Erwin Schrödinger’s Blues
No, we’ve plenty of time yet, see? Here, see, I told you. Come on. Don’t worry. Come on, just sit for a second. It’s alright. Come on, please. Just sit down for a minute. No, here. Here, the end of the bed, it’s fine. I told you, it’s fine.
It was just a phone call. I told you. Yes. Yes it was her. Of course it was her. Who do you think it was? No, of course I had to take it. You would have done the same. Of course I did. You were here. You heard. I just told her I was fine and that was it. What? No, it was just something to do with the washing machine. It’s been acting up, that’s all. I said I’d have a look at it before I left and I forgot. What? No, I was picking up that necklace for you if you must know. Yes, thanks. Glad you like it. I told her I’d have a look at the washing machine and I forgot, that’s it. I said I would but I had to go out. So what? So I do it tonight, or tomorrow, or the day after. So what, it’s fine.
Please. Please just sit down will you. Here. Give me your hand. There. That’s fine. Isn’t it? It’s ok. Not a problem. It was just a phone call, just asking when I’d be back. Nothing more. You’d do the same, wouldn’t you? Remember that time, don’t you? Remember that time you didn’t take one, remember? Remember, you told me, and the questions you had when you got home, remember? See. So I had to take it, that’s all. Look. Look, it’s fine, honestly. Please. Please just relax.
I’m the one who panics, remember? Remember, I’m the one when I saw that guy, remember? I’m the one who was shitting himself in the restaurant when I saw him, remember? I’m the one freaking out the whole weekend. You, you were the one telling me it was ok, remember that, remember saying that? You were the one telling me it was fine. You were the one telling me that he didn’t see a thing and even if he did I could explain it all away, remember? And, and weren’t you right? Weren’t you a hundred percent right that time? I don’t know if he ever saw us or not but he never said a word. We bumped into him, him and his wife a week or so after, no, just something on down in the school, and he never blinked, never said a word. You see. You were right. You were right telling me not to worry. And I’m right now. I’m right this time. It’s fine. Honestly it’s fine. I just took a phone call like any other phone call and that’s it, all grand.
Look. Come on. We have plenty of time yet, you see? We have ages left.
We can take a walk if you want? It doesn’t look that bad outside, it looks dry anyway. We can take a walk outside until it’s time to check out. The fresh air will do us good. We’ve been cooped up in here the whole time; just stretch our legs before we have to go. Please. Please, you’ll have me worried next.
We never got a chance to check out the pool. We could if you want? Just grab our gear and head down for a quick dip. What, you didn’t? Ah well, ok, next time.
Anyway. It’s nice here. We should think about it again.
Maybe next time we’ll get out for a walk, or maybe just try the pool.
The brochure for the spa looked good. Don’t you think?
Yes, I know.
Though I won’t have that soup next time.
No, please. We don’t have to go yet. I know. I know. Look, we’ve plenty of time. No look, it’ll only take a minute to check out, I paid for the room up front and paid separately for the meal, all I have to do is pay for that bottle of wine, and they have my card details anyway. The traffic will be light this time of day so we’ll be back at your car in what, half an hour, three quarters, something like that. You’ll be on the road and home by, well by four at the latest, plenty of time. Me? No, not that long, I’m going against the traffic, see. Come on. Just stay here, please.
Why don’t we just lie back for a bit? Not as if we’ll have to make the bed again or anything. No, no, nothing like that, just lie back. Put your head here. There, see? We’re fine, see?
No, don’t think there’s any left. There might be some water, some of the bottles they left last night, over beside the TV, no? Well, ok.
Is it next week you’re at that thing? No I know, you told me. No I was just thinking, I might try. Well I might try, you never know. I know, I know. Still, if I managed to get somewhere nearby you might? I know. We’ll see. Well you could say you have to meet someone, or get home for something. I don’t know. No, I know, still.
No, the week after we’re at that fucking party, Jesus I wish. No, not a chance. I’m half tempted to try the old feeling sick thing, but I used that before, remember? Or maybe something I have to come home early for. Yes, they’ll want it over the whole bloody weekend. No, the party itself is the Friday night, but there’s some of the family that can’t come until the Saturday so the plan is to go to one of the sister’s houses for the Saturday night and have another do there. No, I know. But some of them can’t make the Saturday so the main one is the Friday night. Plus it’s the birthday itself on the Friday so they don’t want to change that and, fuck it I don’t know. I just know I’m told I have to be there with the rest of them so I can’t do a fucking thing about it. I’ll ring you though. I know, I know, but it’d be nice to hear your voice anyway.
