Monday, January 26, 2009

The Invisible World of the Random

The cellphone rang incessantly on her lacquered wooden nightstand. The light was just beginning to creep through the bubbling clouds, the bulbous blue shapes that defined the horizon of her dreams. The clouds had a touch of soft gray that whispered threats of rain and wind, but they were still friendly enough and rays of sunshine played at their edges and interrupted the whispers with small smiles and flirting eyelashes. The ringing barely disturbed her dreams and her round, pale face was relaxed and soft upon the feather pillow. The phone rang and was then followed by a couple minutes of silence, then it began again. Brrinnnnnggg! Brrriiinnnnng!!! She rolled over and pulled the pillow closer to her chest. Her mother was on the other end, overseas, feeding gold coins into a pay phone every ten minutes. She stood at a glass booth on the edge of a large blue lake that was surrounded by granite boulders. Sunbathers rested on the soft, organic shapes. The boulders were smooth and round, each one a unique interpretation of an oval or an egg. They were gentle giants, caressed by the water and wind for millennia and ending up here, and her open eyes surveyed the shapes with both awe and a small amount of panic. She had called her daughter six times this morning and four times yesterday. The tone of her child’s recorded voice, which sounded familiar, yet alien, entered her ear each time and sent a trace shiver up her spine. She was calling to ask about the letters, she was wondering if they had arrived at her daughter’s doorstep yet. They had been sent several weeks ago, had they crossed the ocean yet? Or where they among the thousands of other parcels in a bin somewhere, perhaps in Britain or New York, in a cold, white room waiting for a further reshuffling. Was a mail officer looking at the address right now, determining which route it will travel, which airplane it will enter and which man who would bring it to the door? "With the help of god", she thought mechanically, "the letters will arrive." As she hung up the cool plastic receiver of the pay phone, a sinking feeling mounted in her stomach. She was not a woman of chance. She did not like gambling, she did not enjoy being a houseguest or to be under someone else’s charge in any way. She controlled her life, no one else. The mail system was one of her biggest fears. It was chance. There were too many odds, too many hands that the letters passed through, too many machines, too many chances for error. There were too many opportunities for mistakes and she did not like the odds. She believed only in the certain, the things she could see with her eyes…the apple on the tree, the taste in her mouth, the words on a page written by a careful hand. The invisible was far from her world. To touch the invisible was a gamble, a universe with qualities and characteristics that were beyond seeing, beyond the absolute rightness of her senses. She had lived a short life of hunger and fear, at four years old, she had a moment of realization and from that, she determined she could only believe in things that were immediately in front of her, there was nothing else beyond her perception that could be trusted. Her third daughter was nothing like this. The pain of childbirth had brought an alien into her arms. A small piece of flesh with a full head of red hair that projected the energy of lightning bolts. The child had never cried. The little baby grew up to be the woman’s exact opposite, both in looks and personality. The dearth of their commonalties grew ever wider as both women aged. The young woman grew to appreciate the world of chance, seeing it as a mystery that continued to unfold with each breath she took. She never asked for explanations. They both lived among the reshaping of an old system, each reacting differently towards it. Humans had just built the first community on the moon and the girl was scheduled to depart in three days for her first lunar experience. Soon, she would take off, looking back at the dwindling landscape of America, seeing it clearly as a dot in the infinite expanse, her world one of millions of worlds among countless stars.

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