Keith dropped the towel on the counter and turned to face Beth. “I got the job.”
“What jo – , they called?“
“They did. You, my lovely wife, are looking at Apple’s newest employee!”
“You really got the job? That’s amazing!” Beth stepped forward into Keith’s arms for a hug that became an odd dance step, as they both giggled and kissed as quietly as possible.
“Congratulations, I was starting to think they’d keep you an applicant forever.”
“Me too. But a courier appeared this morning with a box that contained the employee handbook, and then Steve called to give me the good news.”
Beth gave Keith one more big kiss and then backed up a step to lean on the counter. “So this means we’re moving?”
“We are; the job comes with full on campus privileges at the Apple city-corp.”
Beth took a deep, steadying breath. “They call it privileges, like we have a choice. When?”
“One week, we move next Tuesday.” Keith kept talking over Beth’s exclamation. “I know it seems fast but Apple will have a move coordinator here on Thursday to help us evaluate what goes and what stays, and apparently they supply boxes and people to lift and pack and whatever else we need. “
Beth held up a hand to stop Keith. “Of course they help, but only a week? I’ll barely have time to say good bye to people much less cancel subscriptions, and – oh no, what do I tell work?”
“First thing tomorrow Apple is going to send a boilerplate resignation letter to your boss; Steve said it’s up to you if you go in for the rest of this week or not. The decision on HP vs. Leung came down last week; the city-corps won the right to make sure that a new employee’s family can always accompany him inside, whatever the time frame.”
“So Apple is going to resign for me?”
“And withdraw the boys from their schools, and cancel the cable, and forward the mail, and everything else.”
“That doesn’t seem a little - scary to you?”
Keith leaned on the counter next to his wife. “We talked about this before I applied,” he said gently. “You knew the position requires living inside.”
“It’s just happening so quickly.” Beth tipped her head to the side and rested it on his shoulder. “Could you - can we take a day to think about the offer?”
“I’ve already accepted.” Beth jerked away from him; Keith stepped in front of her, forcing her to meet his eyes. “Beth, we moved to this place that’s barely a city to be in the shadow of the Apple walls, hoping proximity was the last piece to push my application over the top. We have been waiting, dreaming of this opportunity for eighteen months.”
“It feels different being just outside the walls than it did looking at pictures from another state. No one comes back out of the Apple.”
“You know that’s not true. The pass-through workers are allowed to come and go, though why you’d want to live out here in what’s left of Cupertino if you could be inside I don’t understand. I’ve been promised a weekend leave for the whole family after the first year. You’ve seen the brochures; inside the Apple walls they still have grass! The schools will be better for the boys, they’ll find you a job too if you want. Everything we could ever want is inside the Apple; the city-corp is twice the size of Cupertino now, and growing. Steve admitted it is more difficult to stay in touch with friends and family who aren’t inside, but it's not impossible. And we’ll make new friends inside.”
“Will we make new family, too?” Beth said harshly.
“Oh sweetie, I know this is scary, but give yourself a little time to get used to the idea and you’ll be fine. This is exactly what we wanted.” Keith kissed Beth on the forehead and left the kitchen.
Beth slumped against the counter. They had moved here chasing this job. Keith had spent most days at the pass-through buildings that ringed the wall of the Apple, undergoing more tests, talking to more people. But he hadn’t spent any time in the town, hadn’t ever seen how the Apple was bleeding Cupertino dry. She knew it was happening to every place that had birthed a city-corp, but they were at ground zero. Beth had listened to the townsfolk who never wanted a walled corporate state in their backyard and knew they were deeply unhappy. And she knew someday they’d be unhappy enough to do something about it.
But the city-corps were powerful, and if Keith had already agreed she knew they’d have to go. She just hoped it would be better to be inside than out when revolution came.
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