Love in the Multiverse

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I’m in Emily’s bedroom. Don’t get any ideas—it isn’t like that. Not for lack of trying on my part, though.

We’re both graduate students at the university. I’m the theoretical physics guy, she’s the molecular biology girl. Her lab is in the building next to mine.

It was love at first sight. For me, not her. Emily kindly but firmly shot me down when I asked her out on a date. It was unequivocal.

Regardless, we became friends. Rather, she became friends, while I became lovelorn. I can’t stop thinking about her. Still, I’m old enough not to hold onto any false hopes. Twenty-seven is old enough, right?

My research centers around using software to model the phenomena of wave-particle duality. I’m not a genius. I tend to look for the easy way out. Why torture yourself trying to climb over an obstacle when you can just go around it completely? In this case, that means having a computer do the heavy lifting.

I had the notion that the infamous double-slit experiment simply proves that every particle exists simultaneously at every location, causing multiple realities to exist. For example, there exists a reality alternate to ours in which everything is exactly the same—except one electron is one Planck-length over to the left, so to speak. Our consciousness, however, can detect only the reality to which it belongs.

Now, extrapolate this concept to every particle in existence. It’s a huge number of possibilities, sure, but it’s finite. And that’s where my software comes in. I programmed a virtual big bang, and then my software crunched the numbers and mapped out our reality. The fine details would bore you.

Now that I have a perfect configuration map of our reality, I can make changes. For example, if I tell my software to model a reality in which JFK wasn’t assassinated, I get a number: how many particles are in a different location as compared to our current reality.

Why haven’t I stopped JFK’s assassination, you ask? Simple: I get just one shot at changing reality. I’ve run the models enough to know that my consciousness will survive through only one reality-shift.

Also, there’s the tricky problem of the observation effect. If I execute the program and view the results, then I’ll have made an observation, which will cause reality to shift in that direction. At least, that’s my theory.

So here I sit on Emily’s bed, looking at the walls painted light green, the antique dresser with the big mirror. The string-lights over her closet are a nice touch. She’s putting some textbooks in her bag and telling me about her struggles to obtain grants in our underfunded world of science. I’m thinking how great we’d be together; a modern Marie and Pierre Curie, conquering new scientific frontiers.

I have one shot. Should I live in a reality with cancer cured? Nuclear fusion power? Or should I buy a sports almanac and put some money on the Cubbies? Wait, wrong paradigm.

As Emily gathers her things and we prepare to leave, I think of all the good she and I could do for humanity—and for each other, if she were in love with me as I am with her. She could cure cancer! I could solve nuclear fusion power! We’d be like that power couple on Breaking Bad. Not the drug-dealing couple, I mean.

Later that night, alone in my apartment, staring at my computer, I make the decision. I type in the reality I wish to join. Emily and I, together. I execute the program. Wait. Then I observe the data on the screen.

Total blackness.

Then, the sound of my own breathing, deep and restful. Disorientation—am I in my bed? Was I dreaming about executing the program?

A few moments of deep breathing. I’m slowly waking up, but I still feel disoriented.

The blankets are drawn up to my chin, and I feel like I’m rousing from a profound slumber. Did I just go to bed last night after viewing the data?

I open my eyes.

Confusion. This isn’t my bedroom.

There’s a window to my right, and the shades are half-drawn, admitting just a little sunlight. But it’s enough light to see the dresser with a large mirror. The light green walls. The string lights over the closet.

This is Emily’s bedroom. I’m waking up in Emily’s bed.

It worked!

Still, I’m too shocked to move. Is this really happening? It must be happening. The bedroom door is open; I hear someone bustling about. The sounds and smells of breakfast being prepared.

My heart begins racing. I’ve done it! It actually worked!

I’m now fully awake. I pull the covers off and throw my legs over the side of the bed. And a long fall of hair swings in my face.

What? I don’t have long hair. I reach up to brush the hair away, and then I freeze. My arm. My arm isn’t this petite—or relatively hairless. And I certainly don’t wear fingernail polish.

My heart races even faster, though I’m still frozen. I look down at slim, equally smooth legs.

Now I unfreeze. I get out of bed and quickly move to the dresser mirror.

By now, the sunlight is intensifying and the room is glowing warmly.

And Emily’s beautiful eyes are sunlit radiance as they stare back at me in the mirror. I trace my gaze down Emily’s lips, to her chin, her neck, her shoulders. I watch her as she breathes. I breathe.

I’m frozen again. Funny how that keeps happening. But I leap when I hear a familiar voice say from the doorway, “Emily?”

It’s me. That’s me. I’m there, in the doorway. Looks like I finally got the girl. Emily and I, together.

“Any chance you’re joining me for breakfast?” I say. He says.

I’m staring, motionless, in shock. “Emily?”

“I’m… not sure,” I manage.

I laugh. He laughs? “Well, there are only two possibilities. Yes or no.”

About the Author: 
Neil Matharoo lives in Brooklyn, where he works in the science world and plays in a rock band.