Here’s the last part of The Scientist story! I hope you’ve all liked what had happened so far because I did. I’m actually pretty proud of it because I’ve got some fantastic praises from people about the story. Thanks for the comment, Nour!
Speaking of which, I’ve decided on a song to write about for the next story. The song will be… “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey! Let’s save the hate or like comments on the song for later – I love this song! Don’t question me! I’ve already made a story outline as soon as I’ve finished listening to the song for the first time. The song is really… nostalgic. To me, it’s like a childhood love going unnoticed and other bits in between. Okay, I’m not giving out anymore sneak peeks other than that! And for those who haven’t heard the song, I think you should, unless you prefer upbeat club music, because this song’s more for romantic slow dance. A-nd I found out I’m such a girl.
So enjoy the story and see you all on my next story!
(This story was influenced by Coldplay’s song of the same name.)
The Multiverse Theory. According to us, there is the probability of existing universes, alternate dimensions and realities which can only be accessed through certain means. The birth of each new universe is the Butterfly Effect; this is when a certain point in life has numerous possibilities, and each choice that can be made creates a new possibility, thus creating a new Life Line.
Even before the first human existed, way before anything happens; lots of possibilities are being made. Like a reality in which the Big Bang never occurred, only a vast emptiness. Or a reality in which the earth’s technology today is more advanced – or more backwards. Or maybe it’s simpler than that; maybe there are different people, or beings, living in the same place as we are but in a different dimension – that’s why we could never meet each other though we could feel their presence very faintly, like how people claim to see dark shadows they call ghosts or hear spontaneous voices, or when they feel invisible fingers graze lightly against their skin. Maybe there’s also the same people in different realities, like a different me living a completely different life with different people.
These kinds of speculations keeps me thinking about many things, day or night, asleep or awake, or whenever I do something, basically. During my spare time, I love looking at the sky, night or day, and just wonder if the me’s in other realities are also doing this, too. Am I wondering if there is the existence of life in unknown worlds? Or am I just living my life in an endless loop? Do I think of the millions of other stars in the night sky as millions of other suns, a part of another solar system far, far away? Or do I just see it as just another pretty decoration consisting of unimaginable but insignificant power? I am not the only who does this, I found out. Tiff and Bill would sometimes join me watch clouds migrating and stars dancing. They would share their ideas and beliefs, and those things would be the next topic for our multiverse debate.
No one had ever won. The argument had never finished.
* * *
12:01, Sunday, 21st October XX12
Though the days had cooled down, the dim sun still feels like it’s burning holes in my skin. I decided to not wear long sleeves today, just a plain black tee, jeans and my usual sneakers; the picnic would be my first time to socialise with close friends (you know who they are) since forever. Of course I want to look casual, as relaxed as I can. But I can’t stop the nervous sweat raining down my forehead, or the fact that my heart is like an enraged gorilla in a cage beneath my chest. My palms are getting slick and sweaty no matter how much I wipe them on my lap. The people on the bus noticed my discomfort and so everyone tried their best to not sit next to me. Huh, so much for redemption.
Talking with Bill was both comforting and uncomfortable, especially when he demanded to have me apologise to everyone who I had given a rough time. Zeke, according to Bill, was top of my list, then Hilda, and last was Francis. Zeke looked at me like I was possessed but he brushed off my apology after he recovered. “It’s good you still have a soul. Thought you’ll turn ginger, soon!” Hilda was more emotional and touchy. She gave me a killing hug for ten minutes straight, sobbing into my ear and spouting nonsense. Francis was… accepting? I don’t know, because he just nodded and gets on with whatever he was doing. I think I should give him something to express my utmost gratitude, but he’s never one for presents. He would always give his Christmas presents to the street urchins and then claim that his son took them with him to the city. For one, he doesn’t have a son – his daughter lives upstairs in the comic shop but her work prevents her from seeing us often. The only times I’ve seen her were in rare evenings, and I didn’t know who she was until we rummaged through Francis’s things.
