A boy of ten raced across the clay, dirt, and rock located at the top of what the locals called The Pit. It was a mining operation that had been going for eight years strong.
“This was all flat land when you were born,” his father said.
He wasn’t sure if he believed his father. Looking out at the vast, open hole in the earth before them. A truck that had driven by them when they first arrived had started the descent into the mine below. Up close, it was monstrous. The boy had stood in awe as its giant tires, bigger than their car, rolled past them. Now it was slowly circling the outer rings of the mine before him, growing smaller and smaller as it neared the bottom where it looked like it could have been a toy in sandbox. Small black specks moved around it. He knew they were people, but from up here they were fairy flies hiding in the dirt.
“How far down does it go?” he asked.
“Five hundred and seventy meters down. Three and a half kilometers wide.”
“Wow.” He looked over the edge. The road down circled to make the hill sides look like steps. The boy imagined the entire mine being a bathtub for a giant.
The truck arrived at the bottom and workers scrambled to unload the supplies it had brought before they filled it up with dirt to take back up. The supplies were mostly explosives used in the mining process, but there was water and food sent down for them as well. Once the truck was weighed down with thick rock, several of the men climbed on for a ride up and out. Their shifts were over. The others began preparing the explosives.
“Will it ever run out?” the boy asked.
“Will what run out?”
“Eventually, but hopefully not within our lifetime. As long as there is gold, there will be money. And with that money I hope to send you to a really nice college, like Harvard. Would you like that?”
The boy didn’t know what he wanted, except to play baseball. He didn’t like school very much. He really only liked watching sports his dad. College football, major league baseball, rugby world championships, soccer, anything as long as it was with his dad.
Within the man-made crater, the workers were running the lines for the detonators.
“Harvard’s a good school. One of the best. You would do well there.”
“Yeah. I would like it there,” he said. He wanted to make his dad proud, so he said whatever his dad wanted to hear.
Down below a worker was walking the detonator line out toward the safe zone when the ground gave out beneath him.
“Whoa, did you see that?” The boy stood transfixed as a cloud of dirt settled over the bottom of the pit refusing to dissipate. Then the sound of the explosion boomed in his ears. His father grabbed his shoulder.
“Get back to the car,” he said, and then he ran off. He climbed into another truck, a company truck, and took off down the long spiral. The boy watched the truck circle further and further down. When the truck with his father inside disappeared into the haze of dirt, a queasiness of fear crept into his stomach.