Welcome to my experiment in public drafting, otherwise known as a serial novel! Find out more about the L.A.O.S. here, including ways to join in the fun, or start from the beginning. Please remember, this is copyrighted material; you may quote a couple of sentences in a review, but otherwise all rights are reserved.
Chapter 2 Part A
“Right,” she said. “So it’s like this. Hand.” She held her hand up between us. I’d never noticed how long and slender her fingers were before – not that I’d had the excuse or opportunity. “Desk.” She laid her hand on the smooth surface of the desk. “Both made of atoms packed together in a dense but regular structure, right?”
I shrugged. “Yeah. And?”
“In theory,” she said, stressing the word far more than normal, “if you aligned the atoms perfectly and were able to make sure that you didn’t lose electrons in the process, and could account for the electro-magnetics going on, you could pass one through the other. Right?”
“Yeah,” I said warily. “I suppose. In theory.”
“So do it,” she said, leaning back.
My eyebrows knitted together. “But I can’t. It’s impossible.”
“No. you just said yourself, it’s theoretically possible.”
“So do it.”
I stared at her for a long moment. “You’re crazy, right? That’s what this is actually all about. Either this is the Insanity Club, or you’re all having a big joke at my expense.” I glanced around the room. Matt and Pip seemed pretty incapable of having a joke full stop, so they were obviously the insanity contingent. Greg and Megan, though? They were capable of anything, and the way Greg was peering intently at me, arms folded over his chest and lips pressed so tight you could barely see them, did nothing to allay my suspicions.
Megan gave an explosive sigh. “Look, I really want you to figure this out on your own. Heaven knows, you’re smart enough. But being smart isn’t enough; you have to believe things are possible, too.” She caught my eye and held it. “You saw me walk through the door.”
Her face gave nothing away, but my stomach flip-flopped. “What do you mean?” I said, unwilling to admit to anything.
“You know what I mean.” Face impassive, gaze unwavering.
I held my own for a second longer, then screwed up my nose. “Oh, all right. I give in. You win. Yes, it’s theoretically possible. No, I seriously doubt anyone can do it. Yes, I’ll try anyway, and if I find out any of you have a video camera hidden somewhere in the room, I swear, I will make your life a misery.” I pressed my hand against the surface of the desk. “Here goes nothing.” I pressed against the shiny melamine-coated wood, heart racing nine to the dozen.
Nothing. I exhaled the breath I hadn’t realised I’d been holding. “There. See? Nothing. It’s just not possible.”
Megan huffed. “Idiot. You’re not really trying.”
“I am!” I protested. “See?” I pressed my hand against the very solid desk until the tips of my fingers went white.
“I don’t mean physically,” she said. “I mean mentally. Up here.” She tapped her temple.
Behind me, Greg snorted. “Oh, just give up, Meegs. He’s not going to get it. He’s been hanging out with the cool kids for five years; he might have some intelligence left in there somewhere, if you say so, but there’s too much attitude in the way.”
Says he, king of arrogance. “Look, shut up, all right? I’ll get it. Just tell me what I’m supposed to be getting.”
Megan studied me, eyes wide. “Are you really sure about this?” she asked eventually. “Because once you’re committed, there’s no going back. This isn’t the kind of thing you can un-do, or un-see.”
Nerves and frustration and anger and impatience warred for control. “Look, I can handle it, okay? I’m not stupid, and my attitude” – I glanced at Greg – “is fine. Just tell me what I’m trying to do, or how it is I’m supposed to do the impossible, or whatever.”
Megan placed her hand on the table next to mine and contemplated it. “It’s about belief, you see,” she said slowly. “Knowing something in your head and knowing it are different.” Her eyes flicked up and found mine. “Sometimes it helps to see it first.”
I was too busy staring into her ocean-blue eyes to notice at first that her hand was disappearing into the desk – and then I noticed, and flinched away.
“Anything’s possible, if you can just figure out how,” she said, still staring wide-eyed at me, almost like she was begging me to believe her.
Slowly, I moved my hand back onto the table next to hers. I swallowed. “I… I believe,” I whispered. I closed my eyes and imagined the atoms in my hand aligning perfectly with the atoms of the desk, imagined the dense structures relaxing and expanding, sinking and meshing into one another until the two were interlocked, meshed – but still separate, still different structures.
My eyes fluttered open and my gaze rested on my hand, only half visible, fingertips fully integrated with the desk. A smile softened the tension in my jaw. I did it.
Amy Laurens (c) 2012
Previous << Return to table of contents >> Next