Superposition (Story by Risa Peris)

The kiss is a strange thing. A subtle one feels like the wings of a pixie or the breath of a bee full of nectar. A hard one clashes teeth. The tongue, searching and reaching like a dentist stretching for the wisdom teeth, feels slimy and entirely gross. I’d rather have the whore’s kiss. Lush and less intense. Rather dull and blank. A whore doesn’t love you. She doesn’t want her saliva dripping from her mouth despite the fact that other fluids from your imperfect body drip from her mouth.

I thought of this and puffed on the pipe that coursed opium through my blood pulsed body.

“Odd thing happened at Oxford a few days ago.” Winston, an opium acquaintance who was lounged on a velvet sofa fraying at the edges, exhaled and stared at the ceiling where bright white stars were painted. They glowed in the lamplight of the den.

“What odd thing?” I asked. I barely cared.

“Professor of Science proposed time was the fourth dimension and that there may be many other dimensions. Imagine that. Time slows in this opium den. Do you suppose the other dimensions constrict or expand as a result?”

I looked around the den. My eyes had blurred focus. “I think things are expanding.”

“Do you suppose you could stop time and then your world would infinitely expand?” Winston twisted his right foot in a circular motion as if he were loosening it before a jog in Hyde Park.

I sighed. “It could just as easily constrict and then you are in a box in the ground.”

“If time stopped for all we would all be dead? Does humanity exist outside of time?” Winston coughed slightly.

“Oh, Winston. Do stop your nonsense. Besides, I’m a Cambridge man and a man of letters. I don’t appreciate science news from Oxford.” I puffed again and my body slackened even more. Winston was still moving his foot and it seemed fascinating.

Then a woman approached. Lovely in blue satin. She placed a kiss on my slack lips. It was pure honey.

“You’re a queen,” I said.

“I’m a whore,” she said.

“Perhaps all queens are whores,” I whispered. “Or all whores are queens.”

Winston sat up quickly. “By God, that’s it. A superposition. Our reality is a sum of all states.”

The woman in blue satin sat next to me. “A man is a man and also a monster,” she imbibed sweetly.

I looked at Winston but he had passed out. His epiphany had dissipated into the smoke of the den.

I was very sleepy and my pipe fell to the floor. The room was constricting as the woman in blue satin unzipped my pants.

Was I dying or was I alive? I decided I was both alive and dead. Quite normal, really, in these opium dens.