Let us talk about two particles. Two random particles in the astronomically gargantuan universe which are, for all intents and purposes, identical. In that whole, giant, cosmic vastness that is our universe, these two particles (by chance) happen to be quite close. Both of them are on the planet Earth, on the same continent no less, in the same town and (most importantly) at the same time.
Both are part of larger structures, forming molecules, forming cells, forming tissue, forming the hands of primates. The primates that carry them are also alike in many ways, but in others they are quite different. Frank and Cassandra are their names. They were born and raised very near each other on a cosmic scale (and a national one for that matter), but not so near as to have ever met before. They went to the same college (for different degrees) and even shared a friend in common, but still they have never met.
She is fond of the outdoors. She loves the open sky, the smell of dirt, the feel of rock. She enjoys camping and climbing; sports and adventure.
He is not fond of the outdoors. He loves the quiet of his home, the comfort of his chair, and the feel of a keyboard. He loves games and books; relaxing and pondering.
But she has also enjoyed games, and he has been camping and liked it. Their interests are not so far afield that they would never coincide. Were they to meet, they would not be incapable of connection.
And meet they do.
On a bus, headed nowhere, coming from nowhere (at least nowhere important).
The bus is crowded. Though the town in which they live is not so populated, there are too few buses that run too infrequently. She boarded first, and there was nowhere to sit, and so she stood. He boarded next, and there was still nowhere to sit, so he stood.
They stand now, not three feet from each other. They do not know the other, and they pay each other little mind. Until Cassandra’s stop. She moves to the door, and for the briefest of moments, as she holds out a hand and says “Excuse me.” As she passes, her hand touches Frank’s and their eyes meet.
It only lasts a second. Less than a second really. A moment. That is all.
On the surface it means nothing, but that is the way of things. Two strangers’ hands briefly touch, a briefer apology will follow and the day will continue. Something else happens though, at the exact point at which they touch. Two particles (for all intents and purposes identical) meet. So close now and so alike they might appear to be the same particle to all but the closest observers.
In this touching of sameness, something passes there on the bus. A ghost. A phantom. A shadow of things that could be. In the recesses of their minds, the Frank and Cassandra share a sensation, too vague to be a vision, of a strange and wonderful future. Of a dinner out in town, of a shy glance across a table, of a kiss before departing. They feel in that moment, the fun and nervousness of 13 months of dating. The joy and occasional turmoil of living together after. The franticness of their wedding day. The feel children and grandchildren. Nights of passion and pleasure, pain and heartache, race across the wrinkled surface of their brains at the speed of electrochemical thought. There is a separation, and anger at some points along the wave, but the whole of the impression is good, and full of something all of their species of primate longs for. Acceptance, companionship….love.
And then it ends. Cassandra’s hand has finished it’s motion, and the connection is terminated. The whole wave of joyous sensation lasted less than a second’s span, and it fades just as quickly. In it’s wake, it leaves only a nebulous feeling of having forgotten something very important. Though surely, if it were so important, it could not be so easily forgotten.
So Cassandra leaves. She gets off the bus still in a good mood, still happy with her life, and in a month, she will meet a man she will be very happy with. Frank is in a bad mood (a preexisting condition of grumpiness) but later that day his mood will change. He too, will eventually meet someone and be happy, and both of them shall live out the lives they were meant to, totally ignorant of the one averted today, on that bus.
But let us return to those two particles. They will not forget. Particles do not have minds or brains to remember things, but still it is appropriate to say that they shall not forget. Because though the rest of the particles in both Frank and Cassandra moved on, unchanged from their contact, these two are quite different now. Forever bound together by their sameness, by what could have been, and by the brief moment in which they came so close, they became one. Forever entwined in bonds that cannot be as easily broken as a momentary touch on a bus.
As the scientists would say: Entangled Particles.