Quantum Tunneling to the Bright Radiance of Peace
The wormhole lives among us, and its impact on the people most in need can be spectacular.
Teresa Berkowitz is a writer and poet from Portland, Maine. She grew up in a family of storytellers. She believes that the greatest truths can be found in fiction and real life can be strangely surreal and dramatic.
She has previously contributed to Soft Star Magazine. Her work has been published in literary journals and anthologies.
Teresa is founder and editor of TangledLocksJournal.com, an online literary journal. She is committed to amplifying writers’ voices in social media to enhance personal expression and impact positive change. You can connect with her on Twitter at @tangledlockslit or @teresaberkowitz.
I walk the halls smelling antiseptics and illness. At 2AM there is a softness to everything. Dull, flickering panel lights, urgent whispers, treatment teams responding to changing heart rhythm or drops in blood pressure. 2AM is not the hour of broken arms from sliding into first base. It is the hour of car accidents and crises.
The nurses and doctors here excel at the type of trauma that is stabilized by sewing up lacerations and administering pharmaceuticals. Their patients sleep between check-ins in dimmed rooms, their bodies adorned with thin, colored wires that connect them to monitors.
The people I am here for have different injuries. These patients do not rest. They sit in brightly lit rooms, agitated and inconsolable. They buzz for help for small things, or so it seems. They exhaust the medical staff because what they need is impossible for them to provide. When I arrive at the unit, the ER team is relieved to turn over their psychiatric patients to me.
They see me as a disheveled, slightly absent-minded woman of an indeterminate age. My badge says social worker, but I am something different. I am the wormhole that scientists have theorized about for decades. It would shock the astrophysicists who point their sensors to the heavens to find out that I have been here all along — sentient, powerful, and meddling in the lives of humans. Hidden beneath my pilled and baggy handknit sweater is a gateway to multiple universes and moments in time. My hair is cosmic strands, infinitely long yet only one proton in diameter. They are a glorious, true black that connects time, space, and dimension and let no light escape. Along these strands, beings move faster than light. You would think that they are too long to carry, but their near one dimensionality allows me to wind them up and secure the strands up in a majestic messy bun on the top of my head.
Humans have anthropomorphized me, many times as an old man. Lately, I have chosen this manifestation as a distracted woman healer, but I have taken many forms ranging from fierce and powerful warriors to a mischievous elephant. I enjoy my time with humans. Though you fight it, you are capable of divine kindness. I have seen a harried mother stop to buy breakfast for an unhoused man and making sure to get his order exactly right. I have seen a father give his son an extra portion of soup even though his own stomach aches with hunger. I have seen the young people arm-in-arm resisting the oppression of others.
I am in many places at once. You are not alone. You have family across all known and unknown realities. Brothers, sisters, cousins. Some carbon-based, some silicon based. Some are made of photons. There are so many dimensions, universes, and planes that I would love to show you. You would be filled with wonder. Yet you are not ready to take the journey through space and time. You still have much to learn, for in spite of your capacity for kindness, you try to destroy that which you do not understand. Occasionally, I make exceptions and let a human travel along the strands at faster than light speeds to another place and time. But only occasionally.
The hospital is a good place to find people in need. I lift my badge to the security guard, and he buzzes me in. I shuffle down the wide hall lined with gurneys and wheelchairs to the nurse’s station.
“Anything I can do?”
The nurse’s smile tells me yes. “We have a young woman we are watching very closely tonight. She’s injured but something more is going on.” She hands me her file. Instantly, I see more than what is written on the patient history. The broken bones. The self-harm. I lift the sheet to appear to be reading. A loud buzz breaks through the background sounds. “That’s her again. It’s nonstop.”
“I’ll take care of her,” I say as I walk to the patient’s room. I can hear her weeping before I reach the threshold. I tap on the door. “May I come in?” She mumbles something, and I enter the room and pull up a chair next to her. She doesn’t even look my way.
“It’s a waste of your time.” I knew she means ‘I’m a waste of your time.’ I can see all the people who treated her that way. People who should have loved her. People who should have helped.
“I don’t think this is a waste of my time.”
The green-blue overhead light highlights new bruises and old scars. New wounds criss-cross her arms. She slips her hands under the stiff hospital sheet. I see so many hospitalizations but one in particular comes into focus.
“You have been here so many times.”
She turns my way. “Look, I can tell you mean well but no one has ever been able to help.”
“You are so kind to others. You deserve that kind of kindness.”
“Do you know how many social workers I have cried to? How many kept sending me back?”
“That was wrong. Someone should have helped.” I inch closer and put my arm on her shoulders. “You can be your own helper.”
She leans in like a child. I reach up with my other hand and pull the ornate Babylonian gold hair comb that keeps the chaos at bay, letting the cosmic strands fan out into galactic superclusters. She tunnels back through the barriers of time, not as a child but as an adult. She is quantum, one being in two places at one time: here with me and in another emergency room twenty years ago. In the other superposition, she is advocating for the child. She reports the abuse and ensures that the child will not fall through the cracks.
Things are changing here. I feel it working. The instance of her that I am holding shivers and stops sobbing and releases into a trillion photons. Light so bright that, for a nanosecond, it does not get absorbed into the black strands. I am bathed in the radiance of peace for eons, but it is only a nanosecond here in this reality. The flash of light doesn’t even register to the other patients and staff.
I am glad I made an exception tonight. I twist the cosmic strands and clip them up. I ease out of the chair. Out of the corner of my eye, I see her not as a patient but as a doctor moving from gurney to gurney, aiding people of all ages. She had traveled back in time and changed her destiny. I walk over to her as I do with all the ER staff.
“Doctor, is there anything I can do?”
She smiles. Her eyes are clear. I can see there are no bruises, no scars.
“No, but thank you! I’ve got this.
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