Tethered

I will find you.

I wish I could know that you’d find this. That you’d shift here after me and read this and know. The chances are slim. But maybe there’s hope.

I’ve chased you through thirty-six worlds now. In some worlds we never met. In some worlds I’m young and you’re old. In some worlds I’m a widower. But on so many of the worlds, we did meet and fall in love. In so many of the worlds, you are mine and I am yours. I could taste your lips in those worlds. It would be you, but it would never suffice.

I figure, since you’re wandering the worlds, trying to get home, if I can leave notes like this in every one of them, you’ll find one, and you’ll know I’m looking. You’ll see the other me and know that if one of them could love one of you with half the strength of my heart, nothing will keep us separated forever.

I found a world where we were childhood sweethearts. Can you imagine? None of those wasted years. None of the heartache you endured, and none of the mistakes I still regret.

In one world, we had been married fifty years and still doted on each other. My entry interrupted their anniversary celebration as they were surrounded by children and grandchildren. It made me again think of all the children we might have. I want to have a son with you, my wife.

I can’t stay long in those worlds. I feel like I’m stealing time from myself.

This world’s Judith is so close to you. I thought she was you at first. Her laugh holds the same mirth as yours. Her smile hides her timidity, just as yours does. She doesn’t like her shoulders. She wears green. She knows her husband well enough to know that I am not him, though I wear his flesh even now.

I told her what we had been trying to do. She nodded as I related the experiment. She accepted the idea, though this world is so far behind ours. Of course I didn’t give any technical details; that would have been impossible to convey. I was tempted to stay here. But, no, this is not my world, and this body is not my own. I am a visitor here, hoping to find you.

I’m guessing I have another few hours here. The time dilation through the multiverse lens is still tricky; I’m guessing you’ve discovered this as you continue your jumping. I still can’t believe that the tether snapped, releasing you to the interdimensional eddies. According to what I’ve figured out in the labs, you should continue shifting until you come home… or until you encounter someone from home. Your pattern will lock onto the other, and hopefully. Hopefully.

It’s late and Judith is wondering if I will come to bed. Though she understands that I am not her husband, she does not fully grasp it. It would be so easy to stay here.

I can’t. She is you, and yet she is not. If it’s wrong to sleep with another man’s wife, how much more when the other man is me?

I miss you so much. It’s even harder seeing you on so many worlds. I understand even more now why we outlawed human cloning long ago. To see the face of the one you love with a different soul within, to see the skin of your wife wrapped around a different heart, is beyond what I think I can bear.

Please forgive me. I do not know how many more times I can do this.

I miss you. I want to find you.

No. I will find you and bring you home, and we will never again wonder what might have been. What is will be enough. Our world will contain our love, and we will never look away again.

You will be mine and I yours, now and forever. We don’t need the multiverse. We don’t need the plurality of possibilities. My only possibility is you and your only possibility is me.

I will find you, Judith. And I will bring you home.

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