Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

by Gabrielle Zevin

Narrated by Jennifer Kim, Julian Cihi

Unabridged — 13 hours, 52 minutes

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

by Gabrielle Zevin

Narrated by Jennifer Kim, Julian Cihi

Unabridged — 13 hours, 52 minutes

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Notes From Your Bookseller

If you believe in a thing called love (in all of its forms), hop into this journey across time and distance (and pixels) and dig into the universal importance of friendship, human connection, and beyond.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ¿ Sam and Sadie-two college friends, often in love, but never lovers-become creative partners in a dazzling and intricately imagined world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality. It is a love story, but not one you have heard before.

"Delightful and absorbing." -The New York Times ¿ "Utterly brilliant." -John Green

One of the New York Times's 100 Best Books of the 21st Century ¿ One of the Best Books of the Year: The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, TIME, GoodReads, Oprah Daily

From the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn't heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom.

These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won't protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin's Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

Editorial Reviews

JULY 2022 - AudioFile

Jennifer Kim’s narration shows an understanding of how relaxed pacing can lead to poignancy. Kim portrays three young gaming geniuses, Sadie, Sam and Marx. Gradually, she reveals their relationships as she powerfully expresses how talent and collaboration yield success—but not without trials. Sadie feels unrecognized, and Sam is traumatized by the accident that caused his mother’s death and his own shattered foot. Marx is likened to a minor NPC, nonplayable game character, until Julian Cihi delivers a short second-person section from Marx’s point of view. His voice is soft, distant, and dreamy as the hero hovers between life and death. This novel’s meaningful metaphors are one more facet of the audio that will be loved by gamers and non-gamers alike. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine

Publishers Weekly

★ 04/18/2022

Zevin (Young Jane Young) returns with an exhilarating epic of friendship, grief, and computer game development. In 1986, Sadie Green, 11, visits a children’s hospital where her sister is recovering from cancer. There, she befriends another patient, a 12-year-old Korean Jewish boy named Sam Masur, who has a badly injured foot, and the two bond over their love for video games. Their friendship ruptures, however, after Sam discovers Sadie’s been tallying the visits to fulfill her bat mitzvah service. Years later, they reconnect while attending college in Boston. Sam is wowed by a game Sadie developed, called Solution. In it, a player who doesn’t ask questions will unknowingly build a widget for the Third Reich, thus forcing the player to reflect on the impact of their moral choices. He proposes they design a game together, and relying on help from his charming, wealthy Japanese Korean roommate, Marx, and Sadie’s instructor cum abusive lover, Dov, they score a massive hit with Ichigo, inspired by The Tempest. In 2004, their virtual world-builder Mapletown allows for same-sex marriages, drawing ire from conservatives, and a violent turn upends everything for Sam and Sadie. Zevin layers the narrative with her characters’ wrenching emotional wounds as their relationships wax and wane, including Sadie’s resentment about sexism in gaming, Sam’s loss of his mother, and his foot amputation. Even more impressive are the visionary and transgressive games (another, a shooter, is based on the poems of Emily Dickinson). This is a one-of-a-kind achievement. Agent: Doug Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)

From the Publisher


One of the Best Books of the Year: The New York Times, TIME, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Oprah Daily, Slate,, Bookpage, Kirkus, SheReads, GoodReads, Goop, and The What List

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year A Jimmy Fallon Book Club Pick • A Time Must-Read Book of the Year A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction • BookPage Best Fiction of the Year

"Delightful and absorbing...Zevin burns precisely zero calories arguing that game designers are creative artists of the highest order. Instead, she accepts that as a given, and wisely so, for the best of them plainly are...Expansive and entertaining...Dozens of Literary Gamers will cherish the world she’s lovingly conjured. Meanwhile, everyone else will wonder what took them so long to recognize in video games the beauty and drama and pain of human creation."
—Tom Bissell, The New York Times

