s changing. That means it’s living. Roses go dormant in snow, and blossom in spring. They promise tomorrow. That’s why I picked it for you.”

She speaks through clenched teeth, “It’s not blooming. Admit it. Our love, to you, is a decaying bud.”

I slump back into the chair. “It was alive until you saw it.”

She tears at the yellow petals, crushes them with her fingers. “Forget the flower Jax. Is our relationship going anywhere?”

I blink. “Where would it go? It is faultless as it is, right now, right here.”

She swivels to face me, her eyes flashing. “Jax, do we have a future?”

I realize that I’ve been working so much that she feels abandoned. “Kara, our future is this moment. Eternally, universally, infinitely. This moment.”

She swipes her hand across the table, slamming it into the tumbler. Particles of bourbon spread apart, then fall in a synchronized wave, landing with the shattering glass. “This is it? Forever? You a post-doc. Me pounding chemical formulas into the brains of trust fund brats. Me, waiting on tables, to support us. Me, coming home to intimate conversations with a bourbon bottle, while you chase quantum magic in your lab. This is our future?”

Her words hit me like bullets, and engulf me in waves of despair so intense that tears pour down my cheeks. “No, no, no. Let me explain. Say there’s a couple named...”

“We’re not talking about Alice and Bob. We’re talking about Kara and Jax.” She explodes, waving her arms, close enough to my face that I slide back my chair.

My eyes search our tiny apartment, every particle a testament to our unified life. “Kara, our world is profound.”

She flings herself at me, her fists pounding my chest. “Your world. It’s not mine, and I’m sick of it. Get out.” I reach toward her cheek, but she slaps my hand away. “Get out!”

I shake so hard that I disintegrate.

##

Stomping winter from my boots, I call a cheery hello, but Kara does not respond. I can see from the front hall into our tiny kitchen, where she sits at the chipped Formica table, sipping bourbon, a sure sign that I’ve screwed up. I brighten my smile, hoping to distract her with devil-may-care.

She swirls her drink into a vortex. “Jax, do you love me?”

I know this question. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

About the Author: 
Kathy Joyce is an organization development consultant and educator by day, writer by night. America Magazine has published her essays. WriterAdvice.com, Writers Digest, and Women on Writing have awarded prizes for her fiction. She lives in Michigan with two teenagers, one poodle, one toad, and a very patient husband.