Two Possibilities Reduced To One Reality

by: Laure Van Rensburg

A short story, peppered tenderly with science, and centered around the anxiousness of an uncertain introduction…

I stand by the bedroom door, watching your tanned shoulders disappear under a crisp white shirt. Sensing my eyes on you, you turn around, offering me the smile that melts my heart quicker than steel in nitric acid. I ache to pull that shirt along with your body into bed — an unscheduled change, a derailment of this evening’s agreed field experiment — but I don’t. I’ve made you a promise: no more hypothesis or predictions, tonight’s the night for validation and confirmation.

“Don’t be so worried, it’ll be fine,” you tell me.

Do you read my thoughts in the pull of my brow, or do you just know me so well? “Now, stop looking at me like you’re starving and I’m dinner and get ready, you continue.”

“Yes, boss.” I smile.

Parking is a nightmare as usual, but I’m glad for the reprieve as we circle the block, delaying the inevitable. I will take all I can get.

You’re walking slightly ahead of me, your hand that isn’t holding a bottle of wine pulling me along. I stay silent, busy running simulations in my head on how the evening might unfold. But there are too many unknown variables, and I’m missing data for an accurate set of likely outcomes. So engrossed in simulations and thought experiments, I almost miss the next critical step: the front door.

“You’re going to have to open this if you want us to get in,” you say, laughing.

Inside, we are immediately greeted by the scent of warm custard and cinnamon—the aromas of my childhood.

“Hello?” I send the word out, a search party looking for signs of life.

It works, and the natives come out to welcome us. The critical event is looming now, my body buzzing like an accelerator full of subatomic particles, colliding. I’m Schrödinger about to open the box: two possibilities reduced to one reality. In that moment, your fingers lace with mine, your hand giving me a “don’t-worry-it’ll-be-fine-I-promise” squeeze. The scariest thing in my life isn’t so insurmountable with you by my side.

“Hello Hannah. How’s my favorite undergrad?”

“Good, mum.”

“Who is this you’re bringing then, darling?” mum asks, wiping her hands on a tea towel as dad joins us.

Incoming new data to test predictions. “Mum, dad, I would like you to meet Sophie, my girlfriend.”


Laure Van Rensburg is a native of France currently living in the UK. She studies creative writing at Ink Academy in London and is working on her first novel.

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