Harper played with the wad of putty, absently rolling it around on her desk as she ignored her work, the curser blinking on the screen at the end of her unfinished sentence. Having honed the talent of zoning out to an art form while she was at MIT, Harper could put her body on autopilot and just send her mind away.

Her Pop called it Delving.

It wasn’t Zen.  She wasn’t emptying her mind or intensely focusing on a single flame, nothing like that.  It wasn’t even peaceful blankness.  No, when Harper delved, she focused on the Plan.

Harper had been an eight-year-old kid, flying alone on a 747 from her Mom’s place in California back to her Pop’s place in Michigan when she first started to develop the Plan.  It was late evening, just before the inky black of night.  Harper could still make out the dark purple/blue of a day that didn’t want to let go as she looked out the plane’s window to the horizon.  It had been cloudy.  Her California trip had gone two days longer than it should have, in her opinion, and she was ready to be home in Michigan with her Pop.  The flight attendant had had a warm, friendly smile and had given Harper an extra bag of peanuts.

She was just about to fall asleep when the murmuring started.

All around Harper, other passengers were talking amongst themselves and looking out the windows of the plane into the night sky.  Some pointed.  Others laughed nervously.  One young boy got frantic and had to be shushed by an old man he was traveling with, all due to something outside of the plane.

Harper looked out of her window.

A light shone from inside of the clouds, rotating in amber, green and white like a confused lighthouse, as it matched speed with the jet.  It was the most beautiful thing Harper had ever seen.  She felt no fear as she watched it speed up and slow down out in the night.  For ten whole minutes that light followed Harper’s 747, then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the light shot straight up and disappeared.

It was right then that Harper slipped into herself, delving into the quiet of her mind, and began the initial stage of what had become the Plan.

She had told her Pop about the lights, of course, it was too fantastic of an event not to.  He had shared in her enthusiasm when he heard the tale and the two of them had visited the library the next day to research anything they could find about lights in the sky and U.F.O.s.

“The path to every answer has its start in a book somewhere.”  Her Pop had told her, “Reading tunes your mind; opens it.  Enables you to take whatever you’re feeling and focus it into ideas; into thoughts that can let you make sense of things.”

But Harper didn’t tell him about the Plan.  At eight years old, she didn’t know the words to describe it.  Even at twenty-eight, after graduating from MIT and starting her own software company, Harper still didn’t know how to explain to anyone about the Plan.

Partially because the blueprint that was the Plan was always evolving.  It began with amber, green and white.  That was the template.  But then, when Harper went to the library with her Pop, it changed.  The feeling that came from learning beside her father was added to the colors, and joy became part of the Plan.  As she aged the Plan gained depth, substance even, but it was ever incomplete.  Like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with no picture to go by, using pieces you only discovered throughout the day to day living of life.  Each time Harper found a potential new piece she would delve – go to her quiet place, the one that belonged completely to the Plan – and try and place it there.

The first time she had sex, the mathematical formula that is Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor, the technology involved in an ipad’s touch screen, the nervous system of an arthropod, all of these things and so much more made up the Plan’s structure.  Nonsensical arrangements when splayed out in words, but poetry in the context and confines of Harper’s delving place.  An insular notion, desperately wishing to dwell with stars.

Today Harper was delving after having learned a new word.  Bagicha, Hindi for garden.  Hearing it had struck that familiar chord within her, particularly once she blended its pronunciation with her memory of what black licorice tasted like.  She began to roll the wad of putty counter-clockwise.

Something in Harper’s mind opened further.  She rose above the Plan; first as herself – as Harper – then as Harper-That-Was.  She stretched; simultaneously rising higher and falling lower while her sense of self merely…expanded.  Realizing with equal clarity all that is Harper, as Harper pertained to the wad of putty pertained to the IKEA desk pertained to the building’s electrical system pertained to Detroit pertained to steel, soil, rock, magma, satellite, nebulae, hydrogen, fission, 193472047603294752

“Harper?” a voice said, “Harper!  Are you okay?”

“I –” Harper blinked her eyes a few times and moved her head from side to side before looking at her head researcher.  “Yeah, I’m good.  What’s up?”

“You looked, I dunno, elsewhere.”  He made his way over from the door to Harper’s office to look more closely at her. “I said your name like four times.”

“Yeah,” Harper sighed, “I had something on my mind.”