Story - Entropy

Art by: Lo

Story by: Lo 

“Let’s say that entropy is that something that helps us interpret disorder in a physical system. It is what makes energy find a balance.”

Professor McKellan had this way of embellishing the most tedious things, hoping to make them interesting. The real effect of his efforts was me hoping to be struck in the head by something heavy. I glanced at Josh, wishing he could read my mind and smash a chair on my head. At least then I’ll be allowed to sleep.

But no, Josh kept the chair tightly secured by his arse. No respite from him, now. He likes this entropy stuff too much.

I wondered, not for the first time, what it was like to be like him. He had his path laid out before him ever since he heard the word “physics”. Me… not so much. If at least I could see a thousand roads to take, maybe it’d be better: uncertain, but free to choose.

I can barely see tomorrow.

It was the bell that finally silenced professor McKellan and freed me of my musings. I had my fifteen minutes of respite, which Josh and I liked to spend in the courtyard, on what we called – with no real right to do so – “our” fence wall. It didn’t take long for Josh to notice my discomfort.

“You’re talking less than usual. Is everything okay?”

There was a long pause. It was hard to speak of this out loud.

“I don’t know. I just feel like I made the wrong choice with this school, Josh. I mean, you have it easy, you even like McKellan! But me… these teachers and their homework and their formulas… I don’t like it!”

“What would you like to do, then?”

There. I knew it. How could he understand? I don’t know, I told you!

I sighed, leaving his question unanswered. I got so easily angry at others for not immediately understanding me, like a spoiled child. How about that? Maybe it’s my fault if I don’t like anything.

Josh didn’t really expect a reply. He was looking ahead, brow furrowed, as though he were ordering his thoughts.

“Well, my friend, let’s try from another perspective. Just take that flower.”

Oh, yes, he’d definitely been preparing a speech.

“It has low entropy, right? All its molecules are static and so to our eyes it looks still. Just a simple, boring flower. But go back and think of everything that is behind it, all the work and entropy spent to create it. An insect moved the pollen from another flower; it brought it elsewhere, creating other flowers and other seeds that the wind carried all the way to our fence wall and on the dirt. Then, with rain, sunlight and some time the flower was born. But the insect? Where does it come from? And the wind? And the rain?”

“All I’m saying is, if you find the right question… then it never ends. There’s no such thing as boredom, if you don’t stop when you think it’s over.”

The bell was ringing again. Josh smiled at that sound, giving me a pat on the shoulder as he got up. I was not so quick to get back on my feet, and even then I walked a few steps behind him, wondering about his smile. He looked happy to go back to class. Was he? Or maybe he was eager to learn something new?

I stopped for a moment, looking at him going down the corridor.

There’s such a bright future ahead of you, Josh, I know it.

In that moment, I noticed I was smiling.