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Carol Novack

Quantum Physics

Jim and Tim met at The Met. They were scrutinizing a painting of a woman pouting at herself in a mirror as she brushed her exuberant golden hair.  Jim looked at Tim and saw Tim as the person he’d always wanted to see in his own mirror, someone who reminded him of himself but substantially more than himself.  Tim had the same experience.  They looked at one another as though through a magical looking glass and turned instantly into a union: the seeing and the seen, the seen and the seeing.  Their tastes were naturally similar, from escargots to crème brulee, Marisot to Klee, and they frequently uttered the same words in unison with glee.

Jim had a wife named Adele, and Tim, a live-in partner named Estelle.  Adele and Estelle took back seats to Jim and Tim and had nothing to say to one another, though they frequently rolled their eyes at each other and yawned in empathy.  After a while the couple outings lost Estelle, who disappeared, maybe with a man named Marvin she’d met at Tango Tuesdays.  Adele, a clinical psychologist, declared Jim guilty of a parasitic form of narcissism that would be his undoing.  He returned the diagnosis, with one swift, impulsive stroke, as people are wont to do when they’re rightfully attacked.  So Adele left with the child and three cats and Tim moved in with Jim.

Tim and Jim began to grow old together.  Eventually with aging came forgetfulness, fuzziness, cataracts and grumpiness.  They peered into one another’s mirrors and spat on the glass but their images failed to improve and became cloudier. Teeth turned yellow and dropped out, skin turned the color of ancient bones, and eyes paled. The men threw their mirrors away.  But even without the mirrors, Tim reminded Jim of Jim as substantially less than himself and Jim reminded Tim of Tim as substantially less than himself and so they became disgusted and hopeless and decided to unmeet.  Tim found a woman named Esme who was more than he’d imagined, and Jim found his son Jimbo a passable portrait painter. 

Carol Novack is the publisher of Mad Hatters' Review and a former writer’s grant recipient from the Australian government. An illustrated selection of short writings, “Giraffes in Hiding: The Mythical Memoirs of Carol Novack,” will be published shortly (Crossing Chaos).  Recent works may be found in numerous journals, including 5_trope, American Letters & Commentary, Caketrain, Diagram, Drunken Boat, Exquisite Corpse, Fiction International, Gargoyle, Journal of Experimental Fiction, and LIT, and in many anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, Heide Hatry: Heads and Tales and The &Now Awards: The Best Innovative Writing.

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