Kate and I went to the dentist recently (a thrilling start to any story, I know). I was just in for a routine cleaning, her for the first of a series of more involved appointments. But that day was just an exam for her, and, finished before I was, she sat near me and made small talk with the hygienist while I made garbled sounds around the vacuum, water, and polishing tools.
At some point, while I was—understandably—distracted, she had an idea, and, with nothing else to write on, jotted it down in the back of my nearby notebook, sitting with my things on the counter.
But I didn’t notice this.
Flash forward a few days, and I—somehow for the first time—noticed the note. A mundane investment strategy to look into.
The thing was that I didn’t write it. Or I didn’t remember it. But there it was, in my notebook, in my pen’s ink. Not in my usual handwriting, I was pretty sure.
And reality broke.
I showed it to her. “I can’t remember writing this,” I kept saying, distressed, convinced I had left myself a note I had no recollection of. It was not on my next page in line, it wasn’t dated, the page wasn’t numbered, it wasn’t in my table of contents; at the moment, it just made no sense to me.
A friend was over; I was just with it enough to insist we didn’t have this conversation in front of him. We didn’t.
Kate thought at first that perhaps I was upset she’d used my notebook without asking. But she grasped quickly that this wasn’t a roundabout way of communicating I was upset; reality was just broken by the surprise, something that occasionally breaks my concept of real. The unexpected twist in reality. I had no problem with her using my notebook.
She explained that she had written it. Several times. The dentist’s office story. But I couldn’t grasp this. My mind was already off in the alternate universe it was building without me to explain this, while ignoring all easier logic. In this reality, everyone had Their Notebook. Like you had fingerprints or a social security number. And only you could write in your notebook. I don’t know how this formed or why this made more sense than Kate borrowing mine. But in this world, this meant that she had to have written this note in her notebook, but, due to our deep connection or legal marriage or something, her notebook had in a way “hacked” my notebook psychically, transporting notes between them.
That wasn’t so bad, but my mind was spinning with possibilities. Did that mean that anyone could get into my notebook from a distance? I didn’t want literally anyone in my notes.
And I was off investigating locks and privacy measures (which apparently stopped psychic transports). Kate let me.
Reality slowly returned as I tried to focus enough to make sense of Amazon reviews.
(In the end, I did decide that a bit of security—against real dangers—wasn’t my worst idea, and got a fire and water proof accordion style folder—a type I’d been considering for my notebook and pen and loose papers anyway. We already have a fireproof safe for important documents, but nothing portable.)
So went the notebook universe. Would’ve been a cool story premise. (I did end up writing about a non magical stolen notebook shortly after, this time about an existing character with actual privacy concerns.)
But, thankfully, I grasped within hours that the premise wasn’t reality. And so episodes go.