Kendra's Uncertainty

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Normally, Kendra hated going to the bar. It was too difficult to find the door. It wasn't like the 'old days', so everyone old said. Back then, people could just text one another beforehand and end up in the same place. Weird.

Going to the bar was an extended experience in boredom for Kendra, not to mention the ubiquitous, inane entrance question. "There are only two possibilities: Yes or No", which Kendra always thought was particularly ludicrous because it didn't actually matter which way you answered it. If you had managed to find the door, you were going in.

"But it will be fun!" Kiki had said earlier "You need to get out more".

This was true, Kendra had to admit, but getting out more entailed traipsing the streets, randomly, hoping you would find the bar or, in reality, not hoping you would find the bar. If you actually tried to look for the place, you couldn't find it - ever. Kendra had always thought the entry question really should be "How did you manage to find the place?" but the keeper of the door could never ask that realistically because no one would ever be able to explain it and then, she supposed, no one would ever get in.

The bar staff lived there, they had to. She often wondered if they were grown in pods because the bar staff didn't appear and disappear like normal people - they were always at the bar. How they ended up there in the first place was hard to fathom. "I must ask one of them" she reminded herself, as she did every time she went, but she would never remember to once she entered.

"But it is so fabulous!" Kiki had said on the phone. "Just to get inside you have to clear your mind, which you know you need to do Kendra."

Along with "getting out more", Kendra, of course, knew that clear mind was a good thing. The old people said so. "Before this" they would tell you on the teletrons, "people were stressed and lifestyles led to a constant worry about getting to the right place and being there at the right time." The old people had cured that. Now to have a good time you needed to clear your mind.

"You have to, you know, talk to a random stranger or your mom or something until you get there" Kiki, still cajoling.

Kiki said this because she didn't go to the bar often. She tried often, of course, but could get too focused on the place and the fun to be had and most of the time would never arrive. Kendra didn't need this advice because she always got there 'right on time' as her grand-sire used to say, mostly because she didn't ever want to go. Not anymore.

It wasn't like work. To get into work there had to be an answer to the question. "There are only two possibilities: yes or no." Of course everyone always answered "yes" because you needed the money and a work-place was extraordinarily easy to find. The problem with work was making friends with your next-cubicle neighbor and then never seeing them again. This was considered to make everyone more efficient at work, which Kendra guessed was the idea and probably what the old people would have said.

"There are only two possibilities: Yes or No" yelled the sylphlike man in his bar-issue sequined uniform.

"Look sweetheart, I ain't got all day"

"Yes you do", thought Kendra, "in fact you have loads of time, you have nowhere else to go and lack the will to go anywhere because you were grown in a pod".

"Which is it?" he said with an eye-roll. "Now you're making me repeat it, we're only supposed to ask once, in split second or you'll be away. So let's go: There are only two possibilities: yes or no"

"Yes" Kendra heard herself say.

She looked around for Kiki, once you were through the door this was, of course, possible, and she was even somewhat hopeful despite Kiki usually being a no-show.

Then Kendra saw him. Ben who she'd fallen for two years ago. "Has it really been that long" she thought to herself and realized it was only recently she had just stopped thinking about him all the time.

In almost less time than it took her to think it, Kendra realized that Ben saw her too. And almost as suddenly he was standing by her side, in less time it took to even think yes or no.

"Wow, I didn't know you could move that fast" Kendra said

Ben locked his eyes with hers "Shhh, we don't have time to flirt or think too long Kendra, you know that. There are only two possibilities: yes or no"

"Yes" Kendra was certain, for the first time in her life perhaps absolutely certain.

"Then we have to hold on tight to each other because now the rest of our lives are going to be pretty much up for grabs" Ben said, never letting go over her hand or breaking eye contact.

"Yes" Kendra said more emphatically this time and the bar instantaneously dissolved around them.

About the Author: 
Sylvia McLain has been lab technician, a field biologist, a chemist and is now a biophysicist at Oxford University where she runs a scientific research group. She is an occasional writer for the The Guardian's science blog Occam's Corner and for blog collective Occam's Typewriter.