Indecision

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: April 25, 2018

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Submitted: April 25, 2018

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As the car slowly pulled up to the driveway, Phoebe sat in her chair with a book. When she heard the knock at the door she rushed out of her room to see who it was. Her feet slid against the soft carpet as she quickly approached the end of the hallway. Phoebe’s mother, Sophia was kneeling before two privates at the door holding a tri-fold American flag. One of the privates knelt beside Sophia and rubbed her shoulder as she wept.
“I’m so sorry for your loss, Mrs. Carlyle,” the soldier said, somberly. However, Sophia couldn’t bring herself to say anything, not after she was just informed her only son had been killed. Phoebe saw as each tear of her mothers fell on to their Russian rug that had been passed down from her ancestors. She could hear the drops as clear as the weeps from her mother. Phoebe didn’t know what to feel, seeing her mother cry like that was something she hadn’t seen in a very long time, not since Phoebe’s grandfather died. At that moment, crying didn’t seem to make sense.
Phoebe was about to turn 18 and already knew where she was going to college. She wanted to be a quantum physicist and got accepted to many prestigious schools. But her sights were set on one school, in particular, MIT. Phoebe had gone to visit relatives in Massachusetts and fell in love with its rich history and beautiful landscape. Phoebe was a very smart, young girl and could do anything she set her mind on. When Phoebe learned of Shr?dinger and his famous thought-experiment, she was stricken with fascination and knew what she wanted to pursue. She loved the experiment Shr?dinger’s cat so much that she even named her cat, Erwin, after him. For the readers who aren’t aware of the experiment or don’t really understand the meaning, the idea was that a cat is, hypothetically, put in a box. Later, before you open the box, there are two universes in which that box can contain, one where the cat is alive and the other where it is dead. This thought-experiment is so famous because it brings up a fundamental idea behind quantum mechanics; there are multiple universes and branching possibilities. 
 
As Phoebe watched her mother cry, she thought about another universe where instead of the two soldiers pulling up to the driveway, it was her father or the mailman. Just changing the car and the people inside it would have made a drastic change in Phoebe’s life and her family’s. However, she wasn’t living in the universe where her father pulled up in their driveway after work instead of the two bad-news-bearing soldiers. This is when a tear finally rolled down Phoebe’s red cheek and splashed on to the carpet beneath her feet. 
When the soldiers finally left and the house was $now occupied by Phoebe and her mother who sat soberly at their dinner table.
“Why my little Jackson? Why him? He did nothing wrong apart from joining that damned military.” Phoebe’s mother said, almost incoherently, choking with grief.
Phoebe held her mother’s hand, caressing it and feeling all the bones and veins beneath the cracked skin. Phoebe thought about another universe where her brother had instead come home from the war, greeting his family with a giant grin and open arms. She didn’t even know how her brother had died.
 
In this universe, the one that Phoebe is living, it is 2003 and the Cold War never ended. There was never a Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev or INF to end the madness... yet. The thing about universes is that there are so many branching possibilities and decision-making in life. In the universe we know we figured out how mad the nuclear arms race was, literally MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). In Phoebe’s universe, we still fight over territory like dogs. This is where Jackson Carlyle met his fate, stationed in South America and fighting back the militia. Phoebe used to tell Jackson how foolish the war really was because she was keen on seeing the truth in things. However, as Phoebe grew older, she realized that universe decided her path. So she pursued quantum physics like so many other great scientists did when war and destruction were relevant. Like Einstein, Phoebe was interested in being a theoretical physicist and use that knowledge to better the world rather than destroy it.
“The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.”
-Albert Einstein
 
Phoebe knew really why her brother died but she thought the details on how were irrelevant. What was relevant then and there was that her family was now in massive turmoil. The clock rolls forward to see Phoebe when she is almost 23, five years later and studying at MIT. Phoebe remembers that day when the soldiers came home with the flag in their hands and her crying mother. Such a tragic event would have brought much more change but she knew some of the branching possibilities that could have had. The day after she could have found her mother hung by a noose or her father packing up and leaving but instead, they grieved over their beloved son and brother. It took a lot of time and Phoebe doubts that they have moved on from it. When it was time to go to college, Phoebe saw happiness in their eyes. They found solace in that their daughter would grow up to change something and influence people’s hearts in some way. They could be right but you never know and Phoebe sure didn’t know how much she could change at that time. Now, Phoebe is confident in her studies and is still headstrong with her major. 
Being the now much more confident young women, she was always being asked on dates from other male colleagues. She would usually turn them down or if one of them offered coffee she would humor them. Her studies took up so much of her time and in her downtime, she enjoyed the time she had with a good book or maybe a night with her friends. Maybe down the line, she would find someone to tolerate her little quirks and alone time. Life for Phoebe right now was too busy. That still didn’t matter to the different evils that lurk in the world. In Phoebe’s world, the danger was approaching, and she felt prepared whatever the universe had in store. After a long study session in the library with some colleagues, Phoebe waved her friend's goodnight and walked herself back home. One of her friends, Will, ran after her to try and walk her home.
 