"A tour de force... A moving demonstration of the blended power of fiction and gaming....Zevin describes herself as 'a lifelong gamer.' That level of experience could very well have produced a story of hermetically sealed nostalgia impenetrable to anyone who doesn’t still own a copy of 'Space Invaders.' But instead, she’s written a novel that draws any curious reader into the pioneering days of a vast entertainment industry too often scorned by bookworms. And with the depth and sensitivity of a fine fiction writer, she argues for the abiding appeal of the flickering screen."
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“Whatever its subject, when a novel is powerful enough, it transports us readers deep into worlds not our own. That's true of Moby Dick, and it's certainly true of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which renders the process of designing a great video game as enthralling as the pursuit of that great white whale….There are…smart ruminations here about cultural appropriation, given that the game, Ichigo, is inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai's famous painting The Great Wave at Kanagawa….It's a big, beautifully written novel about an underexplored topic, that succeeds in being both serious art and immersive entertainment.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

"Engrossing....Though it contains plenty of nostalgia for the pioneer age of 1990s game design, this isn’t primarily a novel of nerdy insider references....Videogames happen to be the medium by which [Zevin's characters] best express themselves and share in each other’s life."
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“Woven throughout [Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow] are meditations on originality, appropriation, the similarities between video games and other forms of art, the liberating possibilities of inhabiting a virtual world, and the ways in which platonic love can be deeper and more rewarding—especially in the context of a creative partnership—than romance.”
The New Yorker

"Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a celebration of the narratives, in video games and in life, that reinforce just how important connection really is. In following Sam and Sadie’s journey from Massachusetts to California and into the imagined worlds of their games, Zevin writes the most precious kind of love story."
—Annabel Gutterman, Time

“The story of three brilliant kids who found a videogame company, this book is about so much more—friendship, love, loyalty, violence in America and the magic of invented worlds. Gorgeous.”
—Kim Hubbard, People

"Zevin is a great writer who makes you care deeply about her characters....Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow resonated with me for personal reasons, but I think Zevin’s exploration of partnership and collaboration is worth reading no matter who you are. Even if you’re skeptical about reading a book about video games, the subject is a terrific metaphor for human connection."
—Bill Gates

"You don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate the pulsing heart of this best-seller: In a story spanning three decades and references from Oregon Trail to Macbeth, Gabrielle Zevlin has written a modern, definitive story about work, love, and friends for whom you’d do and risk everything."
—Keely Weiss and Halie Lesavage, Harper’s Bazaar

“A remarkably absorbing portrait of friendship, identity, and the urge to create something beautiful, whether it be on the page or in pixels….Zevin…clearly knows her way around an RPG, but it's the analog intimacy of Tomorrow's wise, sensitive storytelling that stays.”
—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

"I’ve never played a video game in my life, and I was sucked into this book like it was Halo and I was a socially awkward tween in 2001. Really, this isn’t just a book for people who understand life through the pixels, but for people who understand life through stories."
—Jenny Singer, Glamour

"One of the most special novels written in the past decade. This story follows two friends who form a thrilling creative partnership that drives them together and apart over the course of their young lives."
—Kiki Koroshetz, Goop

"Utterly absorbing...Until I read Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, I had never heard of anyone playing games the way my husband and I play games, the way that Sam and Sadie do—on campaign mode but passing the controller back and forth. It takes a shattering lack of ego to play this way, knowing that someone else has the power to make a decision that would change the storyline or garner the skills to play through certain sequences that you’ll never see again. All that matters when you play like this is that you’re moving forward, and you’re together."
—Adrienne So, Wired

“This is a boy meets girl story that is never a romance – though it is romantic… Zevin blurs the lines between reality and play... Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is an artfully balanced novel – charming but never saccharine. The world Zevin has created is textured, expansive and, just like those built by her characters, playful.”
—Pippa Bailey, The Guardian

"Two friends, who are often in love, but never lovers, must contend with the fame, joy and tragedy that comes with success after they enter the world of video game design. Spanning three decades and multiple locations, this love story by The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry author is anything but predictable."
E! News, Tierney Bricker

"Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a decade-spanning feat in storytelling, switching perspectives as the story winds through the years."
—Elena Nicolaou, TODAY Show

"Despite [her] fantastical virtual worlds woven in lush detail, Zevin wants us to take a hard look beyond the screen...At its heart, Tomorrow is a coming-of-age tale stretched, in so many ways, by grief and hurt. This is Zevin’s tough love: There is no shortage of misfortune in life. Take a deep breath. Click continue....Tomorrow is not the type of book to accept a game over. It clutches onto that innocent hope ingrained in all video games."
The Washington Post

