8 | A Rabbit Hole

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"Evie, can I talk to you for a moment?" Hiyori Inoue asked, drawing her aside after physics class.

"Sure, ma'am," Evanna said, taken by surprise.

Inoue sat down, her suit almost the same shade as the charcoal grey chair. "I just wanted to ask you how your week has been so far."

Wait, does she know I'm seeing Mrs. Marsh? She lowered her voice as the noise dissipated with the fleeing students. "It's been good. All good."

"Alright." The teacher leaned back and adjusted her glasses. "If there's anything, you can come talk to me."

"Okay, thanks." Evanna managed an awkward smile, grateful that Inoue wasn't badgering her.

A minute later, she was out traversing the corridor. Her next class was math.

As she passed one Tsunokory painting after another, the icy desolation they depicted resonated with her mood that morning. Monday's too late! Maybe I should call Ed Morken today. No, Ev! He wouldn't even bother answering your questions if you do that!

The need for answers burned with renewed intensity. On an impulse, she turned on her heels and headed back to her homeroom.

When she entered 12-E, there was no one there except Inoue, who looked up with raised eyebrows.

"Ma'am," Evanna said as she approached the table, arms behind her back, "I actually would like to talk about something."

"Oh, you have a class now, yes?" the teacher asked. "How about you meet me in the staff room during lunch break?"

"This won't take long, if it's okay."

"Alright."

"Um...how would parallel universes work?"

A silence stretched out. Inoue just watched her, eyebrows rising another millimeter.

Evanna shifted her weight. "It's there in movies and books, so I'm just curious. Sorry if it's a stupid question. I just saw online it might be possible scientifically..."

"No, it's not a stupid question," the teacher said with a hint of a smile. "I like it when my students are curious and start asking questions."

Hope soared valiantly in her heart while she waited for the answer.

"If you want to know if parallel universes exist, the answer is—we don't know." Inoue leaned back in her seat. "Can they exist? Yes."

Evanna's eyes widened. "So, there are copies of us in other universes?"

"There is a thought experiment called the Schrödinger's cat. You put a cat inside a sealed box with something that has a fifty percent chance of killing the cat. How would you find out if the cat is alive or dead?"

"Just...open the box and look?"

"Yes. You look inside, and you know which state the cat had been in. But subatomic particles, which we are all made of, don't meet our expectations of reality."

"Okay..."

The teacher picked up a pen, scrawled a wave on a piece of paper and peppered it with dots, the sharp staccato beat carrying in the quiet. "Subatomic particles are in all possible states—multiple places. It's called superposition. So, it's like the cat is both alive and dead inside the box—at the same time."

"But that's impossible," Evanna murmured, brain struggling to process the information.

"However, when you observe the particle, it assumes one state—like rolling dice coming to rest, governed by probability. Going back to our cat analogy, the cat assumes one state only when you open the box and look at it."

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