String Physics:

            He stood on his porch, the same one he had gone through a thousand times. It was a wide porch with the door in the center of the wall. On either side of it were a pair of double windows, if he stood in front of one set of them he could look directly into his living room. If he looked at the windows on the other side he would be peeking into the living room of his neighbor. It was a common building design for apartment buildings. He reached for the door but stopped quickly.

It looked the same, it had the same chipped white paint, the same dull green screen in the center of it, and the same tear in the screen near the door handle. He remembered it because he had rearranged the screen himself by putting his hand through it instead of grabbing the handle. It hadn’t been hard, the staples that were supposed to hold it in place were red with rust, and half of them had missed the screen with both tangs. It hadn’t required much of an effort to tear it out of place. Not that he had tried to alter it, it just happened.

The difficulty now was that there appeared to be two of the same doors. He closed one eye and looked to his left. The door stood before him, the green screen inside the white door, with the same torn screen.

He switched eyes and found a door on the right side, where it had always stood. The problem was, he didn’t know which one to go through. He decided to close both eyes, then stumbled forward. Using both hands he reached out and searched for something to pull against. His hand grasped the handle and pulled it towards him.

“I knew where I was going.” He mumbled o himself, aware that there wasn’t anyone next to him, or behind him. He stepped through the door and left it open behind him, not able to twist around without falling. It was easier to just leave it be, without tampering with it. Besides it escaped from his memory just as soon as he had stepped through it.

Just as the door had presented a visual difficulty on the other side of the door, he was faced with another one now that he was inside. As there had been two doors, now it seemed that there was also a second person in the room. He was the other man in the corner of his eye and turned towards it.

“How stupid!” he related to himself as he looked directly into a wall mirror on his left side. He believed everything was back to normal, noting that the large mirror had always been there since he had moved in.

He stumbled slightly then, grabbed the handle of the open door and tried to keep his legs straightened. Looking directly into the mirror, he was shocked at his appearance, or rather, the lack of it. He could see the living room behind him, the couch, a couple of well beaten, upholstered chairs, and a low coffee table that he had smacked his shins on more than one occasion. He momentarily felt sorry for himself and his drinking problem. It was beginning to affect his sanity, or at the very least, his vision.

Closing his eyes, squeezing them together for a moment, he opened them again as he faced his living room. The sofa was still there, backed up against the wall with the window that opened to the front porch where he had just been. The two chairs faced it at angles from the other side of the coffee table. Everything was just where it should be, but somehow different. It wasn’t quite clear to him what it was.

He looked up higher and then lower, finding the frame of a mirror all around the view of his living room. It was the same as the one on his left side, the one that he had just been looking through only a second ago.  At least he thought it was a second ago, suddenly he wasn’t sure. Just as in the mirror on the left, he wasn’t standing in the middle of the mirror where he should be.

The handle of the door was still in his hand, the door held perpendicular to the wall as though someone was holding it in place. He tried to move it as he pivoted once again, but it stayed in place despite his leaning on it with each turn he made back and forth.

As he looked to his right, he thought he might have seen himself on his left, but turning to the mirror on that side, the image disappeared. The same thing happened when he turned to the right, looking into the mirror and seeing his living room behind him. He realized that it shouldn’t be in the mirror, nor should the mirror be on his right side when he came through the door.

No matter how many times he tried, he couldn’t catch up to the reflection catching the corner of his eye, but it kept re-occurring to him with every turn of his head. But he could never see the ‘other’ him, and the same apartment was always there, just backwards. He should be looking into his living room when he looked to his right, and into the mirror on the wall dividing his apartment from that of his neighbor.

He knew he wasn’t that drunk, just a little fuzzy, but he was getting very nervous about his lack of vision. Even in his most sorry state he had never had this problem. In fact, it seemed like he was regaining his senses as he tried to remedy or resolve what he couldn’t understand.

Finally he closed his eyes and turned around completely, intending to go out the door and escape from this odd bit of double vision he was experiencing. It wasn’t even Déjà vu, there was no sense of doing the same thing over and over again, just different perspectives with each direction he looked in.

He opened his eyes to stare at the end of the ajar door. It remained mysteriously exactly perpendicular to the wall. He pushed on it but it refused to move either way. As he pushed it one direction, the corner of his eye caught a reflection of himself on the mirror slightly behind him, always opposite the direction he had pushed on the door. As before, looking directly into the mirror caused his image to disappear completely.

Frustrated, he happened to look down and saw a piece of thick string caught under the bottom of the door. The building was older, and he thought that surely such a little thin string couldn’t be holding the door in place, or rather, out of place.

Squatting, he used a couple of fingers to grasp the string. The first attempt ended in the string falling apart like an over-soaked noodle;  it broke and disappeared when he tried to grab it. He moved up and took it in his fingers once again. This time it broke as soon as he pulled on it just slightly. He threw the tiny piece to the floor. He watched it as it stuck to the wall below the bottom edge of the mirror instead of bouncing off. Another piece of string suddenly appeared on the wall on the opposite side of him, just below the mirror, just as on the first one. It appeared almost simultaneously, much quicker than his eye could see it.

Finally he took the string very close to the bottom of the door. This time it held and he pulled on it gently. Increasing the amount he pulled in it, it straightened out until it was stiff and straining. Particles flew in every direction as it twisted and snapped with the pressure pulling on its two ends. Suddenly he heard a click as the string broke.

His hand stung from the broken string hitting him when it broke. He shook off the pain, and looked to see if it had created a welt where the nylon string had slid across the skin. Looking over his shoulder he saw the lamp over his head as he laid in his bed. He wondered how he was going to sleep now that the light couldn’t be turned off.

At least when he looked to either side of him the bedroom was just as he remembered it when he had climbed into bed. Nothing flashed in the corner of his eyes, and nothing was missing from any mirror images. His universe had returned to a single viewpoint. He rolled over while mumbling to himself. “I have to stop reading Physics books before going to bed.”

Barbara Blackcinder


About Barbara Blackcinder

I am a poet/writer with a need for words. There are so many out there that I haven't used yet. They define all reality and mine when you read those from me.
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