A Boy and His Monitor

She's 11 and sitting up in bed and we've just had a huge conversation and how it's NOT FAIR and how we both agree it's NOT FAIR but there's nothing we can do about it.

And then as she's picking away at the edge of her duvet, she tells me that Mo's been in her dreams lots this week but that she can't really see her properly as there's always smoke, smoke everywhere. And then she's fiddling with the edge of a paperback book she's brought home from school, a story about a boy and a Komodo Dragon, and then she's asking about monitor lizards and whether they can really ever be proper pets?

Then she goes quiet.

Suddenly she's looking at her arms and lifting them up, zooming them around randomly and saying everyone must be so dumb at school because look, we can move! We can move our bodies and it's amazing we can even do that, isn't it? And why doesn't anyone else think about that and how it's just a total miracle? And I'm saying well, how do you know they don't think about that? They might think about that a lot but just not tell you about it, and she's shrugging that off like, maybe I suppose, but I don't think so, and I'm thinking nope, I don't think so either, because most people are pretty stonkingly dumb.

It's because you're a clever little chesspiece, Charlotte, I tell her, and she looks at me and says she's not that clever, and says that actually I'm the clever one because I fix computers. Computers suck, I tell her, and besides, nobody will want old clunkery computers soon, they'll just have phones, or maybe even glasses with computers inside them so you can be on a computer all the time just by looking around. OMG she says and she goes all quiet and stares into nothing with her mouth open like that idea is going right in there ready for some mad conversation at school.

Anyway, I say, standing up, time for bed before neither of us can move our arms or our legs or any parts of our body because we're too tired, and she says that wouldn't really happen because then we'd be paralyzed, and that would be awful, and we wouldn't be able to move if there was something we had to get away from, like, say, a car crash, or a fire, and I snort a smile and agree, and say goodnight, and she says, Dad? And I say, what? And she asks if us being alive and being able to move our arms and legs and see ourselves in mirrors and stuff is just chance or whether it's God who made us and allowed us to do that and if so, why? And if God can do that, then why can't they bring Mo back?

And *bang* I'm thinking that I really need to try and get out of her room ASAP or this could go on all night and that I really, really need to take some headache tablets and suddenly there's that meltburn smell, singeing, so I say quickly well, if it's chance, then we're really lucky aren't we? And then I remember something I heard on the radio yesterday about multiverses or some shit and announce - like I really know what I'm talking about – that some scientists think we're amazingly lucky because there might not even be just like, this universe, there might be others as well, which aren't so lucky, where things aren't alive at all, maybe ones filled with fire and brimstone, and maybe Mo is in one of those. So yeah, if it's chance, we're really lucky, like we've won the lottery just by being alive. There's a small moment of quiet after that, and I can see the questions building up in her head as she stares at me wide-eyed, but before she can bombard me again I'm saying right, that's enough! Good night! ...and slip quickly out the door.

Dad? She calls urgently but I pretend I haven't heard. Dad wait! What if Mo is trapped in there? In another place? In all the smoke?