This story is by Stan Casella and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Bubbles & Bracelets: An Anniversary Adventure
“Oh, no! My anniversary is today!” I panicked.
“Did you forget your wedding anniversary again, Jack?” asked Marci. “Anniversaries are to remember good times and to make new memories.”
“I have spent weeks working on ideas for Monday’s meeting. I am still not ready! Marci, do you have any good ideas for a present?” I asked frantically.
“Well, it’s too late to book that flight to Paris your wife always wanted. I have a friend who owns a jewelry shop. I’ll text you his address, it’s close by.”
“What about the meeting?” I whined.
“Don’t worry we’ll be ready,” said Marci confidently. “Find something with diamonds. I think that goes with your anniversary this year.”
As I walked, I noticed a church with a wedding. Bubbles were coming from the ceremony. Mia and I used to blow bubbles and have philosophical conversations. A five-foot bubble came my way, it burst, liquid flew into my eye. When I blinked, a man appeared.
“Hey, did you just drop out of that bubble? Haha, are you a magician? I like doing magic tricks, but that was off the charts. My name is Jack. You have to tell me how you did that.”
“My name is Bhulta and I did not do a trick.” said the bubble man.
“Wait, what do you mean it’s not a trick?”
“Jack, I am from another place not in this universe,” Bhulta said.
“I don’t have time to listen to stories, I have to get to this jewelry store to find the most magnificent gift for my amazing wife who I have neglected far too often.”
“Well, if it is a gift you are looking for, let me show you what my world has to offer.” In Bhulta’s hand appeared a diamond wrist band, he gestured for me to take it. When I touched it, I saw images of Mia and me together within the stones. I put it on my wrist. It didn’t feel right. Looking at the memories felt like someone was trying to peel apart velcro in my mind.
Bhulta suggested I call Mia to come to meet up. Within minutes, I saw her figure appear, her face mirroring my wonderment.
“Surprise, Happy Anniversary!” said Bhulta.
Mia flashed a fearful look at me.
“This is Bhulta, he is from another place and presented this bracelet. There is a match for you.” I shyly said, hoping she would be impressed.
I put the bracelet on Mia’s arm. Mia’s gazed into the diamonds on the bracelet, her face softened and a faint smile appeared.
“Would you like to see my world?” asked Bhulta.
Mia and I agreed, we had to know more.
When Bhulta saw that we both agreed, he lifted his hands touching each digit, and in a rapid, swirling motion bubbles appeared.
“Now, close your eyes. Imagine yourself stepping through the bubble into a new world.” Bhulta whispered.
We opened our eyes and there were buildings of blue and silver, some adorned with diamonds. Many were surrounded by gardens of daffodils.
“These are stalls that you can choose anything you want for your anniversary.” Mia’s eyes opened wide at all the options. She tried many adornments. She rushed to another display. When she was done, she had all kinds of accessories on her head, neck, arms, and legs. All of it was removed and placed into bowed packages that could be pocketed. I had never seen Mia so excited for jewelry.
“Now for the next part of your anniversary celebration,” said Bhulta. He motioned to a man in a blue blazer and silver slacks.“This is Malerick. He will attend to you.”
“Please follow me.”
He brought us to an outdoor dining area filled with bubbles glistening in the sunlight.
“Remember, you will need to imagine yourself stepping into the bubbles,” said Malerick.
As he made his way to leave, the mysterious host pulled me at my sleeve and slipped something into my back pocket, and in a hushed tone said, “You may need this for later but don’t look at it now. I apologize for your current situation.” He patted me on the back, “Enjoy your meal!”
We closed our eyes and imagined stepping into the bubble. We opened our eyes and we were sitting at an elegant table. Dozens of waiters flooded from the kitchen.
Each dish was a perfect replication of our past favorite dishes. There was a ten-layered carrot cake that we had not eaten since our twenties.
“This food is so wonderful,” said Mia, “Don’t you remember this, Jack? We were always so happy eating together.” She smiled with watery eyes and looked longingly at me.
The velcro feeling vanished. I looked down, my wristband was removed. Malerick must have taken it.
“We hope you enjoyed your meal. You will be changing locations.” We were ushered into another bubble.
The bubble floated us around. Mia was staring as we continually hovered over the gardens of daffodils.
The bubble brought us to a stage where Bhulta was at the podium. I felt uncomfortable as Mia continued to blankly smile.
“I want to thank all of you, our brightest minds for coming to this event. Tonight you will be able to mentally connect with the couples, together and individually. In front of us, we have a married couple for ten Earth years. They managed to stay together despite the difficulties of home, life, and work. This male has become so negligent that he almost forgot today was his anniversary. Let us focus on how a couple like this manages to stay together while our grand culture is unable to sustain any relationship. This will continue our research to help understand what it takes to have long, satisfying relationships to save our culture!” exclaimed Bhulta.
The audience quieted down and closed their eyes. I felt dizzy and nauseous. Mia didn’t seem to show any discomfort. Their procedure ended quickly.
“Now we will examine them separately,” said Bhulta.
The crowd dispersed. I could feel the bubble separating. I panicked and grabbed for Mia as it split. I only managed to pull her bracelet, breaking it. As the bubble floated away, her smile turned into horror. My stomach flipped.
It felt like my brain was being twisted as I felt a most horrific sensation from being separated from Mia. It had been so long since I only thought for her.
Not about work or meetings, only about her safety. I began to notice the bubble was shrinking. If it continued, where would I and the air go?! My heart pounded, I became flustered. I tried to punch the bubble but it shrank more. Horrible thoughts reverberated in my skull. I had to pull myself together. I tried to close my eyes and picture outside the bubble. My mind was too panicked. I remembered Malerick. I put my hand in my pocket and felt a diamond. The sharp point cut my finger. When I looked at the blood, a memory flooded in. When Mia and I blew bubbles eleven years ago, I tried to impress her with my magic skills. My favorite was a sleight of hand. I replaced a bubble with a see-through sphere, containing her engagement ring. I could feel the love Mia felt. I saw images and remembered other anniversaries. I closed my eyes my hand was directed by the diamond and sliced through the bubble. I had to find Mia, I ran into Malerick.
“Where is Mia!” I demanded.
“Speak quietly, I hoped you’d free yourself. I was coming to help you. You can find Mia in the next circular area. Take this, it is a Bubble Creator. When you go there close your eyes, visualize, and remember. Guards are coming. Go quickly!” said Malerick.
I ran to the location, but Mia was not there. I gasped for air.
“Mia, where are you?”
My mind swirled of the ever-shrinking bubble closing around her as she ran out of air. I clutched the diamond in a last-ditch hope. I could see in the bracelet where Mia was located. I ran over and I hid, waiting for the sounds of the guard’s footsteps to fade. When I got to her, I noticed the bubble had shrunk considerably. I cut into the bubble with the diamond!
“Mia!” I nudged her to wake.
“Jack, you’re here.”
“Stop!” a guard commanded.
“Mia, close your eyes, picture us back on Earth,” I said.
I used the Bubble Creator to envision us back on Earth. We stepped into the bubble. I could feel the guard’s hand slip off my shoulder as the bubble burst behind us. The familiar weight of gravity beneath my wife’s arms signaled our return.
“Happy Anniversary!” We hugged.
“Our relationship is the most important thing to me.” I proclaimed.
Her eyes twinkled, “Turn around.”
Before us was the garden leading to the Eiffel Tower. Finally, her wish was my wish.