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THE BUBBLE

    Once a bubble took itself very seriously.  
    Like all bubbles, this one was in reality little more than a taut shimmer over emptiness. And as other bubbles, when it wasn’t being blown willy-nilly here and there, it drifted about on its own in seemingly aimless wanderings that looked to come to much the same end, only in slow motion. Nevertheless, the bubble maintained a determined sense of self-worth in the conviction that its inner void was given shape, and ultimately meaning, by its unique role in the grander scheme of things. For without the bubble, what would emptiness within ever amount to but just that: emptiness? Indistinguishable, in fact, from the nothingness spreading out in all directions from the bubble’s gleam as though in shocking disregard of the need for those distinctions that lend clarity to life. For where there is difference, the bubble reasoned, there are contrasts to be made, and with contrast comes the separation necessary for assessments of significance, obviously: the ability to declare with absolute confidence at any given moment, “This is this! And that is that!” Absent bubbles like itself, in other words, what meaning would any of existence have? How would anything identify anything else against which to define itself and thus attain full self-awareness? Anything that was outside it, unknown, formless, and therefore a testament to the settled merit of its own private void by contrast? How could an otherwise incalculable “dark beyond” be understood if not for its relationship to shiny bubbles? Bubbles, in sum, held existential mayhem at bay. And a perilous vigil it was. Any moment might be a bubble’s last, as a loud pop or a plaintive squeak or a mere fading whiffle announced an end to the sheltering round that had shaped absence into presence and presence into a multitude of forms, visions, hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, attachments, bitter losses—all that which, for good or for ill, demonstrated without a doubt one’s ability to tell what one was from what one was not—in short, all that which turned the insubstantial into something of transcendent importance. 
    With these as the dimensions of a bubble’s very being, was it any surprise this one took itself very seriously?