Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger Read Online (FREE)
Originally published: April 2, 2019
Author: Nell Freudenberger
Genre: Domestic Fiction
ENTANGLEMENT CHAPTER 1
In the first few months after Charlie died, I began hearing from her much more frequently. This was even more surprising than it might have been, since Charlie wasn’t a good correspondent even when she was alive.
I should say right away that I don’t believe in ghosts—although I’ve learned that forty-five percent of Americans do—at least not in the sense of the glaucous beings who appear on staircases, in abandoned farmyards, or on the film or digital records of events that absolutely did not include, say, a brown dog in the lower left-hand corner, or a man standing behind the altar in a black hood.
Charlie died in Los Angeles, on a Tuesday night in June. I was in Boston and I didn’t know; we hadn’t spoken for over a year. People talk about a cold wind, or a pain in the chest, but I didn’t feel anything like that. On Wednesday at about noon, my phone rang. Or rather, I happened to be looking through my bag for my wallet, and I saw that the screen was illuminated: “Charlie.” I grabbed the phone and answered before I could think any of the obvious things, such as why pick up right away or it’s been more than a year or what are you to her anymore?
I heard a shuffling, something lightweight falling to the floor. Empty boxes, maybe.
I said her name again, and then I lost the call. I called her back, but no one picked up. I felt foolish and unaccountably disappointed. I vowed that if she tried again, I wouldn’t pick up. I would wait a few days before deciding whether I even wanted to call her back.
ENTANGLEMENT CHAPTER 2
I became Frederick B. Blumhagen Professor of Theoretical Physics at MIT in 2004, just after I turned thirty-three. This was the year after Neel Jonnal and I published our AdS/CFT model for quark gluon plasma as a dual black hole in curved five-dimensional spacetime. I was subsequently invited to every physics conference and festival from Aspen to Tokyo to Switzerland, and accepted as many as I could get away with, at least of those that didn’t ask me to speak on the subject of Women in Science.
Five years after Neel and I gave birth to our eponymous model, the Clapp-Jonnal, I gave birth to Jack. I’m what is called a single mother “by choice,” which means that I decided to give up on the fantasy that a man with the intelligence and ambition required to interest me in the long term would arrive at the perfect reproductive moment, and be willing to give up a certain measure of professional success to contribute to the manual labor involved in raising a child. (Charlie’s solution—finding a man who seemed to have no ambition other than to be with her and raise the child—struck me as workable, if you could be attracted to a person like that.)