The Proof

The frosted glass shimmered with the reflection of the firelight. And the sweet smell of the cherry-wood logs permeated the room. It was warm and cozy. Just the atmosphere that induced the pleasant euphoria so conducive to sleep.

But Whitney Turner had no desire to sleep. She’d slept enough. Now she was determined to conquer solving the problem. There was that one piece that eluded her. The one part of the equation that, she knew, would catapult all of the remainder of the proof.

Mathematics was a series of logical increments and one component, if correct, should lead to the next. Hadn’t Einstein struggled with the proof of relativity?

She’d presented her theory at the last conference and, while it had been received with considerable approbation, she’d yet to complete the proof that would fulfill  its destiny. Without the mathematical proof it would remain a theory and nothing more. Whitney was determined not to let that happen. She recognized that her place was all but ordained, but only if she could accomplish the proof, the goal of every theoretical mathematician.

Tonight, she felt, would be the night of her break-through.

She watched the fire, as if the flickering flames held the answer. The yellow and orange of the flames drew her focus, tantalizing her into a hypnotic state which, no matter how hard she fought, gradually overtook her.

“Liebchen. Wake up.”

The voice implored her. Repeated the phrase over and over yet only her mind seemed to respond, her body remained focused on the fire. The flickering flames held her as she continued to stare.

“Liebchen. Wake up.”

She heard the voice over and over in her mind. A disembodied voice.

But then she felt that there was a presence in the room. Nothing really tangible, but she felt it there.

Gradually the feeling continued to become more intense as the voice repeated the phrase.

Slowly the voice and the presence merged as her mind refocused into a new reality.

She looked around the room. Everything remained the same. It was her room. Her papers were on the desk in exactly the same place. The proof was still unfinished. Or was it?

She thought she was awake, but the voice continued to repeat the phrase.

She blinked her eyes and now she thought she saw a man standing and looking at her papers. A man with a large moustache and wild dishevelled hair. He was nodding as he studied her work. It was as if he approved what he saw.

She got up and went to her desk. Everything was exactly as she’d left it.

The man stood there, but the voice had stopped.

She sat down at her desk and studied the proof. The numbers and symbols seemed to dance before her eyes and the man stood and smiled just beside her. His presence permeated the room just as strongly as the aroma of the cherry-wood from the fire.

She began writing one line of the equation after another as if her pencil was being guided by an unknown source.

The man with the large moustache and wild hair continued to nod and smile as her speed increased, propelled by an inner force not of her own consciousness.

Gradually her pencil slowed down and stopped moving.

“Liebchen. Wake up.”

She heard the voice and opened her eyes. She wasn’t at her desk, but curled up on the couch in front of the fire which now was little more than red embers, almost extinguished.

The voice was gone as was the presence, replaced by what she knew was the missing piece that would allow her to complete the proof.

Had she dreamt it all? Had she had help? Was the man who she thought it was?

If the proof succeeded…

Whitney Turner walked to her desk.

For one fleeting instant she felt the presence of a smiling man with a large moustache and wild dishevelled hair and then it was gone.

She sat down, picked up her pencil and began to work.

The End


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