This story was originally entered into the Quantum Shorts 2015 contest. You can see the original post, wonky formatting and all, here.
Soccer Action at a Distance
by Ryan Bradley
The other parents always stared at us on the sideline. My wife was stupendously beautiful. I’m not stupendously handsome. I am white. She is not.
So other parents came over and asked our names.
John and Sulgara.
Where are you from?
“I’m from Pittsburg,” I would say.
“I’m from New York,” Sulgara would say.
“But where are you from originally?” they’d say to her, circumventing me entirely.
“New Rochelle,” she’d say, refusing to give them the answer they wanted without them saying exactly what they wanted to know. She went neighborhood, street, building number, apartment number from there, until they asked her about her ethnicity.
And then she let them know how rude she found the question.
I’d share mine. Half-polish. A quarter Irish. And a quarter, believe it or not, Caribbean, something my off the boat Polish father found hilarious.
So I understand why Sulgara doesn’t want to come to games anymore. I do. But our son, Noel, doesn’t. He’s nine, and he’s got my eyes, so he needs all the support his mother can give him. I mean, they’re too close-together and too near-sighted for him to make the ten feet from his bedroom to the bathroom at night without his glasses.
So here’s the compromise: my wife—beautiful, adoring, and brilliant when it comes to everything but the mysteries of human interactions—has quantumly entangled her eyes, removing one and tethering it to her, which allows it to float outside her body and still transmit what it sees back to her. Once it became entangled, it was constantly linked to her, no matter how far it went. It goes with our son or me, following closely while she uses the other to work in the lab. Talking is much simpler. She’s rigged up a speaker that I clip to my belt. She’s got a microphone in her lab that she talks through.
And that’s why people look at us at soccer games now. We’ve gone from the only mixed-race family in our town to the only family where one member has manipulated quantum physics to watch the game.
It floats next to me, brown and beautiful like her. It’s at about the height she would be if she were next to me. But I’ve got her eye instead. It tracks the ball, going left when ball goes toward Noel’s end and right when someone boots it to the other side of the field. Maybe I’m projecting, but it even twinkles on the rare occasions Noel manages to do something correctly. Steal the ball. Pass the ball away before it’s stolen from him. Dribble upfield. All infrequent.
The other parents pretend not to stare, maybe they want us to feel normal, but none of them come near us. They yell their son’s names and even Noel’s when he’s doing well.
The conversation has shifted now that they can’t see Sulgna. It’s the conversations I remember my mother having at my brother’s soccer games growing up, although there are more men. One woman starts on the topic of anniversary presents. She brags that her husband wrote her a poem, and she reads it for us. It is sickening. Each line, all different syllabic lengths, rhyming words like “love” and “dove.”
Another woman’s husband took her on a surprise shopping spree in Manhattan. Though she’d appreciated the effort, she was the one who kept the checkbooks and splurged tepidly.
I didn’t think Sulgna would like me to share what we did. We’d been married in India, Kochi to be exact, so her grandparents could see us. For our latest anniversary, we’d gone back to visit, but after all the effort that she’d gone to make people stop talking about her race, I thought better than to bring it into the conversation this way.
But then I heard her voice, crackling from the distance of her lab to the soccer game telling the other mother’s about what we’d done. And then the questions started.
What’s it like there?
Is it true they don’t have toilet paper?
Does Noel get sick from the food or is that kind of tolerance for spice genetic?
To be fair there was a “how are your grandparents doing?” offered by the mother of a Brazilian boy on the other team. The eye bobbed, trying to follow the questions. I popped open an umbrella, careful not to give her a black socket like I’d done carelessy the last time. Without a lid, it needed to be shaded manually.
She needed to bring India up. Once some things become tangled, no amount of twisting or struggling can pull them apart.
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