No we’ve plenty of time, it’s fine.
Do you ever think?
I mean, well, do you ever think if things were different?
No I don’t mean that. I mean, I mean if it was totally different, everything. Like, like if we never met, or never met when we did, right, and we just passed each other on the street, like that. Would I look at you? Would you look at me? Would there be something there? Does it work like that? I don’t know. But no, not like that. I don’t know. Say it was, say it was, I don’t know.
Say if, like, say I’d done something totally different with my life, right. Say I did something totally different with my life and one day I get a new job, ok, I get a new job and they bring me around the place to meet everyone, alright, they bring me around to meet everyone, say hello, that sort of thing, and there’s you. Say we’re introduced and neither knows the other from Adam, right, and we’re working together. Nothing else different, ok, nothing else but we end up working together. What would happen? Would we? Do you think? Really? I don’t know. Maybe? But think about it. Imagine I just walk in to the canteen at work someday, say, I just walk in with my new job and you’re there eating a sandwich or reading a book. Or you’re chatting to some of your colleagues, just look up and there’s this new lad sitting across the room looking around the place. You’ve never seen him before and he’s just looking around and you kind of catch his eye. Say that, say that happened, imagine that, imagine I look at you and you look at me across the canteen or across the office or wherever. Say that happened, and we didn’t know each other and we’d never seen each other before. Say all that happened. Wonder what would happen?
I know. I know. But, but still. I’m just talking. No, we’ve plenty of time. I do think about it. I don’t know. Stupid, I know. But still.
But say. Say there was no Rachel, right; say there was no Ed, none, no kids, nothing. No, not at all. I’m not being, no, Jesus no. I don’t mean that, no, not that. No. I just mean say they weren’t there, not been born, hadn’t met, whatever, that’s all, no, nothing like that. I don’t know. Say, anyway, say there was no Rachel, no Ed, none of the kids or anything. Say it was just me and just you. Right, just me and just you. Is that your phone? No, must be me, no, not me either. Must be that thing, you know, that thing where you feel the phone vibrate in your pocket and there’s nothing there. I don’t know what they call it. Anyway. Anyway. As I was, where was I? Yes, anyway, say it was just me and just you, alright. Say we meet in that place again, remember? Say we meet, just me and just you, no attachments, no families, no nothing, ok. We meet up in that place, like we did. We talk, like we did. You make that joke, remember, and I spill my drink, remember? Everything happens like it did, everything. Everything down to the last detail except the fact that I didn’t have to head home the next morning and you weren’t meeting up with Ed the following afternoon, or whatever. Say all that, everything, everything the same. I wonder, no, I really do, I wonder?
I don’t know. Maybe, maybe there’s something, I don’t know. Anyway, I’m just talking shite. No, maybe there is? I don’t know what, something. Something that says something works at one time because some other things happened first, or something, that wouldn’t happen otherwise because other things, other somethings happened. No I haven’t a fucking clue what I’m on about now. Very funny, yes, some things do stay the same. Ha bloody ha! No it’s fine, it’s fine, please. Please just stay, just like that, just like you are. It’s grand, honestly. No, it’s fine. We’ve loads of time yet.
I don’t know. It’s something. Something about it all happening and it all has to happen, or something. I don’t know.
I did think about it. No, not that, not like that. One day, one day, right, I was kind of daydreaming. I’ll tell you when it was; remember that time we had to cancel because you told me Ed had done his back in, or his knee or something. Or he’d come off that new bike you were talking about. It was then, something like that. It was then, anyway, and we had to cancel. Anyway I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. The image, no, the image. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Dreaming about it, or something. Anyway. Anyway, you were being introduced around, the new girl, yes, very funny. You’re being introduced around and I’m in the canteen. Funny thing, it’s not the canteen in my place now. I’m sitting at a window looking out across a yard. In my head it’s like that council yard I worked in, years ago. Funnily enough I never really used that canteen but it’s that one anyway. I’m sitting looking out the window and it’s, it’s funny but it’s like a picture I have somewhere of my grandad when he worked, wherever. Anyway, the canteen in the background of the picture looked a little like the canteen in that council yard I used to work, all the same really. The canteen was the same until my Mam cut the picture because it showed my grandad with a fag in his hand. No, I never remember him smoking, must have been donkeys years before I was born. Anyway, anyway I’m sitting there like that having my lunch or whatever and you’re brought in and introduced around. You’re just wearing, I can’t remember. No, I mean I don’t think I ever decided, probably something, like a top and a pair of jeans, like that day we went horse riding. Anyway you’re brought around and I look up and say hello. I never thought much further than that, presume in my head it’s all music and fireworks, some shite like that. Yes, probably like that. But, I don’t know, maybe it’s just that idea, something like that, just wondering how it would all work out.
