Shaina waited on the beach for Cliff to come down. The stars were watery above her head. What are the odds, she wondered, that my life feels the way I want it to, always? It depended on so many variables, each in changing relationships with known and unknown entities, and the entities too were in changing relationships with each other and themselves. Shaina waited for Cliff because he believed this web was navigatable. Cliff believed in Stephen Wolfram, and what Wolfram believed in could be found in the private world he moved through, tailed by young men with hair sticking out from behind their ears, watery eyes, reflective glasses. The key was computation.

Cliff built sequences that made parts inside computers move. Dance, he thought. "Move," he told Shaina, "I mean, that's really what it comes down to, in the end." It was their first date; the wine bar had a fireplace and they ate oysters, which Cliff had never eaten and Shaina loved. "I love them sooo much," she squealed. He never felt that way about anything, the way Shaina felt about oysters. He thought he might fall in love. "In the end?" she asked. "There is remarkable uniformity everywhere," he told her. "If you can make inanimate materials do math, in the end you can make everything do anything."

But did he believe it? That was the question Shaina thought about, in different words, on the beach while she waited. The answer's absence clung to the wet stars. It clung to the sky and the sky opened and suddenly there was rain in the air and on the beach and in her brown hair. Out past the beach crest was the house they rented for the week, and on the second floor there was a light and in that light Cliff sat, internet pornography on the computer screen, divided equally into pixels, fundamental cells of digital images, moving up and down. Dancing? He stared at the changing relationships.


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