Harriet & the Wormhole
Based on a true story.
It was the first day of autumn when Harriet found herself in the garden, crawling through pasty mud below an overcast Tasmanian sky. Having been born premature, Harriet was not the largest of babies by any means. In fact, Harriet was so tiny that upon finding a wormhole, Harriet was just small enough to crawl inside. Given that very few people are so diminutively proportioned, Harriet found herself thinking this a privilege that should not be taken for granted.
And so, without the slightest hesitation, Harriet crawled into the wormhole. Before she could think to herself: oh dear, I haven’t properly assessed all the risks associated with this line of action, Harriet found herself falling through a blur of nothingness. Down, down, Harriet fell, through the curves of space-time. Being such a young girl, Harriet was yet to attend kindergarten, and thus had not yet studied a basic course in theoretical physics. In fact, at just a few weeks old, Harriet was yet to develop a strong sense of time; the only times that Harriet was aware of at this stage of her development were mealtimes and bedtime. Harriet was yet to understand all the nuances associated with time. She’d heard some things of course, one can’t help hearing things. At such a young age, people tended to let down their guard in her presence. For example, she knew that beer o’clock occurs when the wife is absent; alarmingly, time flies when one is enjoying oneself too much (this sounds rather dangerous, Harriet thought discerningly); possibly even more alarming is the fact that we’re running out of time (just what will happen then, worried Harriet); and so on. My point being, Harriet certainly had never encountered such an anomaly as a wormhole in her observations of the universe in which she resided.
Gradually, her motion slowed, and Harriet found herself slide to a halt onto a familiar looking slope. Crawling up towards the light, Harriet made her way out of the hole, past a grumpy looking worm, and into the awaiting day outside. As Harriet allowed her eyes to adjust to the intense daylight, the world she had entered seemed as conventional as ever. All the familiar sights, smells and sounds were present. The grass was an intense green and the earthly smell of mud filled her nostrils; the trees swayed gently in the breeze whilst the birds sang melodically. And yet; there was something distinctly odd about the world around her. Something about the motion of things was somehow disconcerting. For example, had the leaves always fallen from the ground and attached themselves to the trees? Being only several weeks old, Harriet had very limited experience with the world; but she was certain she’d never before observed the rain materializing from the earth and falling up into the sky.
Perhaps this was a March thing. Harriet was born in January and had lived through a whole February. She didn’t mind January, although at times it could be a little hot. February seemed much the same as January; where things tended to fall towards the ground and people tended to drink too much, wake up with a severe hangover, tell of their drunken infamy to all who were willing to listen as though it were the highest obtainable badge of honour, swear off alcohol for the rest of their life, then repeat the cycle the following weekend. Perhaps this whole March concept was a new beginning. A time when the rain fell back into the sky, children acted with a level of decorum unprecedented in the preceding months, and even the adults behaved in a satisfactory manner. If this is what happens to the adults in March, mused Harriet, it really will take an awful lot of getting used to. Of course, this line of thinking regarding adult behaviour was merely speculation, as the innocent Harriet assumed that the adult population surely couldn’t sustain the level of improper conduct she had observed in the first two months of her short life. In reality, she was yet to observe all the commotion of the adult world since the calendar had shifted from the corrupt February agenda to the highly respectable confines of March.
Just then her mother approached. She would understand what was happening. Harriet began to ask her mum what was going on when she realised she had two problems: One, her mother was approaching in a backward motion without apparently looking where she was going (this proves the whole rumour that mothers have eyes in the back of their heads, thought Harriet to herself). The second major flaw in her plan, Harriet realised as she opened her mouth to question her mother, was that at only a few weeks old she was yet to speak an intelligible word, let alone string together a whole sentence.
Being the clever girl that Harriet was, she found a solution to overcome both of these problems. Harriet decided to tap her question to her mother in Morse code. This way she would not need to use her undeveloped vocal chords and her mother was sure to notice a pattern being tapped on the ground with a stick, even without having to look in her direction. So Harriet began tapping a message through a series of dots and dashes. Unfortunately for Harriet, her mother misinterpreted the message as an infant innocuously bashing a stick against the ground.
“teirraH doog yreV” cooed her mother in what Harriet interpreted as a condescending tone.
Rather upset at her mother’s insulting lack of confidence in her intellectual capacity, Harriet stalked off in search of her dummy. I know that spitting the dummy seems like such an unoriginal feat for such an intelligent infant to be undertaking; but, Harriet mused to herself, if that’s the sort of frivolous activity my mother expects me to pursue, then pursue it I will.
Whilst searching for her dummy, Harriet noticed Willow, the family’s illustrious weimaraner, wandering about nonchalantly. Just then Harriet had an epiphany. Surely it cannot be a coincidence that doG is God spelled in reverse. If anybody can help me understand this world, certainly God can, thought Harriet excitedly to herself. And all this, despite the fact that Harriet was yet to learn how to speak the English language, let alone read it. Harriet truly was a peculiarly clever girl.
And so, forgetting her sour mood, Harriet found herself on all fours (she was yet to take her first step) in pursuit of God. Willow had just disappeared behind the garden shed. Crawling after her saviour, Harriet was careful to avoid falling down any wormholes. As she rounded the corner, there she found the mighty hound, perched upon a timber ledge in all her majesty, calmly smoking a wooden pipe.
The two of them locked eyes, and a silent communication began. The exact phrasing of the wordless exchange cannot be recorded, as it was not language that passed between the two, so much as a higher form of communication altogether. Essentially Willow provided Harriet with an explanation of the proceedings of the morning. Through her silent transmission with Willow, Harriet realised that the world in which she was born was not the world in which she currently inhabited. While I’m here, wondered Harriet, just what is the meaning of life? An approximate interpretation of the message Harriet received whilst staring into the wise eyes of Willow is thus: Have you ever seen a dog brooding in the past, or worrying about the future? Do dogs aspire to greatness, or are they content with what they have? Do dogs sit around philosophising about why they’re here, or do they simply accept the fact they’re alive and try to make the most of it? Do dogs give a damn about what others think of them, or are they completely happy in themselves?
So basically, Harriet summarised to herself, everything’s going to be alright.
Oh, and be careful around cats, they are not to be trusted, was the final piece of enlightenment Harriet received.
There really wasn’t much else that Harriet needed to know. At less than two months old, Harriet had a grasp of things that many humans fail to understand over a lifetime. If only one paid more attention to one’s faithful pet. Willow removed her pipe, and offered it to Harriet, who took it gratifyingly. Harriet sucked in a lungful of the stuff, and her thoughts clouded over.
The next thing Harriet remembered was waking up in the garden, caked in mud, with a vague feeling that she’d forgotten something of the upmost importance. She remembered crawling through the garden, noticing a wrinkly old worm ascending from a hole, and wasn’t there something peculiar about the rain? Just then her mother came running over.
“There you are Harriet, oh what a mess. What have you been up to?!”
What indeed?, thought Harriet to herself. As Sharni scooped her daughter up in her strong arms, Harriet looked over her mother’s shoulder, where she noticed Willow digging happily in the garden. Looking up from her cheerful activity, Willow caught Harriet’s gaze. Just as her mother carried her through the back door, Harriet witnessed something most would consider rather remarkable (despite the fact that it was March). Without breaking eye contact, Willow gifted Harriet a great big unequivocal wink.
When his job expired in the middle of 2016, Andrew realised that he still had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. It was then that he decided to stop pretending to be normal and stop pretending to be a respectable citizen. He abruptly announced that he planned to embark on a journey beginning somewhere in Asia, heading in a generally westward direction, for an indefinite period of time.