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that my slant on Bohr’s version of the Copenhagen interpretation of
quantum mechanics was our last hope, I bullied Jane, who didn’t want to
be married to me anymore, and Sacha into cooperating with a final
desperate attempt to save the world.
“This is stupid, Tim,” Jane said, her voice softened a little by the brown paper bag over her head.
“La la, la
la, la la,” Sacha sang. She banged the heels of her shoes against the
legs of her chair in time to her tune. Wearing a bag over her head was
still fun, I thought, but our daughter was seven and had fidgeting down
to a fine art. How long would she stick with me?
pushed away my plate, but there was a sticky spot, orange marmalade
probably, where I would have liked to put my hands. I put them in my lap
instead. Breakfast had been tense. Jane had banged some pots around,
scorched some eggs, burned some toast, warmed some bacon. I wished I’d
brushed my teeth before I put a bag over my own head.
was tan, but not an even tan; I imagined it was like looking through the
dry, mottled skin of some desert creature, maybe a horned toad. There
was a seam where the brown paper overlapped and joined to make a bag,
and I couldn’t see much light through that double layer. If I tilted my
head back carefully, I could see what looked like the letter H in some
fancy font (except for the way the seam came up and touched the cross
piece of the H) made from the overlaps needed to square off and seal the
bottom of the bag.
“I don’t think I could have missed the fact that a comet is about to hit the Earth, Tim,” Jane said.
“Do you read the newspapers?”
“Do you watch TV?”
“You know I don’t.”
“How about the radio?”
“Well, no. Not today.”
“None of your goofy friends do either.” I nailed down my point. “So just how do you think you would have heard about it?”
“That tone is exactly why I say we need to live apart, Tim.”
“Boop boop boop be doop,” Sacha sang.
just relax,” I said. “And keep your bags on.” Things were slipping away.
I needed to circle our wagons. It was vital that none of us give the
world outside even a fleeting glance.
My own breath
aside, the smell inside my bag reminded me of all the things you can
carry in a brown paper bag. Curiously, the first thing that came to mind
was books. Surely I’d carried home more groceries in brown paper bags
than books. In fact, the name of the grocery store was printed right on
the bag in red letters. Nevertheless, I thought of books, and clothes,
and moving. I thought of garbage in the bags before I thought of
groceries. Maybe it was because groceries spend so little time in the
bags. I knew that if I packed my stuff up in paper bags, the bags might
just sit for months in some cold new place.
just my plan, Jane,” I said. “The president has been on TV urging people
not to look. Forests have been lighted to smoke up the skies. Teams are
everywhere in primitive areas making sure no one looks.”
“Even if there is a giant comet about to hit the Earth, just what good do you expect these bags to do?” Jane asked.
might happen can’t be separated from the devices you use to measure
them,” I said. “You can’t look at something without changing it.”
“The moon’s not there if no one is looking. Or in our case, the comet.”
“Like the tree in the forest?”
“Sort of,” I said. “But that was philosophy. This is science.”
“Oh, right. Sure.”
“I have to go to the bathroom,” Sacha said.
“Soon, honey,” I said. “Just hang on a little while longer.”
“Someone would peek,” Jane said.
“Maybe. But it won’t be us.”
“How can that matter?”
“This is the
same argument you use for not voting, Jane.” I knew I should be soothing
her instead of snapping at her, but I couldn’t help it. “It’s
irresponsible. If everyone thought like you, no one would vote.”
“Who’s talking about voting? We’re sitting around the kitchen table with grocery sacks over our heads!”
I decided to
try silence on Jane. I could hear my own breathing against the sides of
the bag, and with any little movement there was a rustle like dry autumn
leaves in a green plastic trash sack. I could hear birds too. They
would be in the feeder outside the window over the sink. They would fly
away if they caught us looking at them.
I could pull
the bag away from my face a little and look straight down and see my
white shirt over the gut hanging into my lap. I could suck the gut in; I
could sigh it out. I could see my tan slacks, my black loafers, and the
black and white kitchen tiles.
Strange, but I
couldn’t see the name of our grocery store through the bag. Had I put
the bag on backwards? I twisted it around. I still couldn’t see the
letters, and then I didn’t know which way the bag was. Were the red
letters to the front or to the back? I felt unhooked, disoriented, lost.
suddenly got brighter. It is my opinion that that was when the comet
touched the atmosphere, and because it didn’t hit just then, I think the
last person on Earth quit looking at it at precisely that moment.