“Hey, Phoebe wait up,” he said sliding on the icy sidewalk.
“Oh, what’s up, Will?”
“Just thought you might like some company,” Will said with a smirk.
“You’re sweet but you aren’t going to be too cold to walk me all the way home?”
“Well yeah but consider it a thanks for finally helping me understand the complex wave function.” They both laughed.
“Well, what are friends for after all?” Phoebe said.
“Right, and you always seem to understand these things. You know I was actually hoping to be more than just friends.”
“You’re really nice, Will but I’m afraid you wouldn’t want me as a girlfriend. I don’t have the time right now. I mean you know how hard this stuff can be,” Phoebe said with a giggle.
“You’re right, this shit is hard.” They both let out a laugh. “But you know it doesn’t find have an all-out relationship. It’s just I really find you irresistible, Phoebe.” Will said as he brushed his hand across her hand. Phoebe slowly pulled her hand away and put it on his arm.
“I’m sorry, Will. I just can’t right now in my life. Things are trying already.”
After that, they both walked quietly for a while with some awkwardness in the air. 
“Why are you such a fuckin’ tease?”
“Excuse me?” Phoebe said as she turned to face Will she was met with his hand across her face. She screamed as she fell to the ground, Will quickly pounced on top of her.
“I can’t believe you could just insult me like that after I spill my guts out to you.”
Phoebe screamed as she tried to get him off and move his hand away from her mouth. Then she managed to get her leg under his and she kicked with all the might in her body, straight for his groin. 
“You bitch!” Will screamed in pain as he rolled over on to the snow, incapacitated.
 
Phoebe got herself up and ran as fast as she could back home. Tears streaming down her face and weeping when she opened the door. One of her friends actually attacked her. She thought about the deciding moment of their conversation, the one where Will professed his infatuation and she rejected him. What if she said yes to his advances? What if she said no? Phoebe had weighed out the possibilities in her head and rolled the dice. There certainly could have been a universe where Phoebe and Will could have just walked home and lived on as friends.
Such a traumatic occurrence caused some discourse in Phoebe’s already difficult life. However, that didn’t stop Phoebe from being the confident and independent individual that she was. Moving forward another 5 years on her 28th birthday, she is reminded back to her frightful event back in college. She overhears her father talking about a friend almost being put in jail. When Phoebe reported William Myers about his assault on her. He was immediately expelled from school and charged with assault and battery. Phoebe was always on close watch after that and keeping her guard up. One of her close friends, Ava, decided to move in with her and always walk her home safe. Phoebe is still good friends with Ava today, in fact, they are both working on their graduates together. Ava even helped make the cake as she set it down in front of Phoebe. Her two parents sat beside Phoebe with smiles on their faces. Phoebe looked down at the beautiful coconut cream cake with the two candles lit on both ends. I wish I knew my purpose in this universe, Phoebe wished as she blew out the candles. 
 
Phoebe is like everyone else, a human being seeking their place in the universe. How can we know in the present moment? We see what our past endeavors have brought us and reflect but we never know for sure what our future holds. We could end up being something great but what is a great life without a sense of purpose? Real intent and meaning in our lives is something humans have always cherished and for most that looks like a family. This is where Phoebe doesn’t relate to everyone else because she doesn’t see herself in that life and it meaning much to her. Going even further forward in time, to the most eventful day of Phoebe’s life to date, 6 years later.
Now an esteemed theoretical physicist with a small family. Working at a government security complex in Livermore, California. As Phoebe walked into one of the nuclear fission labs she remembered that feeling of apathy in the universe. She knew she would marry a man and have kids at some point whom she loved very dearly. Phoebe just wanted more than that. There had to be more the world had in store for her. She slipped into the lab and hopped onto her computer to override the security firewall for the launch access. Not even the strongest security America had to offer was enough to stop the brilliant mind of Phoebe Carlyle. She had dedicated her whole life to protecting the world from certain destruction so she had the power to destroy too. At the point where she was only a key-click away from blowing up half the county. She thought about what she was doing and anyone would assume Phoebe was going mad. Phoebe knew this had to be the most eventful decision of her entire life. She got a rush just thinking how much the universe weighed so tremendously on the push of a button. The universe is what you make of it. Some things are decided from the start and make sense but a human mind has great potential and all the decisions the species make as a society. In Phoebe’s case, it could be just a singular factor, her. Whether she presses the key or not, the universe will change.


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