In the entryway of the apartment they had to step over a vacuum cleaner, a rolled up rug, a gym bag stuffed full, and a large canvas duffel bag. The duffel bag was standing wide open. Apparently Marcus was right in the midst of packing it by tossing shirts and socks from some distance away. He seemed to miss his target from time to time. Marcus showed Anna the living room. She followed him, holding her shoulder bag a bit awkwardly in front of her so that no one could see the chocolate smear on her skirt. Lenny was getting tired.
“I am going to work for three months in Switzerland,” Marcus said, smiling. “At CERN!” He looked at Anna and Cara and then at Lenny expectantly. But no one reacted. “CERN is a big research laboratory,” he added. “I am a physicist.”
“Uh … great,” Lenny’s mother said, but her apparent enthusiasm did not really sound very convincing. “And what exactly …?”
This seemed to please Marcus. “I work with Higgs particles. Higgs particles are the tiniest particles in the universe. They hold everything together. Actually, though, we do not really know if they exist at all.” With that last remark, Marcus looked just very slightly unhappy.
“But if they hold everything together, then they have to exist.” Cara tried to console Marcus.
Lenny was trying to imagine what a Higgs particle might look like. He giggled to himself at the idea—something with a giant pumpkin head set on top of tiny, wire-thin legs, coiled like springs, that propelled it—boing, boing, boing—through the universe, its skinny arms flapping.