This is the twenty third section of the second chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
"Living in space is going to be odd for you being an occer then.” asked Tom
“What makes you say that?”
“No gravity, dark all around, water everywhere”
“And this is different from space vehicles how?”
“Do I need to say?”
“When you go for a dive you’re weightless, you are submerged in water in space to protect you from radiation storms and what was the other one?”
“Welcome to the concept of artificial lighting in space”
“Still you’re not yet comfortable with weightlessness yet”
“Many people who live here aren’t. Most places now have rotational gravity”
“But not here and never at the hub”
“Well there’s shuttles and lifts for that”
“So you think you’ll be out of it soon enough”
“Far from it, the plan is I’ll be dragged into a whole heap of construction stuff or at least inspection and diagnosis outside.”
“And then what?”
“Come on, what are you building? All I know is it’s a research post and you’re building something bloody big”
“You’re right it is big, but small too”
“Laurence” chided Tom in a disapproving tone.
“What, look it’s company confidential, just because you can’t keep your mouth shut about how important you are in this new endeavor of yours doesn’t mean that I’m the same.”
“You’re the one who’s been talking.”
“Do you normally bicker like this with people you’ve just met?”
“No I’m normally much more polite”
“I guess we’re made to get along then.”
“Come again old boy”
“You don’t bicker with acquaintances or people you’re polite to. Normally that’s saved for wives.”
“I accept” laughed Tom “Although it’s traditional to get down on one knee”
Laurence used his serviette to wipe his mouth, placed it on the table, stood up and carefully pushed his chair back under the table, he leaned over to look directly into Tom’s eyes “Take this as divorce proceedings then.”
“See there is some humour in you” shouted Tom to the retreating Laurence “You haven’t touched your desert.”
Tom mused that he must be out of earshot by now “Looks like I’m paying the bill then” he said to himself.