Nonlinear speculative fiction by Teresa Berkowitz
Teresa Berkowitz is a writer and poet from Portland, Maine. Teresa 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.
As a young woman, Teresa would explore the headlands in Marin equipped with a bottle of water, trail mix, and a journal. She would let the trails take her to black-sand beaches or redwood groves. In those sacred spaces, she would take what troubled her and craft fairy tales. She would return transformed. She began to share her stories.
Her work has been published in literary journals.
Teresa is the founder and editor of Tangled Locks Journal, an online literary journal committed to sharing complex, well-rounded stories, poetry, and essays that define the experience and lives of women. Teresa is committed to amplifying writers’ voices in social media as a means to enhance personal expression and to impact positive change.
You can connect with her at TangledLocksJournal.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @tangledlockslit or @teresaberkowitz.
No one knows for sure how it happened. In a supercollider, physicists were bombarding Higgs boson with an insane amount of teraelectronvolts trying to test quantum mechanics. Witches, sick of misogyny, gathered in online covens to hex the patriarchy. There was sunspot activity.
Was it the combination of factors? Or something entirely different?
No one knows for sure. But no one cares either. Because that’s kind of what the anomaly did.
I’m getting ahead of myself. We all do that now. My apologies.
I’ll work on staying tethered to time. For the historians (such a funny concept really). For other species. For 0.153 percent of our species. For the AIs and supercomputers (They remain chronologic).
• • •
My brother died before the anomaly. I stood up at his grave site and told the mourners what a big life he had even though it was too short for us. Maybe I was in tune to what was coming. Maybe the illusion of chronology was slipping away already for me. Too often, one would define a young man losing to a fast-moving cancer after marrying the love of his life as a tragedy. That’s what chronologic thinking does. Defines a life by an ending. I caught a wisp of something and it became clear: free the life from time and you could map my brother’s life as a life well lived.
I shared this with the mourners. I saw the spark in a few eyes but not many. Just a few months from that day, 98.487% of humans would no longer be tethered to time.
• • •
Our lives are different now. Anxiety has all but been eliminated. Who knew that anxiety was a function of our overdependence on trending and dependencies? You wanted your story to have a happy ending. You worried that this problem was the start of something that would lead to your ruin. That one vape would lead to marijuana would lead to hard drugs would lead to inability to function would lead to death.
One step leads to another. The trance of being tethered to time.
We didn’t have to make all these connections. We didn’t have to worry so. Few knew that before the anomaly.
• • •
It’s funny. The computer keeps spitting out meaningless numbers representing days of the week and time. Most of us don’t care. But some care very much.
There’s a whole movement of traditionalists and extremists. You would think they would be the 0.153 percenters, but actually most of that group simply don’t care. The majority of the pro-tether faction were already fighting progress and wishing for a fictional past. To them, being untethered is the final assault on traditional values.
These extremists worship the clocks of old, study the old timelines. In secret labs, they research implanting AIs into assistive technology. They conduct human experiments. You cannot imagine the madness induced by AI voices in your head counting time and reminding you of antecedents and likely outcomes. Over and over again.
Of course, most of the test subjects are willing volunteers.
You see them on the streets. For those of us with many moments, they remind you of the early days of wireless headsets and men in suits running along streets talking, seemingly to no-one, ever busy, ever anxious.
If the Pro-Teths had the power, they would make everyone tethered again.
• • •
In the old days (language artifact) we would have wondered, how can you have a life with no beginning, middle and end? How do you collaborate and come together? I mean, whole industries were set up for people to input their plans, pick times for meetings. I was the worst! A project manager, keeping everyone on track. I would have thought the world would fall apart without my Outlook calendar.
• • •
Do people die? What a silly question. Yes, of course. I understand your confusion. Detached from time does not mean immortal.
• • •
The sun is apricot. I squeeze my husband’s hand. One moment in our scatter plot of life. A good moment in the quadrant of good effort and happiness. We fill that quadrant in small moments.
• • •
Our scientists and researchers believe that some were already detethering before the anomaly. “Live for the moment. One day at a time.” People were long treating their stories as malleable, rejecting predetermination.
Maybe this all wasn’t an anomaly but an evolution. (I see you thinking you caught me – evolution, slow change over TIME, you are right. It is not that time doesn’t exist. It is that most people are no longer tethered to time).
• • •
Some may wonder, how do humans accomplish anything untethered? How can there be scientists? The answer is simple. We live, moment by moment, in intent and action. Small packets of activity untied from outcomes. You could say our research is more objective that way. There is no desire for a specific end to our scientific story. Pure research. Pure observations.
• • •
So many religions had a magical end story. Live a good life, die, be rewarded with a paradise in the afterlife. Take the path of evil and be punished in fiery torment. Each step, a fork in the road.
Most untethered people have rejected those old religions. And yet, we are mostly good. Good without grasping or fearing some divine ending.
We have our spiritual beliefs too.
Live free and untethered. Make the most of each blessed moment.
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Well written! Interesting read.