Him: I brought you a cup of coffee.
[He walks to where she is sitting and holds out the coffee to her. She looks at his hand and then at him without moving.]
Him: Oh, sorry.
[He places the drink on the table beside her and sits down across from her. She smiles at him as she picks up the cup.]
Her: Thank you.
[They both sip quietly from their drinks. She puts the coffee back on the side table.]
Her: So... / Him: I...
[Both begin to speak at once than stop. She gestures for him to go first.]
Him: I was a bit worried you might cancel.
Him: Well, I wasn't sure if the other night was breaking some kind of protocol for your research.
Her: Well, I admit that I did think about it, but technically as long as there was no physical contact there really is no break in protocol. I did record the incident, but you aren't the first volunteer that I have bumped into and conversed with outside of these four walls. Though you are the first that I have had dinner with.
Him: That's good. The not breaking protocol part I mean, not the first dinner date. Though, I'd be lying if I didn't say I was happy about the dinner.
[She smiled and shook her head at him.]
Her: So... / Him: Why...
[Both begin to speak at once than stop.
[Again, she gestures for him to go first.]
Him: Why would talking not make a difference where touching would?
Her: Um, because the experiences visualized during the physical contact is an integral part of the research.
Him: Yeah, but couldn't we just touch again, here?
[He gestured to the room around them.]
Her: Yes, but the first experience and the second experience wouldn't be the same. For control purposes, the protocol requires all contact to take place within the facility.
Him: Things change?
Her: Yes, every time. It's not about seeing the future, so much as seeing a possible future. When we know what the future holds, we tend to make changes and adjustments to alter certain, usually negative, experiences. This study focuses on how changing a small detail like not answering a phone call might effect the future and how changing a larger detail like an action that leads to an argument impacts the future. That's why after each physical contact, we debrief separately and then come back and discuss what alteration will try to change our reaction to.
Him: Can not answering a phone call really have that big of an effect?
Her: You would be surprised?
[She took another sip of her coffee.]
Him: See now here I thought you were using this as a way to find someone with whom you could have a happily ever after with.
[She shook her head.]
Her: Already found him. But my 'gift' can strain any relationship. He is now happily married with two beautiful little girls.
Him: I thought you said you never had a boyfriend?
Her: Actually, I believe I said I did not have a boyfriend. That does not mean I wasn't foolish enough to try a couple of times.
[She smiled and laughed.]
Her: My first boyfriend was in high school. I broke up with him when he tried to kiss me. Dating in high school didn't go to well after that.
Him: But you did date again?
Her: I was naive to try dating in college. That was a joke. That was probably when I decided not to date, ever. A couple of years after college, though, I met a guy who was very persuasive and when we finally did touch, the future was picturesque.
Him: So what happened?
Her: I'm not sure how to explain it. He's actually probably the reason I started this study. Knowing the future isn't all it is cracked up to be. It gets tiring and boring. You make little changes just to see what will happen. Eventually, while our future showed us together, we weren't has happy as we had been during the first foreseen future. He could see it in the visions and I could feel it. Things became strained. We decided it was best to call things quits.
Him: So, how long did you date?
Her: Just over a year.
Him: And that was it? Never dated again?
[She shook her head. They sat quietly for a few moments, each of them nursing their coffee.]
Her: So... / Him: Do people...
[They both began to speak again. This time he gestured for her to go first. She sighed.]
Her: Look, it's not that I don't mind explaining some of this stuff to you. Though, I'm not really use to or particularly comfortable talking so much about myself.
[She shook her head as she trailed off.]
Her: I understand if you are not comfortable with the prospect of seeing the future, so to speak. You wouldn't be the first person to steer clear of my touch. But you did volunteer for this. If you've changed your mind...
Him: I would have thought people would be jumping at an opportunity to see the future.
Her: You're changing the subject.
[He looked down at his cup watching his finger trace circles around the rim.]
Him: I know. I'm sorry. I haven't changed my mind. Not at all. I just guess that considering that touching is as good as having a full blown relationship, I just wanted to get to know you a bit before we dive in and get...down and dirt, so to speak.
[He looked up at her as he said 'so to speak'. She smiled at him. He returned her smile.]
Him: So not everybody jumps at the opportunity to know there future?
[She stared at him for a few moments.]
Her: No, but even if they did, the touch doesn't quite work like that.