We were driving back home, late at night. The radio played a song about collecting time in a bottle and I hummed along. With the chorus I sang aloud. She turned toward me and smiled. I’d sung this one for her before…it was our song.
As the last notes faded, she turned the volume down. “Do you think there is a point in the future we wouldn’t be together?”
My feet hovered over the brakes. “Why would you even say that?”
“No,” she laughed. “I don’t mean it like that.”
I narrowed my eyes.
She continued. “I mean, like you were saying the other day about wanting to be a different person with different wants. I was thinking, given enough time do all our wants change? There are so many paths to choose, and you know, the future is never set. It keeps changing with every little choice we make.”
“Have you read multiverse theory?” I did not take my eyes off the road but from the corner of my eye I saw her shake her head. I cleared my throat, once. “The theory goes that all probabilities are possible at the same time. Every turn of the dice exists, simultaneously. Of course, scientists talk about this in terms of elements and dimensions and how gravity evolves in space and time, but I also like to think that with every choice we make, every path is a universe of its own and it affects the world in subtle ways. Each path not followed is a path followed in another universe. And with the sheer size of the cosmos there are multitudes of probabilities, each leading to its own universe. A multiverse.”
“You read too many comics,” she said.
I shrugged. “They are valid scientific theories, you know. Not proven or anything, but not unproven either.”
“Okay, so let’s consider it to be true. Does that mean there is a universe in which we’ve drifted apart?”
“Maybe. And there are many universes where we never met too.”
I smiled. “Remember how we met?”
“How can I forget?”
“Imagine I decided not to leave the house that day, or you decided to go somewhere else. Or you got delayed and you weren’t there at the right moment. That way, we never meet. Ever. There could be many universes like that.”
Her forehead nestled against her eyebrows. “But these are all past events. Do you think there is a timeline in the future where we aren’t together?”
“You seem quite adamant about not wanting to be with me in the future. Are you dropping hints?”
She laughed. “No, you weirdo.”
“I’m the weirdo?”
“I’m just curious.”
“Time?” I mused. “Time is strange. It’s the fourth dimension we move in, but in only one direction. There are ways in which you can predict the future — I mean, true scientific ways — with calculations and everything. But even then, you can only find the probability of where the object will be. There is no definite number or a point where you can trace it.”
“Oh. So you mean, there is a probability that we may not be together?”
“Umm…if you ask me right now, given our conversation, the probability somehow seems quite high.”
“Shush,” she patted my arm. “Tell me. Is there a chance?”
I bit my lip before replying. “There is always a chance. Do I want it? No. Do you? I’m not sure anymore.”
“Of course I don’t want it.”
“I’ll take your word for it.” I took a deep breath. “But forget the future. It’s immaterial. Maybe it doesn’t even exist. I’ve always thought we only have the present. In our now and right now, you and I are together. Maybe one day, I’ll learn how to bottle it, and we’ll forever live in a time called now.”
“We think we understand time, but we don’t really. It’s like…”
“…like knowing the weight of an object without understanding how gravity works.”
Her eyes widened. “Exactly. But it’s fun to think about. Maybe the probability of the now existing forever in a bottle is also out there in a universe where time exists in the state like a pool of water.”
“Oh, you. Now, you’re talking my language.”
We laughed for a spell and a comfortable silence stretched between us. In that space we reached our home and I parked the car. As we got out, I looked up. The night sky was alive with stars.
She was looking up too, her eyes starlit. I stood beside her taking her hand in mine and looking up. A star fell, streaking across the sky.
I said, “There are enough accidents happening in the universe, we among them.” I turned to look at her and she at me. “I’d like to think that though many universes exist, there is a sense of symmetry within them all. And if I kiss you now, in another universe, devoid of humanity, two celestial bodies might collide.”
“I’d like that…” is all she managed to say before my lips collided with hers.
Akshay G. is currently working on a secret book project. This is an extract from it. Feedback is always welcome.