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Upward Spiral

by Karen Bookman Kaplan

Upward Spiral synopsis

A professional inter-dimensional traveler, Iris Perle, is visiting a dimension she calls “Upward Spiral.” Her presence there cannot be detected. As events unfold she more and more intensely longs to be known to a sculptor named Clara and her friends, whom she has observed many times before. Iris’ yearnings lead to a surprise revelation, and Clara finds an answer to longings of a different sort.


I have decided to handle the putty as much as I can during his window of opportunity. I am handling it right now; Clara is away at her studio. For the first time I feel chilly in Upward Spiral; after all, it snows so often and apparently they are not as sensitive to the cold and do not heat their rooms much. Feel chilly?

I wonder to what degree I am detectable and to what degree I can experience their dimension. But as before, when I sit down on the sofa, I cannot feel my weight on it nor feel it supporting me, and so I suppose I cannot be detected by touch. I am stuck within a wall, not on one side and not on the other, present and not present, neither entirely dead nor entirely alive.

I go over to the bathroom mirror to make sure that I still cannot be seen; my image does not show. I of course would not want to be suddenly visible, a trespasser in someone’s very own home. Meanwhile I massage the putty, wondering how Clara’s group and I are going to reach across to each other despite the wall between dimensions, let alone our internal walls.

I wander into Clara’s mobile studio, which has been parked in the backyard of the apartment building. I see her idea book, and I wonder what she has written there recently. I cannot pick it up and open it, of course, because even though I can move through things, I cannot move them around.

Then I think of a solution: the putty! I can touch it and, yes, move it too. I take some, and have the nerve to apply it to the idea book cover, using its stickiness to open it. I put putty on both hands, placing one hand on the front cover and one on the back, and as I use the putty to anchor it, I can move my hands to tip the book back and forth just right to leaf through some but not all of the pages. I manage to get to the last page; and what do I see but the last few sentences I have just now written here, including this one!

When I release the book, no more of my sentences appear in it, including this one — such a relief! But lest you rush to brand me a liar, I’d better explain. I mean, how could I have my hands busy with Clara’s book, stuck to putty no less, and have them engaged in my continued writing at the same time?

Our technology in Dimension Monkey is such that I can write just via my thoughts, with brain impulses transmitting them through what we call a Thoughtcom. Then a mechanical device called a Thought Printer releases the results, immediately or at any chosen time delay on a durable medium such as fortified paper (paper preserved for posterity with resin-like chemicals). The marvel here is that my writing can simultaneously appear both in her book and also on my own manuscript, which is now some 18 pages long.

Well, now that I have steadied myself with this digression, I am standing here letting this gateway between Clara and me sink in. I no longer have to pound fruitlessly, unheard, on the window, no longer do I have to peer longingly into the walled-off garden of Upward Spiral.

I will place my hands and the putty back on the book, write a note to Clara, Hubert, Rose and Gray, and lift the book up and bring it to the meeting at week’s end. To avoid her seeing my entry before the meeting, I will have to take the book and keep it until then, risking her looking all around for it if she decides to write.

I have no choice; I do not want her to see the sentences I have already written there, and I cannot figure out how to erase them, beginning with “I can move my hands to tip the book back and forth just right to leaf through some but not all of the pages.” That would be such an anticlimactic start, or thought to be a prank by someone who snuck in and fooled with her book. And she would most probably be alone. Fortunately, the meeting is set for two days from now.

In the meantime, I will now compose the note, with the putty back on my hands, and the next paragraph is what they will see (that is, it will be the last one in her idea book); they will also find the putty next to the book, which is necessary anyway because I need to have the putty as my means of conveying the book to her apartment. I will place the putty where it had been and the book next to it. Here is the note:

Salutations to Clara, Rose, Hubert, and Gray: This is from the traveler from a dimension outside of yours, a traveler whose existence you so correctly guessed at.

I found out that by holding the putty and this book in my hands that when I write in my own manuscript — I am a travel writer — my thoughts simultaneously appear in your book. We can communicate at last! I hope you are all seeing this at your meeting; of course I will abide by your wishes, even if it means that I should stop this, and even if you would rather I stop visiting. I hope, though, that you will find this contact between dimensions a breakthrough. Your comments at your last meeting seem to indicate that you are open to adventure, too.

Please do ask me questions at the meeting, because I have no trouble hearing you and I will write again — since for now I do not know if any fuller kind of contact is possible or will become possible. I will write immediately in response, and you will see the words form right on the pages of your book (and which will incidentally also simultaneously appear in my own).

So here is a little bit about myself to start: I am, first of all, abashed to tell you I come from what you call Dimension Monkey, where you said thievery occurs at a much higher rate. All I can say is one reason I have been visiting here, is my admiration of your more ethical way of life, and the higher value placed on sparks of creativity.

Most of all, I am so enchanted with the lesser influences of fear and suspicion; it makes happiness so much more attainable. It would be incredible in my dimension for archaeologists like the ones you are with to hand over unknown objects to the general public.

It seems they are unconcerned with the possible monetary value, danger, or prized information those objects could have. And that you are all willing to see what would happen with this unknown object — the putty, I mean — and not be disabled by fears of becoming poisoned. Or at least not so afraid that you ended up avoiding it.

In case you are interested, I call your dimension Upward Spiral because it is a place that is aimed toward fulfillment much more than mine. Mine, I am ashamed to confess, is so much more concentrated on gaining power, even if violence is necessary.

A few more basics about myself: My name is Iris, I am 34 years old, and I have auburn hair. I used to work as a security guard, but over the past few years I have become a travel writer. I have written about all kinds of places, anything from local tours of a chocolate factory to cities in other countries. If I write about your dimension for the public, that will be the ultimate in travel writing I suppose! I will stop here, and let you respond.

Respectfully yours,

Iris Perle

I take the putty off my fingers, so that no more words will appear unbidden in Clara’s book. Now that I have gone and written this note, it seems that my fears are no longer a match for my curiosity and excitement at awaiting their response. I feel as if I had been poised on the top of a steep slide, and that once I took the defining moment of pushing myself just enough to be on my way and not too little to still be able to change my mind, I enjoyed the exhilaration of the ride.

But now, as I mull over what I have just done, the next emotion parading by is shame: all my previous time here has been nothing more than a charade. I have been in the void of being neither in my own world nor in Upward Spiral. I have dwelt in the non-world of not being in relation with anyone at all.

Even though I did not know how to enter this world before the putty provided an entranceway, I still feel guilty about having had the upper hand, as it were, in knowing all about them without Clara and her friends knowing anything whatsoever about me. What right did I have to do this without their knowledge? How will Clara feel about my knowing about her trip to the archaeological site? Perhaps all I deserve would be their disdain and their anger.

I could of course just disappear back to my home dimension and hope they think the letter was a prank done by one of them or someone else, but I am determined to throw my cowardice overboard. If nothing else, I must make restitution by facing them and being honest from now on. I cannot turn back any more than someone diving off a board into a pool can keep the water smooth upon impact, shielding it from disturbances.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2012 by Karen Bookman Kaplan

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