QUANTUM SHORTS 2017: SHORTLISTED, OPEN CATEGORY
Last week, I dreamt of worms wriggling in holes and woke and worried. A foretelling of decay? Forces, gravitational, electrical, magnetic hurtling towards an abyss of nothingness? I visited Agnes, my friend, who pulled out a card about New Beginnings from her Healing with the Angles box, and reassured me that worm-dreaming did not equate necessarily to death. Think of worms all warm in their wormholes, she said. Think of worms as a necessary to clear up all that is useless. Think of wormholes as opportunities, shortcuts leading a way through hardships. On returning home, I googled worms in wormholes and worried again: ceilings collapsing, toxic radiation, unpredictable alien-matter and a world filled with physics beyond any comprehension.
I continued to sleep poorly and dreamt more of pink spheroidal-shaped mouths and straight, stretched throats and slurping greedy lips to suck me into… Into what?
The alarm-clock rings to interrupt the nocturnal terrors of worms, I sigh, and open my eyes to face the sad truth: the worms are right to seek me out. They know I am useless. I am worthlessness, passé, past my sell-by-date. I am the mother of a TEENAGER.
I used to understand that my daughter was either happy or sad. She was either dancing with waves on the shore in summer or she was pensive, watching golden dust-particles drift in winter-warmth of the fire. She was either one or the other. Now she is a bewildering mess of happiness, sadness, pensiveness and intermittent dashes of rage, all muddled and swapping from positions to momentums in the spilt of a milli-second.
If I am concerned for her (dear child, are you cold, hot, hungry, sad?) she pulls the duvet over her face. If I am not concerned enough, she cries that I am too busy to notice her exclusive sufferings. There is only one thing certain in living with a teenager- there can be no certainty.
I shake off the images of worms and rise to face the day. It is already past eight and the door to her bedroom remains stubbornly closed. Her bag is not yet packed, lunch not prepared, homework unfinished and school bus arrives in twenty minutes.
I push open the door wishing again that there was a multiverse, or at least a duoverse, where I would not be gazing into a firewall of massy, hungover Dark Matter, but rather I would be looking at the bright nova of a crisp teenager neatly dressed in a uniform, smiling and offering to wash last night`s supper dishes. Ah, I yearn for a renormalization of my child.
My daughter, entropy personified, a living example of a conjugate variable, is awake. Her cell phone, glued to her fingers, is Facebooking, engaging with lives that are so boring, so uncurious that nihilism has died an unnoticed death.
In this room, chaos in not a theory, it is factual: one school-shoe lies up on a chair, the other sprawls down on the floor, her white shirt tangles as a strange bundle balancing on the tip of a clothes` pile, charms are nowhere in sight, her head is planted at the bottom of her bed, feet at the top.
I pause to gather up a quantum of energy. For goodness sake, how hard must this all be? She has my DNA, half of her helixes are entangled with mine, our base-pairs are interlinked. My DNA has already made its bed, showered, brushed its teeth and had its first coffee of the day. Why can’t some sort of spooky-action-at-a-distance-stuff kick in, so her DNA can in some tiny, yet wonderfully significant way, behave like mine?
How complex can this parenting-thing be? After all, there is only one infinitesimal piece of information that must be shared between us. There is only one tiny, little, minute qubit that she must hear, compute and comprehend: it- is- time- to- get up.
“Are you going to get up?” I muster courage to ask. What is the probability of a positive outcome? In accordance with the first-Born Rule, the chances of my daughter ditching her phone, understanding the request and raising herself up from her lazy bed are inversely proportional to the lateness of the hour she staggered home last night, and directly proportional to the amount of Pink Gins she consumed at the nightclub.
She ignores me. Her body is here but her mind is in hyperspace entangled with atoms racing around as texts, Instagram, SMSs, tweets and twitters. It is no wonder I sigh. What type of mother, influence, operator am I? Not a very good one, I fear. I cannot transform this unruly mismatch of messiness into a girl to board a bus to go to school.
I try a different tactic: “Listen, young madam, who do you think you are? This is my house, you must obey my rules. There are only two possibilities: yes or no. Either yes, you get up from that bed this instant and get dressed, or ….” I hesitate. I am wrong. There are not two possibilities, there is only one. I walk forward to rip the blasted phone from her fingers.
“Mum,” she says.
“Mum, are you familiar with the work of Einstein?”
Teenaged-show-off. Huh, do neutrinos have mass, are protons unstable, are there more than four dimensions?” I want to quip back, but sensibly, I bite back the questions and let her continue.
“Well,” the alien continues, “Einstein, said that education is what happens after you leave school.”
“Einstein was wrong,” I retort wittingly. Beat that, smart-ass.
She is not to be deterred: “Einstein also said that you have to learn to ask the right question.”
“Oh really, did he? And, Miss Know-it-all, tell me, if you please, what question should I be asking?”
“Well, you could start with- what day is it?”
Bitch-queen is right. It is Saturday. I slam her door and go back to bed. It is easier to deal with the worms.