Then, there was a small celebratory dinner in Hilda’s bar (she closed the bar early just for it). There were assortments of meals of different categories, as well as beverages, alcoholic or not, of different qualities – but Hilda’s bar is known for its excellent quality of food and drinks, so most of the things on the table were the best in town. The food was excellent, yes, but the atmosphere was what you’d call “borderline awkward”. Basically, people tried to talk about something fun but the conversation would end quickly, ending in an eternity of silence until a hero would light another candle. The effort itself was touching, if not fruitless. I appreciated their efforts – I just hope it won’t be like that in the picnic.
The plan was to meet up with Bill in front of the Lafayette Mansion, for what I know not. Maybe he wants to talk while we walk to the park, you know, reminisce about all sorts of things. Let’s hope it Bill won’t be as awkward as he was at the dinner.
The Lafayette Mansion looked more haggard than it was in back XX05. The old tree near the second floor bedroom isn’t there anymore, and there are troops of weeds scattered in the yards. Newspapers had been taped from inside of the house, while wooden planks are nailed on the front door, with a notice hastily written on paper stuck on the pile of woods. The Lafayette Mansion was once a magnificent beauty, home of the most beloved people around: the Lafayettes. However, since their daughter’s death not long ago, the merry family’s lives went downhill horribly. If I have the chance to meet one of them, I would do anything to make them feel better. I would even clean the whole sewage system from our town to the next if they would just accept my wholehearted apology.
Standing in front of the rusted gate, I examine the fallen beauty while replaying some scenes that happened around or in the house. I see three children – two boys and a girl – huddled under an ancient tree, while the house lady sits by the front door with her baby, looking over the children with the most loving hazel eyes I’ve ever seen. The father is grilling some meat on the griller with an overly focused expression on his face; brows knitted together, lips in a firm thin line, face pink with heat. Once he’s finished scooping the meat onto a large plate, he calls out to the children, who run excitedly over, anticipation gleaming in their eyes. The Lafayettes don’t throw lavish parties like how many rich people do – they prefer gathering close relatives and friends for a small barbeque get together in their lawn. They were also known for the family’s special barbeque sauce, and would refuse to spill the secret recipe to anyone. Even now, I can still faintly taste the mouth-watering sauce and the juicy meat the Lafayettes would get from their farmer friend.
“I want steak…” I say dreamily, smiling at the familiar comment.
“I like the sausages.” I whip my head to see Bill standing next to me, with his usual bowler hat and coat. He turns to me and smiles. “Sounds familiar?”
“Everything’s familiar,” I respond, “Well, most of it, I guess. The tree’s gone, now.”
“They cut it down three years ago because some kids tried to break into the house to prove some urban legend.”
“That’s mean… The kids, I mean,” I add.
“Yeah…” After a few moments of comfortable silence, Bill says “Let’s get going. I want to take you somewhere.”
I merely agree and follow Bill away from the mansion. It was quiet, aside from a few passing cars and some pedestrians, but it wasn’t that unsettling. But I don’t really like silence. Whenever I’m alone, I would always turn on the radio so I can hear someone talking or the like, because I can’t stand not hearing someone talk for more than a minute. So I decide to start a conversation. “It’s not that cold, you know. What’s with the coat?”
“I just… like it? I’m not sure. I feel snug in it,” replies Bill.
“You don’t actually wear that in the summer, do you? Because you’ll just drench the thing and all –”
“What?! No! Eww! I like to wear coats but not that far!” Billy laughs. We chuckled for some time before there’s a pause. Then Bill says “You know that package I gave you?”
“Hmm? Yeah. The scrapbook, right?”
“Yeah. I only got it a week before I gave it to you. When I opened it, I couldn’t stop raving for a whole week. I thought it wasn’t fair for me to be the only one who’s seen it, so I decided to give it to you; Hilda hasn’t even seen it yet.”
“Cheater,” I say simply. It still sting to talk about these kinds of things but at least the pain had dulled a considerable amount compared to before. “So should I give it to her?”
“Up to you. I think it’ll be good if you keep it, though.”
“Gee, that’s touching. Since when were you a romantic novelist?”
“Since the day I found you beaten half to death in the alley near our school.”
“… I hate you,” I mock snarl.
