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Fiction

“Sometimes things just kind of take on a life of their own, you know? There’s nothing you can do about it, one way or the other.”

“Granted. But did you think it would end like this?”

“Of course not.”

“So how did you think it would end?”

“Well, I guess, if I’m honest, I didn’t think about that. Not really. You know how it is with these things. But, I certainly didn’t expect anything that happened. Not at all.”

“But you just said…”

“Yeah. I know. I said I hadn’t thought about how it would end. That’s the truth. But what I’m saying, or what I’m trying to say, is that, sure, this was a possibility that could have happened. I mean, it did happen, right? But it’s not one I envisioned, just like I didn’t envision it leading to sparking a third world war, or me becoming president of the United States, or…”

“I think you have to be born there to become president.”

“What? Oh. I see. Whatever. The point is; from one minor word or action any number, an infinite amount of possibilities can unfold.”

“You’re talking about Hugh Everett?”

“What?”

“Hugh Everett.”

“Who?”

“You don’t know?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Oh. Right. Ok then. I just thought…”

“What?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“What does, right?”

“That’s not what I was trying to say.”

“Whatever. But anyway, when you think about it, I can’t realistically be held responsible for the entire infinity of results of a chain reaction, can I? Am I to blame?” 

“You did say it to him…”

“So?”

“So, doesn’t that make you accountable? Shouldn’t we take responsibility for the things we say?”

“I think you’re living in the past there, my friend.”

“And what do you mean by that, exactly?”

“Take a look around you. Have you heard of the internet? Have you heard of social media?”

“I think I see your point.”

“Indeed.”

“But you know what they say about two wrongs…”

“They’re better than three?”

“Look… You seem to have a very cavalier attitude to this whole situation.”

“Not at all.”

“Are you telling me that you’re taking it seriously?”

“I take everything seriously.”

“I see.”

“It’s true. Ask anyone.”

“And who would you include as anyone?”

“Anyone.”

“Anyone I can find, you mean?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Quite.”

“I see what you’re doing, you know.”

“What I’m doing?”

“What you’re doing.”

“And what is it that you see?”

“You’re trying to put words into my mouth. You’re trying to make it appear I said things that I didn’t. Or that I meant things I didn’t. Or maybe that I had some kind of foresight.”

“Then tell me: What exactly did you say?”

“This again?”

“This again.”

“Ok, fine. I have nothing to hide.”

“Go ahead.”

“It was nothing really. Just things you say. You know how people are, friends or whatever. They talk. They say things to get a response. Nothing more than that.”

“We’re not here to discuss the protocols of friendship.”

“Sure. But…”

“You said you’d tell me what you said.”

“Ok man, give me some space here. I’m, how do you say, composing my thoughts.”

“Take your time.”

“Thanks. So anyway, as I was saying, we were just talking, in the way guys do. He said some things and I said some things. But the stuff you’re alluding to, that came when he said something to me about my family, because, you know, he grew up well off, he always had whatever he wanted and stuff like that, love or whatever, support, and I, to be frank, I didn’t.”

“So?”

“So then I said to him about how at least my family was real.”

“Meaning that his wasn’t?”

“Sure. That was the general direction. You know, I was aiming to wound, as they say.”

“And what made you say that his family wasn’t real?”

“Because they mean so much to him. I knew that it’d sting even though it’s stupid.”

“Stupid how?”

“I don’t follow you.”

“I’m just wondering why you chose to attack the very foundation of his family. What was your reasoning?”

“Reasoning? You’re blowing this all out of proportion here. There was no reasoning. It was just a little back and forth. It doesn’t work on reasoning or anything like that. It’s just banter, you know? I suggested that his family wasn’t real, that he was adopted or something, and that all of his childhood was a lie.”

“That’s banter?”

“Of course. It’s no worse than anything he would say to me.”

“Has he told you that you come from a fictional family?”

“No… But… I think you’re missing the point here. Do you not have friends?”

“What’s your point?”

“That this is how we are, people. We say things we don’t mean. I don’t know what your problem is.”

“You told him his family wasn’t real.”

“I did.”

“Do you know how much time and effort, how much money, has gone into hiding that fact?”

“What do you mean?”

“Quite obviously, we hoped that he would never find out.”

“Find out what?”

“About where he came from.”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you telling me…”

“Are you saying that you didn’t know it was true?”

“You’re kidding… right?”

“I don’t believe this.”

“I mean, he can’t… I was just messing with his head.”

“So… you didn’t actually…”

“Hey, I don’t know what’s going on here. I was just teasing the guy. All of this other stuff, this… this… whatever is going on now, that’s nothing to do with me.”

“It’s everything to do with you.”

“How do you figure?”

“Because if you had said anything else to him, literally anything, none of this would have happened. The world wouldn’t be burning right now.”

“But all I did was…”

“All you did was to plant the seed of doubt.”

“The…”

“That’s all it took. It just had to take root. After that…”

“After that?”

“The house of cards began to crumble.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that he began to look into his past and he saw that it didn’t add up. He looked for the truth, and the truth was all too happy to be found.”

“And what is the truth?”

“The truth is what we have spent a lifetime trying to hide from him. You opened that Pandora’s box and the results… well… turn on the TV. Better still , look out the window.”

“How can you even… let’s say what you’re telling me is true, that all of this… how can I begin to… what is the likelihood that what I said would lead here?”

“Do you want the numbers?”

“The numbers?”

“The probability. We can give you the equations.”

“I don’t think… I mean… even if what I said… how can you make the connections?”

“It’s simple really. Hiding him was a two way street. Once he started to look into his parentage, it made it possible for his family to find him. And once the family were reunited…”

“You can’t possibly mean…”

“Exactly. Everything that’s happening outside is because you helped him to become reunited with his real family.”

“But that makes no sense. It has to be more than that.”

“It’s the truth.”

“But then… If that’s… does that mean… what can I do about it now?”

“We don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“Nothing probably.”

“Nothing?”

“Probably not. We certainly can’t think of anything.”

“Then why am I here?”

“Why not? You’ve got to be somewhere.”

August 20, 2021 19:35

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