“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow…is buoyant despite the illness and pain that speckles its characters’ lives because they hope to meet again, to play again, to build again like gods….This book, with its respect for craft—the craft of love and games, or loving games—will remind you of how abundant one life is, how lucky we are to keep each other in our memories forever.”
—Ashley Bardhan, Kotaku

"This is a great novel. Zevin has the ability to make you care about her creations within paragraphs of meeting them....The book is rich with characters whose intertwined fates power the narrative...We are glad of the privilege of accompanying Sam and Sadie on the adventure of growing up and discovering who they are, and wondering who they might have been."
—Erica Wagner, The Financial Times

"If your Insta and #BookTok feeds are filled with pics of this read...there's a reason why....Trust us when we say to give it a shot....You'll follow [Sam and Sadie] over the course of decades, from Massachusetts to California, as they deal with ambition, loss, success, and heartache. We're not crying, you are." 
The Skimm

"Gabrielle Zevin’s potent new novel feature[s] a memorable and oddly stirring meet-cute, with Sam getting the attention of his long-ago childhood friend Sadie by shouting across a crowded train platform that she 'has died of dysentery.' If you picked up on that Oregon Trail reference, you may appreciate this funny, unpredictable story of love and video games set in the late ‘90s, a time when a couple of indie programmers like Sam and Sadie could take the world by storm with nothing but a good idea and a stack of floppy disks."
—Patrick Rapa, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Utterly brilliant. In this sweeping, gorgeously written novel, Gabrielle Zevin charts the beauty, tenacity, and fragility of human love and creativity. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is one of the best books I've ever read." 
—John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed

“My #1 book to recommend…Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow… [is]  incredible, like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon meets The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. It’s about love and friendship and video games.”
—Emma Straub, Cup of Jo

“Is there such a thing as the Great American Gamer Novel? Because if not, I believe Gabrielle Zevin just invented it. She has crafted a brilliant story about life’s most challenging puzzles: friendship, family, love, loss. By turns funny, poignant, wistful, and occasionally devastating, this book absolutely pwned me—in the very best way.”
—Nathan Hill, author of The Nix

"Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a beautifully wrought saga of human connection and the creative process, of love and all of its complicated levels. A gem of a novel, intimate yet sweeping, modern yet timeless. Bits of this book lingered in my head the way ghosts of Tetris pieces continue to fall in your mind’s eye after playing."
—Erin Morgenstern, author of The Starless Sea

"Gabrielle Zevin has written an exquisite love letter to life with all its rose gardens and minefields. With wisdom and vulnerability, she explores the very nature of human connection. This novel, and its unforgettable characters, know no boundaries. To read this book is to laugh, to mourn, to learn, and to grow."
—Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

"Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
is the sort of book that comes around once in a decade—a magnificent feat of storytelling. It is a book about the intersection between love and friendship, work and vocation, and the impossible and relentless pull of our own west-bound destinies. Gabrielle Zevin is one of our greatest living novelists, and Tomorrow just may be her magnum opus. Remarkable."
—Rebecca Serle, author of In Five Years

“A polished, thoughtful novel about loyalty and love that, like the best video games, grows more absorbing the further you venture into it."
—Connie Ogle, The Star Tribune

"Zevin has written a fascinating novel about two friends who collaborate on designing video games. These games are so imaginative and innovative that you will wish you could actually play them."
Wisconsin Public Radio

“[A] brilliant tale of identity, human connection, and yes, love in all of its myriad of forms.”
—Sabienna Bowman, PopSugar

“If you’re into video games, this extraordinary coming-of-age/love story/social novel has your name on it. The story follows terrific characters from youth into their adult lives as founders of a successful gaming company. Even if you couldn’t care less about video games, Zevin’s signature narrative charms will still keep you riveted.”
—Marion Winik, Newsday

"The brilliance of Zevin’s tour de force is that you can come into this book with zero gaming knowledge and be blown away by her insights on the human condition, her prodigious capacity for storytelling, and how she weaves it all together — brilliant and brilliantly." 
—The Bridge

"Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before. Taking place over 30 years, this dazzling and intricately imagined novel by Gabrielle Zevin examines the nature of identity, disability, failure, and above all, our need to connect. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is one of our most anticipated books of the summer and we can’t wait for you to read it." 
B&N Reads

“[This] novel explores themes of identity, disability, play and love in an unforgettable and richly imaginative way.” 
—She Reads

"Zevin… returns with an exhilarating epic of friendship, grief, and computer game development…. Zevin layers the narrative with her characters’ wrenching emotional wounds as their relationships wax and wane... Even more impressive are the visionary and transgressive games… This is a one-of-a-kind achievement.”
Publishers Weekly, starred

“Riveting… Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming…Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise…Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.”
Kirkus, starred

"Zevin creates beautifully flawed characters often caught between the real and gaming worlds, which are cleverly juxtaposed to highlight their similarities and differences. Both readers of love stories and gamers will enjoy. Highly recommended."
—Library Journal, starred

"It’s impossible to predict how, exactly, you’ll fall in love with Gabrielle Zevin’s novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, but it’s an eventuality you can’t escape... Her artistic, inclusive world is filled with characters so genuine and endearing that you may start caring for them as if they were real. Above all, her development of Sam and Sadie’s relationship is pure wizardry; it’s deep and complex, transcending anything we might call a love story. Whether you care about video games or not is beside the point. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is the novel you’ve been waiting to read."
—Chika Gujarathi, BookPage

Library Journal

★ 07/01/2022

In her latest, best-selling novelist Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry) creates a story about the wild ups and downs of friendship and love. It opens with Sadie keeping her sister company during cancer treatments at the hospital, where Sam is anticipating surgery on his badly mangled foot. When they meet in the hospital game room and play a computer game together, a nurse asks Sadie to come back for more gaming with Sam. More than 600 hospital visits later, they have a fight and don't speak again for six years. Finally reconnecting as college students in Boston, they begin designing games together, and Sam's roommate, Marx, helps them launch and run a business they call Unfair Games. Their first game is a big success, which unfortunately brings out the worst in each of them. As the business expands, so do the jealousies and disagreements, even when they become a couple. Eventually, their relationship is tested by tragedy. VERDICT Zevin creates beautifully flawed characters often caught between the real and gaming worlds, which are cleverly juxtaposed to highlight their similarities and differences. Both readers of love stories and gamers will enjoy. Highly recommended.—Joanna M. Burkhardt

JULY 2022 - AudioFile

Jennifer Kim’s narration shows an understanding of how relaxed pacing can lead to poignancy. Kim portrays three young gaming geniuses, Sadie, Sam and Marx. Gradually, she reveals their relationships as she powerfully expresses how talent and collaboration yield success—but not without trials. Sadie feels unrecognized, and Sam is traumatized by the accident that caused his mother’s death and his own shattered foot. Marx is likened to a minor NPC, nonplayable game character, until Julian Cihi delivers a short second-person section from Marx’s point of view. His voice is soft, distant, and dreamy as the hero hovers between life and death. This novel’s meaningful metaphors are one more facet of the audio that will be loved by gamers and non-gamers alike. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2022-04-13
The adventures of a trio of genius kids united by their love of gaming and each other.

When Sam Masur recognizes Sadie Green in a crowded Boston subway station, midway through their college careers at Harvard and MIT, he shouts, “SADIE MIRANDA GREEN. YOU HAVE DIED OF DYSENTERY!” This is a reference to the hundreds of hours—609 to be exact—the two spent playing “Oregon Trail” and other games when they met in the children’s ward of a hospital where Sam was slowly and incompletely recovering from a traumatic injury and where Sadie was secretly racking up community service hours by spending time with him, a fact which caused the rift that has separated them until now. They determine that they both still game, and before long they’re spending the summer writing a soon-to-be-famous game together in the apartment that belongs to Sam's roommate, the gorgeous, wealthy acting student Marx Watanabe. Marx becomes the third corner of their triangle, and decades of action ensue, much of it set in Los Angeles, some in the virtual realm, all of it riveting. A lifelong gamer herself, Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming. For example, here’s the passage introducing the professor Sadie is sleeping with and his graphic engine, both of which play a continuing role in the story: “The seminar was led by twenty-eight-year-old Dov Mizrah....It was said of Dov that he was like the two Johns (Carmack, Romero), the American boy geniuses who'd programmed and designed Commander Keen and Doom, rolled into one. Dov was famous for his mane of dark, curly hair, wearing tight leather pants to gaming conventions, and yes, a game called Dead Sea, an underwater zombie adventure, originally for PC, for which he had invented a groundbreaking graphics engine, Ulysses, to render photorealistic light and shadow in water.” Readers who recognize the references will enjoy them, and those who don't can look them up and/or simply absorb them. Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise.

Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176476019
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 07/05/2022
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,130

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Before Mazer invented himself as Mazer, he was Samson Mazer, and before he was Samson Mazer, he was Samson Masur—a change of two letters that transformed him from a nice, ostensibly Jewish boy to a Professional Builder of Worlds—and for most of his youth, he was Sam, S.A.M. on the hall of fame of his grandfather’s Donkey Kong machine, but mainly Sam.

On a late December afternoon, in the waning twentieth century, Sam exited a subway car and found the artery to the escalator clogged by an inert mass of people, who were gaping at a station advertisement. Sam was late. He had a meeting with his academic adviser that he had been postponing for over a month, but that everyone agreed absolutely needed to happen before winter break. Sam didn’t care for crowds—being in them, or whatever foolishness they tended to enjoy en masse. But this crowd would not be avoided. He would have to force his way through it if he were to be delivered to the aboveground world.

Sam wore an elephantine navy wool peacoat that he had inherited from his roommate, Marx, who had bought it freshman year from the Army Navy Surplus Store in town. Marx had left it moldering in its plastic shopping bag just short of an entire semester before Sam asked if he might borrow it. That winter had been unrelenting, and it was an April nor’easter (April! What madness, these Massachusetts winters!) that finally wore Sam’s pride down enough to ask Marx for the forgotten coat. Sam pretended that he liked the style of it, and Marx said that Sam might as well take it, which is what Sam knew he would say. Like most things purchased from the Army Navy Surplus Store, the coat emanated mold, dust, and the perspiration of dead boys, and Sam tried not to speculate why the garment had been surplussed. But the coat was far warmer than the windbreaker he had brought from California his freshman year. He also believed that the large coat worked to conceal his size. The coat, its ridiculous scale, only made him look smaller and more childlike.

That is to say, Sam Masur at age twenty-one did not have a build for pushing and shoving and so, as much as possible, he weaved through the crowd, feeling somewhat like the doomed amphibian from the video game Frogger. He found himself uttering a series of “excuse mes” that he did not mean. A truly magnificent thing about the way the brain was coded, Sam thought, was that it could say “Excuse me” while meaning “Screw you.” Unless they were unreliable or clearly established as lunatics or scoundrels, characters in novels, movies, and games were meant to be taken at face value—the totality of what they did or what they said. But people—the ordinary, the decent and basically honest—couldn’t get through the day without that one indispensable bit of programming that allowed you to say one thing and mean, feel, even do, another.

“Can’t you go around?” a man in a black and green macramé hat yelled at Sam.

“Excuse me,” Sam said.

“Dammit, I almost had it,” a woman with a baby in a sling muttered as Sam passed in front of her.

“Excuse me,” Sam said.

Occasionally, someone would hastily leave, creating gaps in the crowd. The gaps should have been opportunities of escape for Sam, but somehow, they immediately filled with new humans, hungry for diversion.

He was nearly to the subway’s escalator when he turned back to see what the crowd had been looking at. Sam could imagine reporting the congestion in the train station, and Marx saying, “Weren’t you even curious what it was? There’s a world of people and things, if you can manage to stop being a misanthrope for a second.” Sam didn’t like Marx thinking of him as a misanthrope, even if he was one, and so, he turned. That was when he espied his old comrade, Sadie Green.

It wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen her at all in the intervening years. They had been habitués of science fairs, academic games, college recruitment events, competitions (oratory, robotics, creative writing, programming), banquets for top students. Because whether you went to a mediocre public high school in the east (Sam), or a fancy private school in the west (Sadie), the Los Angeles smart-kid circuit was the same. They would exchange glances across a room of nerds—sometimes, she’d even smile at him, as if to corroborate their détente—and then she would be swept up in the vulturine circle of attractive, smart kids that always surrounded her. Boys and girls like himself, but wealthier, whiter, and with better glasses and teeth. And he did not want to be one more ugly, nerdy person hovering around Sadie Green. Sometimes, he would make a villain of her and imagine ways that she had slighted him: that time she had turned away from him; that time she had avoided his eyes. But she hadn’t done those things—it would have been almost better if she had.

He had known that she had gone to MIT and had wondered if he might run into her when he got into Harvard. For two and half years, he had done nothing to force such an occasion. Neither had she.

But there she was: Sadie Green, in the flesh. And to see her almost made him want to cry. It was as if she were a mathematical proof that had eluded him for many years, but all at once, with fresh, well-rested eyes, the proof had a completely obvious solution. There’s Sadie, he thought. Yes.

He was about to call her name, but then he didn’t. He felt overwhelmed by how much time had passed since he and Sadie had last been alone together. How could a person still be as young as he objectively knew himself to be and have had so much time pass? And why was it suddenly so easy to forget that he despised her? Time, Sam thought, was a mystery. But with a second’s reflection, he thought better of such sentiment. Time was mathematically explicable; it was the heart—the part of the brain represented by the heart—that was the mystery.

Sadie finished staring at whatever the crowd was staring at, and now she was walking toward the inbound Red Line train.

Sam called her name, “SADIE!” In addition to the rumble of the incoming train, the station was roaring with the usual humanity. A teenage girl played Penguin Cafe Orchestra on a cello for tips. A man with a clipboard asked passersby if they could spare a moment for Muslim refugees in Srebrenica. Adjacent to Sadie was a stand selling six-dollar fruit shakes. The blender had begun to whir, diffusing the scent of citrus and strawberries through the musty, subterranean air, just as Sam had first called her name. “Sadie Green!” he called out again. Still she didn’t hear him. He quickened his pace, as much as he could. When he walked quickly, he counterintuitively felt like a person in a three-legged race.


Finally, she turned. She scanned the crowd slowly and when she spotted Sam, the smile spread over her face like a time-lapse video he had once seen in a high school physics class of a rose in bloom. It was beautiful, Sam thought, and perhaps, he worried, a tad ersatz. She walked over to him, still smiling—one dimple on her right cheek, an almost imperceptibly wider gap between the two middle teeth on the top—and he thought that the crowd seemed to part for her, in a way that the world never moved for him.

“It’s my sister who died of dysentery, Sam Masur,” Sadie said. “I died of exhaustion, following a snakebite.”

“And of not wanting to shoot the bison,” Sam said.

“It’s wasteful. All that meat just rots.”

Sadie threw her arms around him. “Sam Masur! I kept hoping I’d run into you.”

“I’m in the directory,” Sam said.

“Well, maybe I hoped it would be organic,” Sadie said. “And now it is.”

“What brings you to Harvard Square?” Sam asked.

“Why, the Magic Eye, of course,” she said playfully. She gestured in front of her, toward the advertisement. For the first time, Sam registered the 60-by-40-inch poster that had transformed commuters into a zombie horde.



The imagery on the poster was a psychedelic pattern in Christmas tones of emerald, ruby, and gold. If you stared at the pattern long enough, your brain would trick itself into seeing a hidden 3D image. It was called an autostereogram, and it was easy to make one if you were a modestly skilled programmer. This? Sam thought. The things people find amusing. He groaned.

“You disapprove?” Sadie said.

“This can be found in any dorm common room on campus.”

“Not this particular one, Sam. This one’s unique to—”

“Every train station in Boston.”

“Maybe the U.S.?” Sadie laughed. “So, Sam, don’t you want to see the world with magic eyes?”

“I’m always seeing the world with magic eyes,” he said. “I’m exploding with childish wonder.”

Sadie pointed toward a boy of about six: “Look how happy he is! He’s got it now! Well done!”

“Have you seen it?” Sam asked.

“I didn’t see it yet,” Sadie admitted. “And now, I really do have to catch this next train, or I’ll be late for class.”

“Surely, you have another five minutes so that you can see the world with magic eyes,” Sam said.

“Maybe next time.”

