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THE WORMHOLE
 by  Keren Toledano













It was in the fine print at the bottom of the deed:
Wormhole present in upstairs closet. Coordinates at
(w,x,y,z). Seller renounces all liability resulting from
discovery of wormhole by Buyer.

Sally wanted nothing to do with it. But I said worm-
holes were a fact of life, and we wouldn’t find a deal
on a condo without one.

So, we bought it. And now she’s fucking Tomas.
Fucking Tomas. I told her I needed time to think. But
I don’t need time. What I need is a bottle of whiskey
and a hammer.

That’s the great thing about coordinates. They’re
always exactly where they say they’ll be. Unlike
people. People say they’re working late and fuck
your best friend in the bed you just made. I tip back
the whiskey and raise the hammer. I’m two inches
off, never had good aim. One of Sally’s heels gets
sucked into the vortex.

I push my arm inside the hole. The air feels
gelatinous and smells of carbon. A cool breeze
moves from my fingers to my head, and I’m inside. It
doesn’t hurt like I thought it would. My insides push
out and my outsides push in, as if I’m cancelling, like
everything about me has a plus and a minus.  

I float like this for a while in the blackness. Then my
eyes adjust and I start to see the things around me.
A pair of old Adidas. A puffy ski coat, half green, half
red. A small blue cylinder flies by my head. I don’t
know how, but I know it’s my ego. I think back to the
previous week, to the day I found Tomas asleep in
my bed. I’ve been on automatic pilot since then, kind
of id-like. I try to grab it but I miss. Guess I’ve been
okay for a week without it.

I keep on floating, and things keep coming, flying in a
spectrum of color and shape—my integrity,
motivation, the keys to the Volvo. So this is all a
wormhole is, a wave field full of possible outcomes.
What if I hadn't lost all of these things? Would they
have shot ripples through the fabric of spacetime?
What if I hadn't lost that fight with Tomas when he
confessed he was in love with my wife? Would my
ego still be whole? Would the tooth he chipped be
intact in my head? I glance around me, in search of
the chip. I wouldn't mind making it into a charm. In
thirty years, I can show it to my grand-kids.
Your
gramps,
I'll say, he used to get into fights. And he
fought back.
What they don't know isn't likely to hurt
them.

I grab Nico, the calico cat who never came home,
and swim through the pudding. After a while, I get a
little tired, so I close my eyes. When I open them,
I’m floating over a lake. Only it isn’t a lake, it’s some
kind of window. It waves and subsides like a bowl of
jelly. Then I see Sally…Sally and Tomas. They’re
sitting in the front seat of my old Volvo and he has
his hands on her....

I close my eyes and the pudding pulls me back. Nico
screeches. I hold her close and promise not to lose
her.

When I open my eyes I see me and Sally. We’re
kids in the sandbox. We didn’t know each other as
kids, but wormholes present all possible turns,
variations that wait in the soupy ether. It’s like Nico.
Before I found her in the wormhole, the poor cat was
both alive and dead. Anyway, our childhood selves
are building a castle. I kiss her cheek and Sally
starts crying. I unzip my pants and pee at her feet. In
this one, I don't think we end up together.

I see others. Countless others. Sometimes I win.
Sometimes I lose. In one version, we’re ninety-five
and Sally leans over my death bed, wearing the blue
sweater I lost when I was twelve, and tells me about
the affair with Tomas. “Fifty years,” she says. “He
was the love of my life until the day he died.” I turn
away and don’t say a word. I count this one as a win
for me. Sally’s always thrived on confrontation.    

I start to feel heavy. Nico is asleep in my arms and
I’m afraid I’m going to drop her, lose her again, so I
head back.

A Tonka truck. My temper. A friend named Andy.

“Hey, Andy,” I call, as he floats by. “Where ya been?”

“Oh, you know,” says Andy. “San Antonio. Taos.
Then mostly here.”

I wave at him. He waves at me. Poor Andy. He has
to stay in the wormhole because I lost his number.    

I see a light. The red stiletto shimmies, hooking its
heel around my collar, pulling toward the hole in the
closet. I had thought that the wormhole would hold
on to me, but it actually kind of spits me back. I hold
on to both sides of the closet, pieces of dry wall
breaking off in my hands. Half in, half out, my insides
go all positive again. One last tug and I land on the
carpet.

The wormhole closes up like quicksand. It will
migrate now from the ripples I have caused. If Sally
and I choose to sell the house, I’ll have to map out
the new coordinates. It's only fair. People should
know what they're buying into.

There’s a deep gash in the closet wall, the hammer
lost to the bending of spacetime. My feet squish
around in the puddle of whiskey. I’ll have to explain
the mess to Sally.

And Nico!

I lost the goddamn cat again.

Keren Toledano recently self-published In Light of This & Other
Things, based on her grandparents' life as WWII resistance
fighters, and is at work on a young adult novel that is
not set in
the post-apocalypse. Her short fiction has appeared in Slice
magazine and Tethered By Letters. She received the
Harvardwood Writing Competition Award in the short play
category in 2011. Keren holds a BA in English from Harvard and
an MA in Arts & Humanities Education from NYU. She is
currently a writing associate at The Cooper Union, and a
freelance writer and editor.
www.kerentoledano.com
SECOND
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GeminiMAGAZINE
2014
Flash Fiction
Contest
$100 PRIZE
DECEMBER 2013