I submitted “Multiverse” to Phoebe Journal, the litmag of George Mason University, for their fiction contest, and while it didn’t win, apparently the contest readers liked it enough that they named it their Reader’s Choice entry. Here’s the first bit:
You learn about the multiverse theory from your Facebook feed, when a story about it appears above a photo someone posts of your best friend from high school. It’s unexpected, that photo. He’s in his forties, like you, and he looks almost the same as back then…and yet, not. It takes a moment to pinpoint: His smile doesn’t reach his eyes. He used to smile with his whole body, his eyes most of all. Not now.
His sadness makes you wonder, and the multiverse theory makes you think about worlds in which you tried to kiss him….
It’s not a long story at all. You can read the rest of it here. There’s more fabulous writing available there, too.
I’m not so much proud of this story as bemused by it, as it seemed to be one of those that emerged almost whole, unbidden, out of the ether. Mind you, I don’t really think writing works that way. A kernel of this idea has been in the back of my mind since—well, since high school, if you must know. It just needed the right spark to catch fire, and honestly, a friend’s Facebook post (back before I ditched my personal Facebook profile) provided the necessary catalyst.
I also need to thank my friend, fellow writer Ruth Daniell, for her valuable feedback on it before I sent it in. (Ruth is a fantastic writer, by the way; you should read anything she publishes.)
I hope you enjoy it.