I don’t know.
I was, I don’t know. No, I’ll tell you what it was. You remember me telling you about that, that bug I had a few weeks ago? Remember? Remember, it was the weekend before we met up, remember I was texting you, worried that I might be sick, worried that I might not be able to make it, remember? Anyway. I had that bug or whatever, and I was sick as a fucking dog all weekend. I mean dying. I was in bits. Didn’t set foot out of the bed all weekend. Couldn’t even hold down water. I don’t know what I picked up or where I got it, but I really felt like I was dying. Anyway, anyway, all I could do was lie in the bed and watch the telly all weekend, and even that was nearly too much for me. What? No she took them to her parents for most of it, thankfully, couldn’t, couldn’t with them around. Drive me bloody mental. Anyway. I end up; don’t know what channel it was on, just whatever station the television was on, I end up watching a marathon of those old Star Trek shows, you know, the original ones, back in the sixties or whatever. I remember watching them repeated as a young lad. Anyway, they’re on, right, every single one, well I think so anyway. Anyway, so I’m watching these and I’m sick as a dog, right, I’m puking up every hour or so and I’m drifting in and out of sleep. I was a fucking mess, ok, and it could have been the one episode or it could have been the whole lot of them. Anyway. Anyway, the only thing I remember, the only storyline I remember is this one where they travel, no, I don’t know, like I said I was sick, they travel into these different universes, dimensions or what have you. They travel into these other dimensions; I think they were dimensions. So they travel into these different dimensions and there’s one of each of them in each of these. Seems it’s this idea that there are all these parallel dimensions, all with the same people in them. All doing the same thing, or nearly the same thing, or something totally different. Anyway it got me thinking, very funny.
No, it got me thinking, I don’t know, but say there’s another dimension or what have you, another one in parallel to this one, and we’re here in the same hotel, or the other version of the same hotel, except we’re married in that one, or we’re just single and together and we fancy a little break in another, or everything is exactly the same except I’m taller, or thinner, or you have blonde hair instead of black. What? No, better black. Any little thing, or that jacket is grey instead of blue and everything else is the same, or we all have three legs or wings or live on the ceiling or whatever.
No, it’s just, I don’t know. I mean sure, sure there are others where we never met, or we did and didn’t hit it off, yeah sure, maybe, maybe, maybe I was late that day we first met and you were gone when I arrived, sure, something like that. Hey, stop giggling there; I’m trying to be serious here. Of course I bloody am. Ha bloody ha!
Anyway, where was I? No it’s like I mean, all the possibilities, all the chances, all the little things, or the big things, that could be different, that could have made all the difference in us being here, being here now. All the chances, the millions or billions or whatever, and we’re here now. Just you, just me, just here, here, now, at this exact moment. I don’t know, it’s like, it’s like.
It’s just, no, I’m fine. Actually could you just, there, perfect, thanks, no it’s just. It’s just, it’s just the idea that of all the millions or billions or whatever of possibilities this is the only one that has us, you and me, here together now. There’s something about that.
No, I know.
But. I know, sure, sure. You’d need to be what’s his name to figure it all out. As I said I was only watching this on bloody Star Trek, what have you, so it could be all bollocks. But still. I don’t know. Something. Something. Maybe it’s just me? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but the idea that in all the billions and billions of whatever they are, in all of them there’s just one, one tiny one where it’s just you and me here right now. Something about that, that idea, that makes me feel, well, I don’t know.
What? No. we’ve ages till we have to go. Sure of it. Here, look, see. Just, just lie here, we’re fine, it’s fine.
We’ve loads of time.
Originally from Leixlip, in County Kildare, Ireland, Colm O’Shea was one of the inaugural winners of the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Competition in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing First Fiction award in 2013. His short fiction has appeared in The Bohemyth, gorse, Visual Verse and 3:AM Magazine.