Title: Relativity
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Warnings: none
Category: Vignette
Spoilers: all things, The Field Where I Died, Monday
Summary: The ancient puzzle of free will versus predestination.
Disclaimer: I have borrowed many things here, including the characters of Mulder and Scully. I make no profit from this. Thanks to Tiny Dancer's Episode Guide for the transcripts of the above episodes, from which I quoted verbatim.
Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.

CLYDE BRUCKMAN: Imagine all the things that had to occur....
--"Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose"
SCULLY: While we - we - we just keep driving.
MULDER: It's an ouroboros ... The alchemists favored it. They
believe that it represented all of existence.

He is warm against me as we sit on this leather couch. His voice is soothing as he answers me, its gravel texture lulling my senses.

"And all the... choices would then lead to this very moment. One wrong turn, and.... we wouldn't be sitting here together. Well, that says a lot." I cannot keep my eyes open. The hypnotic rhythm softens my muscles, and the wave of sleep washes over me. My eyes close, and I can still hear him, a distant rumble, "That says a lot, a lot, a lot. That's probably more than we should be getting into at this late hour."

His voice fades out, and I can feel him shift his weight, a subtle movement. In the grips of sleep I am held still, and no reaction shows when he feather-softly caresses the hair from my face and curls it round my ear.

I must be dreaming now. He moves away from me, but I can still hear his voice, dim sounds, a memory maybe of things he has said to me, ...somebody told you that... we'd been friends together in other lifetimes... wouldn't it have changed some of the ways we looked at each other?

I shake my head--No, I think that we're free to be the people that we are--good, bad or indifferent. I think that it's our character that determines our fate.

He sounds frustrated--And all the rest is just preordained?

I have no answer for him. The minute wisps of dust swirl in the light he disturbs as he leaves me. Even in dreams, he conquers my offense. I am forever questioning his theories, and he never answers my questions.

The door closes...and my eyes slowly open. In the languor of sleep, my body feels weak, unable to move. What woke me? I stretch, and the blanket slides from my shoulders. His door is closed.

"And all the rest is just preordained?" I can almost taste the words that follow, almost form them.... When has he said those words to me? The memory escapes me, and the sense of déjà vu is so strong; ...repressed memories escaping the unconscious... his voice slides in my mind.

I pull the blanket back up to my chin and bring my prickling legs to rest on the couch.

Fate or free will? For the ancient Greeks, fate was not a philosophy, but a fact, the three goddesses weaving a tangible web. The tapestry of each life was carefully constructed, twisted into others so carefully that each choice touched and depended on the other. Edith Hamilton's adaptation of the story of Admetus dances in my memory.

Is it free will that orders our existence or is it the higher power taught in the impersonal catechism that leads us, that lets us make our choices, and never interferes when we have wandered off to pick that tempting fruit, those blackberries we never washed?

Itching feet and itching fingers led me off into the briar patches; I had no care for the scratches I received, the long red welts cleaned at the end of the day by my mother's gentle hands. Each day was long, long and sunny, the warmth soaking me, infusing me with life.

I can see myself, little Dana, long blond hair, stretching to reach that final blackberry. In the late sun, the green bed was never more alive.

What choices did we make then? We were children, and the higher power ruled our lives, made choices for us. We could not even see our innocence. And the days grew shorter and the choices were thrust upon us, and we could no longer luxuriate in the long summer sun.

Time is relative, Einstein proved, not a universal invariant. To the observer each frame of reference is different. To the child, the days are long; to the adult the days are short. Words from my senior thesis come back to me: "In fact, all physical processes appear to slow down when viewed from a different uniformly moving frame."

Today, the long days of childhood were summoning me. Slowed, each moment was precious, and each moment led to a revelation that whispered, and it told me, with the subtle swish of leaves in a tree, to take stock of each precious moment before it passes.

Each choice, each moment led to an irrevocable puncture in the tapestry of fate, and each choice I have made, has led me here, where I rest on my best friend's couch, the leather soft under me. I have seen those endless forks in the road that have shaped my life. I cannot change them.

So I sleep.


References (for those interested):

Admetus--Apollo's son, Aesculapius, made Hades jealous because he raised the dead. He was killed by Zeus, and Apollo, in retribution, executed the makers of Zeus' thunderbolts. His punishment was to live as a servant to a mortal. He chose Admetus, who treated him well. As reward, Apollo assisted Admetus in winning his wife, Alcestis. One day he heard that the Fates were about to cut Admetus' thread of life. He "obtained from them a respite" in the form of the promise that if someone else died in Admetus' place, he would live. No one except Alcestis was willing to do it. So she died, and in the midst of the mourning, Hercules came to visit. When he learned Alcestis was dead, he fought death for her and returned her to Admetus. (Mythology, Edith Hamilton)

The quote, "In fact, all physical processes appear to slow down when viewed from a different uniformly moving frame" is actually from a paper (Physics 1501-Modern Technology by Randy Kobes and Gabor Kunstatter) found at http://theory.uwinnipeg.ca/mod_tech/tech.html Used without permission. I recommend reading the chapter on Special Relativity--it will explain a lot from the pilot of The X-Files, and explode a few fallacies--Scully could not possibly have re-interpreted Einstein's Twin Paradox.