“The feeling’s mutual,” Bill smirks. He then suddenly halts and leads me to a turn. “It’s over here,” he mumbles.
I haven’t been around this part of the town so I’m not sure to where Bill’s leading me. Bit by bit, the scenery looks more melancholic, like how it looks like when the protagonist in a romance movie walks down a tunnel of orange leaves, with coat and scarf and distant look while the sad music plays in the background. Sometimes there’s a voice over too, the protagonist’s thoughts completely unrelated to the scene he’s in. It was like that, except most of the trees had grown bald and most of their hair had been trampled on or swept away by either the wind or the street cleaners.
There are a few people going past us, some look gloomy while some look like they’ve visited an old friend, but all of them has some kind of sad satisfaction of some kind, like they know they’ve lost something and will never get it back, but you just keep on thinking about it and –
I know this place.
“Oh.” I stop abruptly and look at Bill like my mind had just been blown into pieces.
Bill gives a knowing look and smiles a tad bit sadly, “I know it must be hurting to finally realise. It will hurt more once you’ve seen her; trust me, it still does now.”
I nod slowly and resume walking, but in a much slower pace than before. “How long have you been seeing her?”
“Since the funeral, actually. I ran into her family once in a while. I tried to talk but it’s like I don’t even exist. Hey, don’t start hating yourself now! We’ve talked about this already,” Billy tried to give a reassuring laugh. It worked, a bit. I still feel nervous.
There are rows of graves everywhere. Of course – it’s a graveyard after all. Most of the people here are strangers to me, but I think some were Tiff’s acquaintances or even neighbours. Some have fresh flowers placed in front of the tombstone, while some were simply kept clean. To my right is the church which watches over the dead all day, all year. The gothic building doesn’t help lift the mood up, even the stained glass windows look eerie.
Bill and I walk in silence through the grave, either for respect or just nervousness. For me it’s the latter. I’m totally not prepared for this at all. I don’t even have flowers! And Bill certainly doesn’t! Isn’t it common courtesy to bring flowers to the dead when we visit? Now that I think about it, why do they do it in the first place? Gah, get out! I need to focus on how to calm down! Wait, wasn’t I calming down?!
“Stop being so panicky,” Bill suddenly says. It’s like he’s secretly a telepath or something. “Also, you’ve never actually come here, right?”
“No. I only know that this is a graveyard and it’s only my guess that it would be where Tiff will be. And my guess is right.”
Bill snorts, “Of course it’ll be Tiff. Whose grave do you think I’ll take you to?”
“Umm… Anthony Starling?”
“He’s buried in Quebec, Canada.”
“Yeah, oh. So much for a fanboy.” We walk some more before Bill stops in front of a carefully kept tombstone. There’s a flower bouquet in front of it, and on the tombstone just above it is written:
“TIFFANY CAROLYN LAFAYETTE
“XW83 – XX05”
I’m presuming the flowers are from Bill. So that’s why we don’t have flowers.
“Hey, Tiff,” Bill greets Tiffany, “I brought Axel along, just like what I told you. Believe it or not, he’s been sulking for seven years non-stop. You should’ve seen how grumpy he was.”
“Don’t say that!” I say, “I haven’t sulking! I was just… sad? I don’t know!”
“Anyway,” Bill continues, “we’re going to go to Hilda’s picnic in a while so this is going to be rather short. If Axel hadn’t been such an idiot, he would’ve visited you more often.” My next remark was cut off as Bill continues talking. “I gave him the box. I read it first, though. Now I think you’re the idiot because you didn’t tell us anything to begin with. Now I’m stuck looking like Freddy Krueger! But the point is, we will always visit you according to my visiting schedule, because Axel is just that untrustworthy. Right, Axel? You’re going to come with me to visit Tiff?”
“Yeah, of course,” my response was immediate, “I will. I will even ditch whatever I’m working on to just come here, even if for just a second, I’ll at least say a word or two. If I can, I want to stay here; you know, get a house nearby so I can see you often and stuff. Maybe I should get a job so I can get the money. Oh, the thing! The debate!” I’m strangely very excited about this. “I have a comeback for that statement you said last time! You said that there’s one form of rewriting the past, right? Well, there’s actually three!
