The bubble

--

I wrote this as part of a larger narrative but I think it works well as a single piece:




He called it a bubble, but according to the Boy, it was more like a vast expanse; they rested on a cliff so high they could look down and watch the clouds roll and crash like the waves beneath them. And that was it. Behind was the stretch of land they were sitting on, but it went on forever, like there was no horizon.
                The Boy looked up, in the direction of the Man.
                “Where are you, then?”
                The Man looked down at him and the far-off gaze he had was replaced with the familiarity of seeing an old friend.
                “Hong Kong.”
                The Boy’s eyes lit up.
                “Yeah,” said the Man, before the boy could say anything. “It’s as great as you thought it would be.”
                “Penthouse?”
                The Man shook his head, laughing. “No, of course not. My place is small, but it’s right in the heart of the city. It’s so easy to get to work."
                “That’s great,” said the Boy, unconvincingly. “What do you do?”
                “Oh … nothing,” said the Man, dismissively. There were rules in his job. Non-disclosures had been agreed upon. But then remembered who he was talking to, and where they were.
                “The company is private,” he replied, cryptically. “I work in technologies there, with a team. We built this place. We’re looking for people who have misused it.”
                The Boy considered this for a while.
                “Is that why you came to see me?”
                The Man nodded.
                The Boy opened his mouth to ask a question, but the Man knew exactly what he was about to ask.
                “It was my fault. I let them in. See, I thought I could trust them. They were friends.”
                The Boy rolled his eyes. “You should pick your friends better.”
                “So should you.”
                There was silence for a while, and there was a thick air of awkwardness as both of them were hesitant to think of what to say next. The Man had a lot to say. Somehow his answers didn’t seem to placate the Boy.
                “Is your wife beautiful?”
                “I’m not married.”
                “Your girlfriend, then.”
                “I don’t have one. No time.”
                They both laughed at this moment of irony, and the infinite expanse in front of them seemed to laugh too.
                “Do you want to know what I want to be when I grow up?” said the Boy, suddenly.
                The Man looked back down at him with a smile.
                “I know what you want to be when you grow up.”
                “You think so. You’ve forgotten.”
                The Man looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”
                “OK.” The Boy shifted in his seat and turned to face the Man face-on. “You’ve got some of it right. Hong Kong? Check. Physics and Technology? Check. But I want this to help the world, and of course be incredibly famous doing so. Is it empty, all of this?”
                “No. I mean … It’s a work in progress…” began the Man. He was surprised at the Boy’s speech. He did not remember the Boy being like this, but maybe this was not really him. Maybe this was how the bubble worked.
                “That’s not what I see. But I’m just a kid. I don’t know. Can our work not be applied better?” He considered the bubble. He approved of it. “And I want a beautiful wife who supports me, and friends that don’t steal the things I make. When this is over, will I be remembered?”
                The Man was not sure what the Boy had meant by this, and if this was his experience of the Boy’s. Ultimately, it did not matter. Things would change, or they would not. He did not know what would happen when they left the bubble, if he or the Boy would remember any of it. He could feel their time in the bubble ending.
                The Boy stood up and took a deep breath. The golden light warmed his face.
                “I guess what I want to know is, are there any regrets?”
                The Man stood also. The ground beneath him felt very unstable.
                “Well? There always will be. You hope, and you wish for great, grand things. You achieve some of them. You don’t others, or you tell yourself you will, just not right now.”
                “I don’t believe in that,” the Boy said. “But thanks for the advice.”
                The bubble faded. Darkness set in, familiarity was creeping into both the Boy and the Man’s vision.
                The Man ruffled the Boy’s hair.
                “Good luck, kid. Let me know how it turns out.”
                As he disappeared, and the clouds, cliff and golden light faded, the Boy replied. “You’ll know.”









-------------