There’s a Quantum Singularity in Accounts Payable – Kristy Crabtree

Michael from accounting told me how to create a tear in the universe.

Not that I asked him for advice or anything.

He told me if I really wanted to – and based on the bags under my eyes that I might really need to – a lady like me could simply alter the spacetime continuum. It wouldn’t be that hard, he explained while bits of donut freed themselves from his lips. Would only need to bend either time or space and pick a different slot to fall through. That way I could avoid whatever homelife situation was creating the depressing plum hue above my cheeks.

I politely chuckled, as one does in this type of situation.

Though it did make me think about where else in space I’d like to be (pushing aside the reality that there is no “fabric” to rip in space or time dimensions). The list used to be long of places I’d like to explore, under-planned adventures I wanted to take, but recently it’s become very short. I’d like to be anywhere I’m not.

Not that I don’t like myself. It’s this strange rhythm in my chest. Keeps me up at night. Distracts me at work. Always and forever with the Thump. Thump. Thump. Sometimes fast and sometimes slow. Unpredictable and never ceasing.

The internet doesn’t give me any solid answers as to what it is. Only tells me it’s a heart palpitation brought on by stress or anxiety. I know it’s more than that. It’s as if my own body is trying to tell me something. Like when Michael told me that if I wanted to look younger, I should live on top of Mount Everest. “There,” he said, “time moves one-billionth of a second slower, as compared to living at sea level. Thus, you would age slower.”

He doesn’t get that evading the inescapable wrinkling of my face is the least of my concerns. And I didn’t explain that to him because what’s the point? The goal is never to lengthen the interaction. Agreement is usually the fastest escape route.

I guess some people would refute my advice, tell me to try harder. Or like HR, put me in a room full of women for a mandatory webinar on how to “lean in.” According to them, this is how you get the most out of life: a little elbow grease, and a go-get-em-girl attitude. Except people working in accounts payable aren’t known for our ambition.

True to my expectations, after the webinar, nothing changed.

Michael made his comments, like, “God, you look tired. Got to get eight hours of sleep, you know. That’s the secret to youth.” I smiled back at him. Everything right where it had always been because you don’t try to change the waves in the ocean, and Michael is just one among many.

The problem is thoughts like that make the tremor in my chest throttle.

Not that there’s anything to do about it. All one can do is ignore it and carry on. Try to do better despite it all.

So, this morning, I stepped into the all-staff meeting emboldened by that idea. Enough so, that as soon as the AOB opened up, I suggested a process for more dedicated collaboration between sales and finance on prospective purchases. Half the room didn’t hear me though. I cleared my throat to try again, but Michael cut in. He repeated my exact proposal as his own. Said it would speed up accounts payable.

His voice over my idea was met with nods.

My cube mate, Yasmine, told me not to worry, said she knew it was my idea, and patted me on the back. But that wasn’t enough. The pulse inside me settled into a hurried meter, getting stronger and stronger with each dissatisfying thought I tried to push down.

Until it could no longer be ignored away. Until I felt compelled to lean into the sound of my internal vibrations to drown out the voices around me. All of them replaced by the imagined noise of wind in my head. Loud, brisk and emphatic. So real, I could almost actually feel it whipping my hair around my face, strands getting stuck in my glossy lips.

It wasn’t until there was a hand on my shoulder that I realized it was more than a mental break. There was a real-life whirlwind circling around me in my cubicle. When I opened my eyes, calendars were flying off walls, pictures were crashing to the ground, and the water cooler was on its side.

“Are you okay?” a woman huffed, out of breath. I recognized her from the reception desk. She held out her hand, palm open. As she shouted at me to move, the wall to my cubicle flew away like something snatched it sideways.

“What’s happening?” I asked her.

“That’s up to you,” she yelled over the sound of the storm.

“I did this?”

She nodded and turned to the side, to reveal a big, beautiful black hole forming in the cubicle next to mine.

“Don’t worry,” she said as she yanked me away from the event horizon. “Happened to me at my last office.”

When Michael approached, his hands pumping downward, telling me to “calm down,” my cheeks pulled upwards because I knew I did this. That it was in me the whole time.

The hole amplified its gravitational pull. He keeled over, grabbed his stomach, and looked at me in terror while his whole body collapsed inside his belly button. Then, that speck vanished. All of it went into the inescapable darkness, until that, too, caved in on itself.

As soon as it came, it was gone. Family pictures floated back down to desktops, calendars settled on the wall showing today’s date, and the cubicles were back where they started. Everything returned, except Michael from accounting.

Kristy Crabtree

Kristy Crabtree (she/her) is a writer hailing from the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been published in The Riveter and The Intelligent Optimist, as well as several academic publications and newspapers. Find her on twitter @kristycrabtree, on insta @girlgetsbook, or

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