“Come on, Sadie. There’ll always be another class. How many times can you look at something and know that everyone around you is seeing the same thing or at the very least that their brains and eyes are responding to the same phenomenon? How much proof do you ever have that we’re all in the same world?”

Sadie smiled ruefully and punched Sam lightly on the shoulder. “That was about the most Sam thing you could have said.”

“Sam I am.”

She sighed as she heard the rumble of her train leaving the station. “If I fail Advanced Topics in Computer Graphics, it’s your fault. She repositioned herself so that she was looking at the poster again. “You do it with me, Sam.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Sam squared his shoulders, and he stared straight ahead. He had not stood this near to Sadie in years.

Directions on the poster said to relax one’s eyes and to concentrate on a single point until a secret image emerged. If that didn’t work, they suggested coming closer to the poster and then slowly backing up, but there wasn’t room for that in the train station. In any case, Sam didn’t care what the secret image was. He could guess that it was a Christmas tree, an angel, a star, though probably not a Star of David, something seasonal, trite, and broadly appealing, something meant to sell more Magic Eye products. Autostereograms had never worked for Sam. He theorized it was something to do with his glasses. The glasses, which corrected a significant myopia, wouldn’t let his eyes relax enough for his brain to perceive the illusion. And so, after a respectable amount of time (fifteen seconds), Sam stopped trying to see the secret image and studied Sadie instead.

Her hair was shorter and more fashionable, he guessed, but it was the same mahogany waves that she’d always had. The light freckling on her nose was the same, and her skin was still olive, though she was much paler than when they were kids in California, and her lips were chapped. Her eyes were the same brown, with golden flecks. Anna, his mother, had had similar eyes, and she’d told Sam that coloration like this was called heterochromia. At the time, he had thought it sounded like a disease, something for his mother to potentially die from. Beneath Sadie’s eyes were barely perceptible crescents, but then, she’d had these as a kid too. Still, he felt she seemed tired. Sam looked at Sadie, and he thought, This is what time travel is. It’s looking at a person, and seeing them in the present and the past, concurrently. And that mode of transport only worked with those one had known a significant time.

“I saw it!” she said. Her eyes were bright, and she wore an expression he remembered from when she was eleven.

Sam quickly turned his gaze back to the poster.

“Did you see it?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I saw it.”

Sadie looked at him. “What did you see?”

“It,” Sam said. “It was amazingly great. Terribly festive.”

“Did you actually see it?” Sadie’s lips were twitching upward. Those heterochromic eyes looked at him with mirth.

“Yes, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else who hasn’t.” He gestured toward the horde.

“Okay, Sam,” Sadie said. “That’s thoughtful of you.”

He knew she knew that he hadn’t seen it. He smiled at her, and she smiled at him.

“Isn’t it strange?” Sadie said. “I feel like I never stopped seeing you. I feel like we come down to this T station to stare at this poster every day.”

“We grok,” Sam said.

“We do grok. And I take back what I said before. That is the Sammest thing you could have said.”

“Sammest I Ammest. You’re—” As he was speaking, the blender began to whir again.

“What?” she said.

“You’re in the wrong square,” he repeated.

“What’s the ‘wrong square’?”

“You’re in Harvard Square, when you should be in Central Square or Kendall Square. I think I heard you’d gone to MIT.”

“My boyfriend lives around here,” Sadie said, in a way that indicated she had no more she wished to say on that subject. “I wonder why they’re called squares. They’re not really squares, are they?” Another inbound train was approaching. “That’s my train. Again.”

“That’s how trains work,” Sam said.

“It’s true. There’s a train, and a train, and a train.”

“In which case, the only proper thing for us to do right now is have coffee,” Sam said. “Or whatever you drink, if coffee’s too much of a cliché for you. Chai tea. Matcha. Snapple. Champagne. There’s a world with infinite beverage possibilities, right over our heads, you know? All we have to do is ride that escalator and it’s ours for the partaking.”

“I wish I could, but I have to get to class. I’ve done maybe half the reading. The only thing I have going for me is my punctuality and attendance.”

“I doubt that,” Sam said. Sadie was one of the most brilliant people he knew.

She gave Sam another quick hug. “Good running into you.”

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