Our best theory of gravity no longer belongs to Isaac Newton. It’s Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. There’s just one problem: it is incompatible with quantum theory. The effort to tie the two together provides the greatest challenge to physics in the 21st century.
That morning was crisp and clear. The forecast gave me clear skies and a warm breeze. I was dying to find a way to reconcile my feelings of loss and powerlessness. The mountains near our house had proven trails, and I was determined that I would find a way to get myself unstuck from this disconsolation I had been feeling since the “discussion”. I decided that a long hike was just what I needed.
The brisk walk and fresh air let me think more distinctly. I had so much I wanted to say, I wouldn’t beg. I couldn’t make someone do something they didn’t want to do. How do you tell the person you love that you want more out of life than they do? That you want to share things with them that they just don’t want? How do you build a future together, if you aren’t looking in the same direction?
I was so lost in thought that I didn’t notice that clouds had snuck in above my head until I heard a rumbling in the distance and began feeling fine droplets start tapping on my face.
I looked ahead and saw, in the distance, a lean-to shelter. Grateful, I started jogging to get to it. The rain was coming down in earnest as I slipped under the primitive looking roof. A flash lit up the sky and moments later rumbling. A little worried, I pulled out my phone and checked for service. One bar. Well, that was enough to make a call and at least let someone know where I was. It was 7:30 AM, Johni should be up. I hesitated. I was still upset with her.
“Hello?” Her raspy voice answered.
“Hey, I went for a hike up at Hermetic Pass and it started storming and I just wanted to let....” electricity buzzed in the air around me.
“What? There is static on the line. Are you o..” the line went dead and my hand felt like it had fallen asleep and was starting to wake up. The pins and needles ran up my arm so fast, frightening me, that I barely noticed the flash of light on the trail next to me.
I didn’t know I had passed out until a couple preteens woke me. I was disoriented. I sat up, looking around me. I recognized the shelter, but the trees didn’t look right. They were taller than I remembered. Had I been struck by lightning? Had that really happened? I looked down at my hands, they looked okay. I breathed in deep, I didn’t feel any pain anywhere. I picked up my phone but the screen remained dark. It was then that I realized that the trail was dry. Like there hadn’t been a storm at all.
“Mom, are you alright?” The boy asked sounding panicked. I nodded. But, something wasn’t right. Did he say mom or ma’am? I looked at him closely. He had my skin tone, eye color and nose. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. This made no sense, I didn’t have any children.
“Mom! What happened? Say something.” He pleaded.
“When are we?” I asked looking from him to the girl.
“What? Mom, are you having a stroke?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Incredulous, I lifted both arms and smiled ridiculously to prove the point. “Now, tell me the year.”
Ignoring my question again, “ You ran ahead of us into *this*,” he pointed up,”and then you fell down.” He looked frightened.
I sighed. He wasn’t helping. I looked to the girl, who seemed older than the boy and who looked like a young version of Johni. I squinted inquisitively. “Will *you* tell me *when* we are?”
“It’s...2031.” She stated innocently. Well, that made some sense as to their ages, if Johni and I had decided to have kids. But, she didn’t want kids, I felt a pang of sadness.
“Okay, help me up.” I reached up my hands. They did their best. It took a moment, for me to feel steady on my feet.
“Here, drink some water, I’m gonna call mom.” The girl said, as she handed me a water bottle. I sipped it, contemplating whether I was dreaming or not. This felt pretty real though.
“Hi! Mom, Norah passed out while we were hiking... “ she paused. “No. Uh, no...she seems..confused. Okay, ya, alright.” She looked at me.
“My mom is coming to pick you up.”
They walked with me down the trail to a bench by the parking area. As I put my hand on the bench I felt a little shock of static electricity. All of the sudden, I was so tired and dizzy. I sat down and closed my eyes, until I heard a car pull up.
When Johni saw me, she looked apprehensive. Like she knew something I didn’t. Which was probably true. Things used to be so simple between us. And now they weren’t, but I wanted them to be. I got in the car.
“Wait! How are the kids getting home?” I said over the sound of the windshield wipers. I looked around trying to see where the two young people had gone and realized I was soaking wet.
Johni handed me a towel. “What kids?” And she looked back up the trail through the windshield and smiled hesitantly. I felt unsettled that she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.
Before I could answer she said, “Actually, speaking of kids, I have something I want to talk to you about...”
I looked at her wide eyed, astonished. I didn’t know how to respond, but I felt like I already knew what she was going to say. Like, I had somehow just had a glimpse of a future possibility. when I looked at my phone the time read 8:20 AM and the date was in the year 2017. And I smiled graciously that, now, the possibility was there.