A/N: Spoilers for 2x09 Aliens In A Spaceship. Lines of poetry are from Lucinda Roy's Carousel, some quotes from Anne Michaels' Fugitive Pieces. A full explanation of Schrödinger's cat experiment can be found in Wikipedia. Reviews are very much appreciated.
The quantum cat straddles the red-brick windowsill of her apartment occasionally, finally freed of the hypothetical box containing the hypothetical atom decaying/failing to decay; being suspended, strung up between two distinct realities; two completely
The quantum cat straddles the red-brick windowsill of her apartment occasionally, finally freed of the hypothetical box containing the hypothetical atom decaying/failing to decay; being suspended, strung up between two distinct realities; two completely different possibilities. Schrödinger's feline: the state of uncertainty, neither dead nor alive; the throbbing of its own heartbeat in its ear, all the while feeling the tepid, clammy, dead flesh; its own.
A matter of life and death, people said sometimes, and how apt, she thought. How grotesquely fitting.
She knows, as he does now, that when they lifted that particular lid (this one lay beneath pounds of soil, and he bloodied his fingernails prying the edges) at that particular moment in time, the atom had not decayed; there was no poison vapor.
Moments before, the entomologist conjures thin air out of thin air, he grins, as her eyes become accustomed to the dark.
(She wants to think he'll find her, and he hopes he will; but their chances are certainly far from the fifty-fifty odds of the ginger-white cat that haunts her dreams.)
He lifts her out of the soil-saturated car, his arms reaching around her form limp with relief.
She feels the saddle of pelvis, his, the curve of skull, fibulas and femurs, sacrum and sternum. The arches of his ribs, every breath flooding blood between the ossicula of the ears and of his feet.
To feel exquisitely alive, to take each glorious breath—
she sees his face split in a grateful, relieved grin. The edges of her mouth curl up in a matching smile almost reflexively, like he's just told a joke and it would be polite to smile.
They stay that way for a long time. It's only when they help her to her feet that she tastes salt mixed in the grainy feel of the sand, stinging her tongue. It might have been her tears or his blood; she couldn't tell the difference; not right then.
Somehow dead was better than missing-- people always demanded closure, and for some reason they wished to see the dead, if only to shun denial and find sorrow; to have certainty rather than uncertainty; to have the cat dead or alive, never both.
To never have hope, because it hurt too much and was never worth it.
In the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which does not single out observation as a special process, both alive and dead states of the cat persist, but are decoherent from each other.
She has this recurring nightmare, this dream:
she's in the lab, and the stainless steel of the examination table stretches to infinity; row after row of white-tented death, thousands of skeletons to feel and identify. One by one they revive to tell her their stories, and she sits, silent.
There is always one, though, the one after which she jolts straight up in bed, gasping for breath-- she kneads the familiar curves of this particular skeleton; she's navigated the dips and smoothness of this bones before, somewhere--
she sees the weaved, dyed bands of color circling its ankles, the protrusion of the lateral malleolus, the gradual regeneration of the tired, duty-weary face as it sits up slowly:
They speak of a Cheshire cat disappearing, leaving only its grin.
In some ways it reminds her of the old rusted belt buckle she's tucked somewhere in her desk drawer; the only remnant of something else whole. Something complete.
She has her mother's bones, but often it isn't enough, not for her. She understands the victims' families demand for closure, if only because she wants it too-- she wants more than a skeleton laid out on a table, a plastic bag the only receptacle for what remains: a small glass marble, a few receipts; a dolphin on a rusted buckle.
In those hours she thinks of leaving him something more, but all she has is an earth-stained piece of parchment and her words;
where there is no place to put things/no place for your bones or your slippers or my words/
there cannot be a place for spaces.
(there cannot be a place for spaces.)
She thinks of this only: how if she had appreciated metaphors she would have quoted poetry; if she had a penchant for philosophy she would have made death out to be a journey; if she was more eloquent she would have written a fitting eulogy. But for who she is, for who they are, she brings the nib of the pen to the rough, suddenly foreign length of fiber, and writes only this: it's not your fault (but she leaves out the name, so the statement isn't explicit and solely his to bear).
the swinging back to where
we were, slow undulations round and back
to identical place