I watched patiently as Jess flipped open the top of her hiking pack, rummaged through, flipped it closed, grunted. Repeat.
This late in the season, most hikers steered clear of the falls at the bottom of the trail, but yesterday’s rain had made the promise of the view worth it, and it didn’t disappoint. Bird song and insect noise were nearly drowned out by the crashing of the water that eroded away the sharpness of the rocks below until they were smooth and glistening.
Jess opened the hiking pack again, rummaged, closed it. Sighed.
“I swear I packed them,” she said, the words edging out between clenched teeth. “I know I did.”
“Here,” I said, holding my hand out.
She passed the pack to me. I picked a mostly dry, mostly flat stone to sit on and placed the pack between my legs.
“Okay, when’s the last time you remember seeing them?” I asked.
“We got out of the car,” she said, closing her eyes in thought. “I popped the trunk and grabbed three bottles from the case.”
“Three” I murmured, searching. “Why three?”
“I don’t… It seemed right,” she said.
“Mmhmm. Okay, so you grabbed three bottles, and then what?”
“I put them in my pack,” she said.
I opened the pack and reached in, sifting through what was physically there. No water bottles. I looked at Jess. Her eyebrows were raised in question, her mouth slightly askew.
“I think I put them in there,” she said.
I shook my head, one hand still in the pack.
“You think, or you know?”
She looked from me to the pack back to me.
“I know,” she decided.
I nodded and closed my eyes, letting my mind focus—or rather unfocus—on the world around me. I felt a familiar tug in my gut, in my mind, pulling me in Jess’s direction. With no one else around, it was relatively easy to latch onto Jess’s reality. That is… the resonance of her perspective that twines with the greater human collective consciousness.
Everyone has their own resonance, their own personal reality that meshes with what I’d call the greater agreed-upon physical reality. I’ve never gotten a formal course on the deep physics or anything, but I guess what’s important for you to know is… well, you’ll see.
I followed the thread of Jess’s memory. In our threading minds, overlaid, I could see the parking lot at the top of the trail to the falls. Jess’s car. We get out. In the overlay of physical reality, Jess starts to move toward the front of the car. I pause time here and reach for Jess’s underlying thread, pulling it into physical reality so we can follow it to the back of the car. The thread hums between my thumb and index finger, a bright song, a bright light, guiding me to a new reality. It sends tiny jolts down my nerve endings, making me feel electric.
The scene resets.
We get out of Jess’s car, and she walks to the trunk, pops it, hesitates. I try to pull the thread further into physical reality, but it’s resistant.
“Jess.” My voice is distant.
“Three bottles?” I try to put some authority in my tone, but if it’s there I don’t recognize it.
“In my head, Sam had come with us.”
I feel more than hear the three tiny pops of air displacement as the water bottles are pulled from Jess’s reality into the physical. And one louder pop.
I open my eyes and pull out a water bottle for a slack-jawed, wide-eyed Jess, one for me, and one for a very unexpected Sam, whose death six months ago should have kept his presence away.