“There’s the loop history; say, when you travel back in time to kill Captain Maverick so he will never exist and then replace the baby with another baby, that replaced baby will still grow up to be Captain Maverick, because he’s growing up in the same environment as the supposed Captain Maverick. This means that travelling back in time will just satisfy the Life Line. The second is the permanent change; this is when you travel back in time to kill, say, your grandfather so you will never exist. The timeline where you exist will be erased and replaced with a new one where you don’t. However, if you were never born, you will have never killed your grandfather, so you will still exist but in another timeline where you didn’t exist and didn’t kill your grandfather. Okay, so paradoxes are very confusing…
“Third is the one we like the most: the Multiverse Theory. According to us, there is the probability of existing universes, alternate dimensions and realities which can only be accessed through certain means. The birth of each new universe is the Butterfly Effect; this is when a certain point in life has numerous possibilities, and each choice that can be made creates a new possibility, thus creating a new Life Line.
“Even before the first human existed, way before anything happens; lots of possibilities are being made. Like a reality in which the Big Bang never occurred, only a vast emptiness. Or a reality in which the earth’s technology today is more advanced – or more backwards. Or maybe it’s simpler than that; maybe there are different people, or beings, living in the same place as we are but in a different dimension – that’s why we could never meet each other though we could feel their presence very faintly, like how people claim to see dark shadows they call ghosts or hear spontaneous voices, or when they feel invisible fingers graze lightly against their skin. Maybe there’s also the same people in different realities, like a different me living a completely different life with different people.
“And maybe there’s a Tiffany that’s still alive…” I trail off, not wanting to go any further. But I want to talk to her, so I simply change the subject. “There’s still… no winner in this debate.”
“Yeah. I think this topic is cursed or something,” Bill comments.
“So I guess we’ll be continuing this?” Bill and I look at each other, then at Tiffany, then back at each other, grinning, “Yeah, we’ll continue it!”
So maybe I can’t live without Tiffany’s existence. Like they say, the moon cannot shine without the sun. But I’ll accept that she won’t come back. I won’t be able to feel her presence as string as before, but I’ll always know that she’s watching over us. In the autumn breeze, in the flowing river, in the warm sunlight embrace, she’s always there. Even though she’s not here, I can always have a friend who’s waiting for me to go to her. Knowing Tiffany, she’ll want me to live my life to the fullest, and I’ll do just that. I’ll learn to will away the pain in me and be with her as frequently as I can.
And weirdly enough, when we’re on our way to Hilda’s picnic, we bump into a walking pile of books. After apologising for an infinite amount of time, the three of us gather the books hurriedly. Coincidentally, I find a book by Anthony Starling and it was –
“Oh my gosh! This is the unpublished book by Anthony Starling!” I exclaim.
“What? Oh, yeah. I got that on a garage sale. I can’t believe they would sell something as awesome as that, and at a low price, too!” The girl has raven locks that are pulled up into a messy bun, curious green eyes and a smile like the Cheshire cat, taunting and mischievous. “You’re a fan? Never knew that guy has that many – though I was the only one. Wanna borrow it? I haven’t checked it yet.”
“Wait, you’re serious?”
“Only if you give me a great reward.”
The girl gets up, her books piled like a tower, “I should get a reward for being kind enough to hand you a brilliant book, right? So for your homework, you’ll have to get me a promising reward before laying a finger on my book.” What the – When did she get so cocky?! I know it! Her smile is so disturbing… and addictive? “And for your information, I work at that coffee shop near the bookshop, if you want to find me.” With that, the girl walks haughtily away, like a satisfied cat after a tasty meal.
“Okay, but what’s your name?”
The girl turns back and smirked, “Charlotte. They call me Lottie, though.”
I watch her walk away and only come back to reality after Bill smack me on my head. He raises an eyebrow in question, smirk tugging at his lips, “That quick? You weren’t even interested in Tiff until three years later!”
I laugh, turn to watch Lottie’s retreating form and then walk towards the park with Bill. “Dunno. Maybe Cupid’s been shooting arrows even in October.”
That was 13:20.