Excerpt from Descent


“Do you like the tea?” she finally decided to break the silence. For close to half an hour they sat quietly sipping the warm liquid, both absorbed in their own thoughts.

Ray woke from his daydream. Around him the noises from the cash registers, chatter from the customers, and the occasional breeze drifting from the front entrance affirmed what he attempted to question all along.

These noises are real. The stolen glances cast in our direction by the other patrons are real. The tea is real. She is real.

“Excuse me-” he shifted in his chair, “the tea…ah yes, I love it.” He glanced at her and quickly diverted his eyes away. The hypnotizing force of her eyes wanted to reach into his soul, and he resisted it. He needed more time.

“We didn’t say a word for nearly thirty minutes. I thought I lost your interest,” she said, her fingers meeting his forgotten idle hand, which appeared lifeless next to the cup of tea.

He felt her warmth on his skin, as her fingers lingered over his palm for a brief moment. Then she withdrew them but not quickly enough. The time they remained was enough for him to understand her touch. It had been an outreach, a life giving touch. He returned to her eyes. How could he fear them? The impression they created in his mind was so pure, so exact, that he could never mistake it for anything else. No one feared love, and he loved her.

But why? Was this possible? What is she doing to me? How could I be so completely overtaken by admiration for a person I only met less than an hour ago? Does she posses some kind of charm on me, a magical spell?

“Ray?” she called out to him.

“Yes, I’m here. It’s just so bizarre…” his words trailed off. His mind refused to obey a new born need to communicate with her. Instead, it took him on another trip filled with recollections of readings on coincidences, commonality, and chaos.

“Why bizarre?” she asked, after studying his face for several more minutes, allowing him to complete the mental interlude, to forgo the thousands of questions that remained.

A silly awareness, that she could read his mind, called out to him. He returned to her. “I meant our meeting, my thoughts, these feelings-” Was it too soon to share them with her? He blushed.

“You felt it too?” she asked, with the look of amazement, and he sensed a certain kind of satisfaction from her response, a relief. She added, “The infinite stretch of time?”

“Yes,” he replied in disbelief, jolted by her words. “The merging of matter, the disappearance of time and only you and I left…”

She took a sip from the foam cup and after a few seconds asked, “Unbelievable, isn’t it?”

“But what is it? What makes the time slow down like that?”

“It’s both you and I…I think,” she said, without taking her eyes off him. “I know this sounds incomprehensible. I guess the best way to explain it is to call it a wrinkle.”

“A wrinkle? Like that of a fabric?” he asked the question, and at the same time noticed that as he spoke, the same thing occurred again. The noises in the café slowed and then suddenly stopped. People around them stood frozen in space, immovable, stupefied.

“That’s correct. Except it’s a wrinkle in the Space-Time Continuum, and every time we concentrate on it, we stretch it and it slows down everything,” she took another sip from her cup and after swallowing, smiled at him again.

Despite the absurdity of it all, he felt assured. No fear, or pressure, or even confusion. “But…but how’s that possible?”

“This is going to take a while to explain,” she returned. “Do you have any place else to go, seeing time may be of no importance here?”

“There is no other place for me to be now than here,” he replied. “And I can’t think of a better way to spend this moment than to be with you.”

And then she talked. She talked about extreme emotions and how they created a mass that could influence the curvature of space. She explained about the effects of gravity and its relationship to mass, about light and the relative experience of being in it as opposed to chasing it. She expanded upon the awareness of surroundings as the result of consciousness and about consciousness as the result of cognition.

She spoke and he listened, and the more he heard, the more he understood that somehow he already knew everything she said. Somehow every word, every relationship, every theory seemed plucked from his own knowledge and materialized in the form of words by this stranger. Each new thing she said served as an affirmation of the prior existence of this knowledge in his own mind.

Time began churning again unexpectedly. In the mysterious hours of the summer, when sunlight invisibly exchanged places with the light of the afternoon and evening, time rediscovered itself. He forgot about the two o’clock conference call with one of the clients, about the three-thirty application testing session, about the four-thirty seminar on Voice Over IP he’d been planning to attend for nearly a month. The Blackberry’s buzzing from his belt grew tiresome, and he switched off the gadget.