They took seats next to each other on the icy front steps of the building as the New York night immortalized itself before them.
“Let me guess,” Greta began, after a long drag that could have revised history. “You’re one of those people who writes in the day and takes improv classes at night. One of those people who works ‘unconventional hours.’”
“What? No! Sometimes my improv classes are in the day so I have to write at night. I try not to pin myself down to any kind of routine because—because—well, I feel that—well, because I want to—It’s hard to explain—”
Greta lifted her chin and exhaled a puff of smoke in solidarity. “Hey, I get you, man. Monotony is death.”
In that moment, Emerson felt something within herself clarify.
Just then a bulldog slouched by, followed by a woman who appeared too young to be without human company during the final moments of an arbitrary division of time.
Greta turned to Emerson. “On the count of three, that woman’s name. O.K.? One, two, three—Vivian.”
“Ooh, so close! Profession? Two, three—dog-walker rushing to meet a deadline.”
“You’re so right, she’s SUCH a gastroenterologist!”
Greta hunched forward and traced the belly of a G with her cigarette stub into the ground, looked up at Emerson, then considerately added a plus sign and an E with the residual ash. “You know, a part of each of us will always be at this New Year’s party.”
“Wow—Greta—that’s really—that’s really sweet. I think we have some kind of connection, too, and I’ll—I’ll remember this night—”
“No, I meant. It’s science. Each and every moment of our lives… They’ve already happened. Except they don’t just happen and then fuck off. They keep happening. Past, present, future, they’re all the same, even if to us they’re one linear flow. And you know when we think we’re sharing a moment with someone else? It’s all just a sham. Someone’s gotten to that moment quicker, and by the time you arrive, they’ve already left.” Greta let out a nihilistic laugh and her eyes flashed. “Isn’t that wild? It was on Radiolab the other day.”
Above them the white moon continued to exert its gravitational force, and back in the apartment, 2008 shuddered like a train pulling into its destination.
“Happy new year!” the room screamed, like leaders of a quantum revolution. Those whose time-keeping devices hadn’t yet caught up felt embarrassed, but hoarded their secret admirably. This room made a small universe but already it was rent in two.