My kid said the thing in the sky was a divorce. The drunk at the bus-stop revealed it was the Russian hackers. It was thin and, for November, unreasonably shiny. I hoped it was the alien invaders. I want no hackneyed griefs. If you have to do damage, uproot it all at once.
I told her not to worry about the future.
When we came back, our bus late, our clothes crawling with germs, our senses dulled by the traffic, the shiny thing in the sky was still there. New possibilities emerged. Like our ancestors who thought the stars were either mighty gods or holes in Earth’s cover, we wondered what was behind the line. A better universe? A birthplace of a hungry god who, in snaking out, would peel off the membrane of the sky, blink and take over the world. It might be that crack in everything, which, as Leonard Cohen puts it, lets in all the light.
My husband yawned and said it was probably a reflection of a wing of an airplane. But what sort of airplane would just lie there all day waiting. I told him what our daughter said. ‘A divorce.’ The word rang out like a brass bell, bounced around the room like a sun dog. ‘Isn’t it funny?’ ‘Hilarious. Where did she even hear it?’
After I fed her she told me more things she saw: flying saucers, flying horses, and, once, a flying car, just outside her window. Her room was bathed in the pink light from the small chandelier, the one we left behind us when we moved a year later. I told her a funny story about aliens.
We managed to push the shiny thing to the back of our minds, a bit like God. We wanted to ask it for things and we were afraid to ask it for things. I thought: ‘Shiny crack in the sky, don’t let bad things happen.’ But then I remembered how in that couples’ therapy thing that my husband and I tried once, they told us to find a positive way to frame our requests, so I changed it to, ‘Shiny crack in the sky, please keep everyone safe. Make changes smooth and soft. Let it be easy. Help us.’ I was worrying it, pulling at it like a scab, peeling something off too early.
I must have washed the dishes then. I must have focused on every dish, its grease, how slippery it felt as I scrubbed, the amount of hot water needed. I think we’d already had the heating on, so we would have had plenty of hot water. My husband must have fallen asleep on the couch, and I went up to check on her.
Of course she wasn’t asleep. Kids never sleep. I told her that the world was good and that I believed it. I told her we would all be just fine. I told her aliens weren’t real, and the sun was not going to explode. I’d left the door just a bit open like always, but that night, the light coming in reminded her of that thing in the sky, so she asked me to close it.
© Roppotucha Greenberg
[This piece was selected by Sommer Schafer. Read Roppotucha’s interview]