“Don’t you see the sudden light of the fire?”
“A cloud probably just moved away from the sun,” Jane said.
I thought I heard some uncertainty in her voice. “That’s what you’d like to think,” I said.
“How long are we going to play this game, Tim?”
Why, just until the comet’s gone, I almost said. It hit me then that
Jane’s question was a good one. If finally no one was looking at the
comet, did that mean it went away, or did it mean the comet was hanging
frozen just inside the atmosphere, filling the entire sky, ready to
plunge down on us as soon as we looked? Didn’t that mean we could never
look? Didn’t that mean we were doomed to sit there at the kitchen table
with bags over our heads forever?
“It makes no
sense,” Jane said. “What about intelligences on other planets? What if
some alien shaman is looking at your comet through a telescope?”
“One of your saucer people?”
“At least there’s good evidence for them. Unlike your stupid comet.”
said, “if you looked out the window right now you’d see the sky filled
with fire, and just because you looked, the comet would crash down and
blow us all up.”
“You’re scaring me, Daddy,” Sacha said.
honey.” I would have liked to touch her hand, but I couldn’t reach her.
“Nothing can hurt you if you keep your head in the bag.”
“You’re teaching her to be an ostrich!”
“What’s an ostrich?” Sacha asked.
“Is that why you won’t let me have the weekends?” I asked.
“I really, really have to go, Daddy,” Sacha said.
I heard them
shifting in their chairs, moving around, trying to be quiet, but not
succeeding. I heard them whispering. Fear turned me to stone. The game
was up. I pictured Jane quietly slipping off her bag and setting it
aside, pictured her carefully removing Sacha’s bag, saw Jane grin and
roll her eyes in my direction and put her finger to her lips so Sacha
would be quiet, saw them both looking at me stiff in my bag, the two of
them, the little alien, the Russian girl, our surprising blond Sacha,
and the big one, looking so sweetly sad suddenly, Jane. It wasn’t that
she hated me, I realized. She’d moved on when I wasn’t looking. She was
bored, restless; we had so little in common these days. She wandered
like a wounded bird, one leg missing maybe, circling east, and I plodded
ever westward. What in the world did we have to talk about?
I saw Sacha
make an O of her mouth when she looked at the window and saw the comet
peeking in at us like an angry red eye filling the sky. I saw the comet
leap to Earth and fire the trees, the city, our house. Burning hurricane
winds knocked down our walls and crisped our skin and peeled our bones.
I cried out.
Jane snatched the bag from my head.
turned the refrigerator into a gleaming white block, an alien monolith
that had popped into existence among our chrome pots and wooden bowls.
From somewhere far away came the tiny tinkle tinkle of an ice-cream
truck. I looked at the window over the sink, and in a flutter of squawks
and black wings, birds fled the feeder.
“It’s easy to
see what happened,” I said. “You were right, Jane. Someone peeked. But
we didn’t. And because we didn’t, by the time we looked, we’d split off
into a reality in which the comet never existed in the first place.
“Oh, Daddy.” Sacha hugged me quickly, then ran off to the bathroom.
“Okay,” Jane said, “you can have every other weekend. But we take the cat.”
8.4.15 #TeamNafesa in the studio WORKING!!!! @jlemastermind @phillysoulfes! “You” Ft. Max Pain @maxpain215 #Mixing #Mastering session! Produced by @infernodash #LiveLIFE #MakeMUSIC 📝📝🎹🎹🎤🎤🎶🎶😍😘💋👊🏾 (at 432Hz Recording Suite and Multimedia Production Studio)
7.29.15 #StudioFlow with ENess @215eness #PhillySoulFes #Nafesa #MyMind the remix Ft. #ENess coming soon on the debut album #TheRealDeal #WaitForIt! Produced by @brep610, recorded/mixed/mastered by @jlemastermind at #432HzRecordingSuite #Philly #PhillyMusic #PhillyArtists #RNB #HipHop #Rap #Music! #LiveLIFE #MakeMUSIC 📝📝🎹🎹🎤🎤🎶🎶😍😘💋👊🏾 #TeamNafesa 👀❤️U! (at 432Hz Recording Suite and Multimedia Production Studio)