A/N: This came into existence via writing a different story, when I had an image stuck in my head that I really wanted to use, but couldn't make it fit into the frame work of the story. Thus, this series-of-vignettes-in-a-bigger-story was born. It's IMPORTANT you read the epigraph before tackling the main body text itself, or you might miss the premise behind the whole thing. If anyone finds any discrepancies in my brief explanation of quantum physics, please let me know. As always, reviews are very much appreciated and I hope you enjoy reading.

Schrödinger's Cat

PG (abortion is mentioned)

Drama

Padmé waits for the results of the pregnancy test while reality flickers and diverges around her.


In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger illustrated the quantum principle of superposition on an observable scale using the figurative cat in the box. Hidden from view, a cat is placed in a box with a vial of hydrocyanic acid, a hammer and a generator of random choice. There are two possible outcomes to the situation, dictated by random choice- the hammer drops on the vial and the cat is killed, or the hammer does not drop, the vial remains intact and the cat lives. The theory of superposition states that until observed, both possible outcomes exist simultaneously, that is, the cat is both dead and alive until the box is opened. Once the event is observed, stable reality reasserts itself as random selection determines the outcome.

A piece of chromaplas sat waiting innocuously on the vanity top.

To the woman perched anxiously on the edge of the bath, its presence seemed to mercilessly tug at the tenuous threads that held the security of her life together. She had deliberately placed it face down and all that showed was a sterile white surface that was mismatched horribly with the warmer cream tones of the polished marble bench top. The small rectangle of white clashed with everything in the décor perfect bathroom- towels, tiles, fittings. For the next thirty seconds the small piece of chromaplas would clash with her entire life, and then it could potentially throw everything sky high.

Or, it could not.

29. 28.

When she had rushed to the 'fresher with the small pharmaceutical package in hand, her thoughts had been in such a whirl that she had completely neglected to bring her chronopiece in with her. So, now she sat counting silently, lips following the movements of vowels and consonants, but never making a sound. In between the measured numerals her mind grabbed frantically at a million variations of the future. It took them all, infinite in number, and laid them out before her.

26. 25.

A babe suckled at her breast, while the adoring eyes of its father looked on. She was seated in a comfortable chair that didn't belong in her Senatorial apartments- it was worn in that homely way and old fashioned in its design. Completely out of place in her Coruscant surroundings. The abundance of blue and green at the window gave away her location- the wide body of water and vast coverings of verdant foliage beyond the walls of her home could have only belonged on Naboo. These new and unfamiliar dreams of motherhood were always housed most comfortably on her home planet. The fast paced, driven atmosphere of Coruscant was no place to raise a child- certainly no child of hers.

23. 22. 21.

She saw herself heavily pregnant, standing before Palpatine's desk while the chancellor pieced her with a grave look. An assorted collection of fellow Nubian bureaucrats and political opponents was positioned around the room bearing expressions of contempt. She was fighting a losing battle against the conservatives who had called for her resignation as soon as the pregnancy had become too prominent to hide. It seemed that women would continue to suffer society's double standards- even Senator Amidala herself was not immune. With no father in sight, the traditionalists had denounced her as a loose woman and unfit to represent in the Senate. Her home electorate, who had always been most supportive of their Queen, had largely abandoned her after the media had dragged her very public profile through a scandalous quagmire. A sigh of defeat left her and she felt the smug ripple of victory filter through the haughty politicians at her rear. She had always known there was risk involved in allowing herself to love Anakin, but the sting of disappointment was no less blunt now that her career was awash in humiliation.

18. 17.

An electronic buzz.

The same blue-eyed child blinked sleepily at her as she passed the swaddled buddle over to Dormé. The buzz of the apartment doors repeated again. As far as visitors outside her husband and close-knit security circle were concerned, the child was the biological progeny of the faithful handmaiden. The father absent, perhaps dead in the Wars- any excuse, as long as it wasn't connected to herself or Anakin. Her heart railed against publicly denying the child its rightful parents, but deception and the practice of holding her secrets close to the chest was not a foreign one. While she could easily fall into the trap of believing it unfair that the world should demand such sacrifices, she reminded herself that the real injustice of their circumstance was not endured by either herself or her husband. It fell instead to the newborn resting against Dormé's shoulder, who, through no choice of their own, had been brought into the masked world of their parents' making. She thought of the various roles the child would one day be forced to perform to keep its parents' marriage safe and felt guilt twinge her gut.

She pushed the button that would allow the unknown guest entry.

13. 12. 11.

Visions of her husband before the council, doing something typically rash, renouncing his vows and the Order- or, perhaps, found out and expelled in disgrace. It was impossible to tell from the passive faces of the council members and she imagined Anakin's jaw would carry that same determined set regardless of the circumstances of his exiting the Order. He knelt before Master Kenobi in a final mark of respect as his former padawan and relinquished his lightsaber, a weapon that hadn't left his side since he had been old enough to handle one. Obi-wan had the graciousness to let the Jedi Master countenance drop for a moment, permitting an expression of regret to slip through before Anakin rose and resolutely walked from the hallowed halls of the Temple.

7. 6. 5.

A shaky hand (her own, she realised) pressed the entry plate to a pair of sliding grey doors as she slipped inside. A cold and sterile medical android awaited her near an equally cold and sterile appearing examination table and she shivered. Stepping behind the curtain to undress and don the white gown provided for her, she noted in a very detached manner that the floor was frigid. She wondered if the surgical implements would be cold too, like everything else about the clinical room. Cautiously, she came out from behind the curtain and the droid began to outline the procedure in its synthesised unvarying cadence. The clouds of doubt in her mind blocked the information from reaching her, and though neurons sparked as they filed away the facts into her memory bank, none of it penetrated her conscious thought. Lying on her back on the table, her vacant eyes stared at the ceiling. Metallic appendages were met by a millisecond of fleeting resistance before they pushed her knees open.

What in the galaxy was she doing?

As the vacuum that would suck the microscopic life out of her was slowly inserted between her legs all she could think of was the cold.

4. 3.

The images, both good and bad, evaporated from her thoughts as the countdown wound to a close. Whether she wanted it or not, in a matter of seconds the path of her life was going to come to a decisive fork in the road.

All determined by a tiny square of colour on a flimsy piece of chromaplas.

From the memories of her years of education echoed a long forgotten theory. Though it had fallen out of favour of the contemporary great thinkers, scientists had once been fascinated by the concept of multiple realities. For each and every quantum interaction, every toss of a coin, at each indeterminate choice the universe spilt to create every infinite combination of events possible. She wondered if perhaps, somewhere, each envisioned life would actually be lived, the joyous and the desperate courses unfolding along parallel lines.

2.

Superposition: the simultaneous existence of two possible outcomes.

Random choice dictated the outcomes of each reality and she fervently prayed for luck. She stepped up to the bench, hand hovering while her stomach rose to her throat.

1.

The universe swayed on its fine balance- she was running out of seconds to count.

0.

Reality split before collapsing once again into stable existence, as Padmé turned the white rectangle.


Thanks for reading- what did you think? Reviews would be fantastic!